Sean Holm

Sean Holm

United Kingdom
PhD Medical and Health Care Studies

What Faculty are you based in?

I am based in the Medical School situated within the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.

How did you come to study at Swansea University?

Not knowing what I wanted to do on completion of my A-levels I took a gap year, working in Zambia with the charity Restless Development.

During this year I determined life science was the topic that interested me most and applied to study a BSc in Biochemistry at Swansea University. I thoroughly enjoyed my studies especially the final year research project where my work was published in Nature Communications, as part of my supervisor’s paper. Graduating in 2019, with a first-class degree and the Biochemistry’s Graduate Prize for finishing top of the class, I was awarded a Swansea University Research Excellence Grant for a PhD under Professor Catherine Thornton and Dr Nicholas Jones.

What is your research topic?

I am an immunologist meaning I study the immune system. In particular, I focus on immune responses in pregnancy and very early life.

What led to your interest in this area?

When I first encountered the world of immunology, in a second-year module of my undergraduate degree, I thought it was a horribly complicated beast. However, as my understanding grew so too did my appreciation for all its nuanced complexities. Taking on a third-year research project based in immunology cemented my love for the field. And, I have not looked back since.

Narrowing down a topic of research, with so many interesting and impactful aspects of immunology to study, was considerably harder. However, having seen the devastating impact of our poor understanding of immunity in infants and pregnancy, whilst working for Restless development, I welcomed the opportunity to focus my research on these underserved groups.

What do you hope to achieve with your research?

Whilst our understanding of immunity has come on in leaps and bounds immune responses in infants and pregnant women are comparatively poorly understood. My research aims to tackle this gap in our knowledge, improving health outcomes for mothers and babies.

What are the best things about conducting your research at Swansea University?

The benefits of a supportive and collaborative environment in research cannot be overstated. Having the freedom to work with many different researchers, engage in public outreach, and get involved with a whole host of activities across the university makes it an exciting and stimulating place to study.

What are your plans for the future?

Alongside my studies I have really enjoyed taking part in outreach and public engagement. I think it’s really important that the hard work of researchers escapes the circles of academia. Whilst I don’t yet have any concrete plans, I hope to continue pushing the bounds of scientific knowledge and continue making that knowledge accessible to everyone.