Jo Broadbent

GOOD LUCK to all the students in theior future careers, whether scientific or not. And thanks for all the great questions! it's been really good fun.

Favourite Thing: the van der graaf generator that makes your hair stand up in physics lessons



Hulme Grammar School, Oldham 1983-1990


Edinburgh (BSc Molecular Biology) 1990-1994 / King’s College London (PhD Developmental Biology) 1995-1999 / London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (MSc Public Health) 2004-2005

Work History:

Restaurant / Newsagent / Centre for Genome Research / Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority / Various NHS – Primary Care Trusts, Hospital, Strategic Health Authority / University of East Anglia


NHS North East Essex

Current Job:

Consultant in Public Health

Me and my work

I make sure the health services in my area are as good quality as they can be. I also make sure they treat all the illnesses that people in my area have.

I use research about the illnesses people have in my area to make sure that the health services we have are the right ones. Its no use our hospital being able to do 500 hip replacements if we only need 50. But not treating any broken legs!

We only have a fixed amount of money to spend on all the NHS services in my area, so sometimes we have to decide which services to spend money on, and which ones not to spend money on. Do we need more midwives to deliver babies, more x-ray machines, or more help for people to stop smoking? Or more IVF treatment?? Which is more important?

To do make decisions about which health services to spend money on, we look at science research about how well the different services work. 

We also think about how serious an illness is (is it a heart attack, or a stubbed toe?)

We ask people what services they want (do you want to see doctor once a week, or look after yourself if you can?)

We also think about how much money different services cost (if one heart medicine costs £2 a day, and one costs £20 a day, but both work just as well, which one should doctors choose to give patients?)

One other thing to think about – I work in part of Essex that includes Colchester, Clacton-on-Sea and Harwich. A baby born into a family living near Clacton is likely to die 13 years before than a baby born 20 miles down the road. 13 years less life!! Is that FAIR? An important part of my job is trying to make that 13 year life difference smaller. The NHS helps people all live longer and healthier lives. But it also tries to make how healthy people are more equal.

My Typical Day

Busy. Talk to a lot of people. Send a lot of email!

I do lots of calculations using information from science research. I go to lots of meetings where we talk about how to make health services better. I talk to doctors and nurses and health managers, but also local people, and people who work for local councils and charities. I get a LOT of emails. LOTS.

What I'd do with the money

Raise awareness of how to know when someone has had a stroke – the sooner someone phones 999 and they get to hospital, the less likely they are to die or suffer a major disability

I would put the money towards a campaign to increase people’s awareness of the symptoms of stroke.

A stroke is a ‘brain attack’. A stroke is what happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Blood carries essential nutrients and oxygen to the brain. Without a blood supply, brain cells can be damaged or destroyed and won’t be able to do their job. This can affect lots of different parts of the body. If the part of the brain that controls how you move your legs is damaged, you might not be able to walk. If it damages the part that controls speech, you might not be able to talk.

The faster someone gets to hospital after a stroke, the sooner they get treated and the less the damage to the brain will be. So its really important that people know how to recognise when someone’s had a stroke so they can call 999 straight away.

There is a really simple campaign called ACT FAST – FAST stands for how recognise when someone has had a stroke –
F – Facial weakness – can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
A – Arm weakness – can the person raise both arms?
S – Speech problems – can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
T – Time to call 999.

Here’s weblink to the campaign –


My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

small, excitable, a mum

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Stone Roses, Kings of Leon, Pixies….. Am I allowed more than one?

What is the most fun thing you've done?

jumped out of a plane

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

What did you want to be after you left school?

A scientist. No, really.

Were you ever in trouble in school?

No, too much of a geek!

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

Grow glow-in-the-dark zebrafish

Tell us a joke.

What do you call a fairy that needs a bath? Stinkerbell.