Jane Cleal

measuring proteins in placenta samples

Favourite Thing: Go to conferences and present my data to an international audience of experts. This means visiting really exciting places and making friends all over the world.



Hounsdown Secondary School


1999-2002 The University of Southampton Ist class honours Molecular Cell Biology

Work History:

2006 PhD in physiology


The University of Southampton

Current Job:

Lecturer in Epigenetics

Me and my work

I study the placenta: the thing that feeds the baby in the womb. I find out how it takes food from the mums blood to the baby’s blood so the baby grows properly.

I get human placentas (the thing attached to the baby which feeds it during pregnancy) straight after the baby has been born. These are quite bloody and like a large red cow pat. myimage1I keep them alive in a special warm chamber and feed them the appropriate buffers. I then put substances in on the side representing the mums circulation and see what goes across to feed the baby. I then establish what nutrient transporters are in the placenta at the genetic level; I have already discovered 3 new transporters.  I can use this information to work out why some babies are born really small and at risk of death and disease. This allows us to find ways of improving their growth in the womb so that they are healthy at birth and not at risk of later disease.

My Typical Day

My day is really varied so I never get bored doing the same thing. I visit labour ward and collect placentas and then do really messy experiments with the whole placenta! I also do precise molecular experiments measuring specific genes. I check my e-mail and facebook and do a bit of snacking. Perhaps have a meeting where we talk about the latest data. Analyse data and write them up into a paper which hopefully gets published, or write the data up into a small summary abstract which can be presented at a scientific meeting (this means trip abroad to exciting destination).

What I'd do with the money

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

fun, determined, slightly weird

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Cheryl Cole, muse

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Jump a massive cross country course on my pony

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

I could eat as much as I like and not get fat

What did you want to be after you left school?

A vet…but soon discovered it was really manual and dirty and I would rather use my brain!

Were you ever in trouble in school?

Yes…oops.. they had no sense of humour!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I went to Chile last year and presented my data at a really large meeting. The talk was scary but I got to see Chile and Rio which was amazing.

Tell us a joke.

You’re on a horse galloping away at speed. On your right is a sharp drop, on your left is an elephant travelling at the same speed as you. Directly in front of you is a kangaroo and your horse is unable to overtake it. Behind you a lion is chasing you. What must you do to safely get out of this highly dangerous situation??……….Get off the merry go round and act your age!!