Dr Carika Weldon
DR CARIKA WELDON
Dr Carika Weldon is a lecturer in Biomedical Science at De Montfort University in Leicester. Prior to joining the faculty as the youngest lecturer the university has ever had, she obtained her BSc (Hons) Medical Biochemistry in 2011 and her PhD in Biochemistry in 2015 from the University of Leicester.
Dr Weldon’s doctoral work focused on alternative splicing of the apoptotic gene Bcl-X. By creating a new method, the FOLDeR method, she discovered that G-quadruplexes shifts the XS/XL ratio to favour the pro-apoptotic XS isoform. By screening over 30 G-quadruplex ligands, her work identified a suitable drug that could be used for treating cancers, based on its ability to shift the ratio almost 40-fold (manuscript in preparation). In her own lab now, she looks at how the presence of G-quadruplexes in pre-mRNA can influence alternative splicing in other genes.
Born, raised and funded from Bermuda through scholarships to complete her studies, Dr Weldon decided to give back to her community and has founded The Bermuda Principles Foundation. The foundation’s main aim is to promote biomedical science to the youth of Bermuda through public engagement activities. In November 2016, Dr Weldon led the first cohort of DMU undergraduate students to Bermuda for the #ScienceWithScientists Tour. This project was in collaboration with the National STEM Centre and Ministry of Education. The tour received raving reviews by teachers and students and for this reason the Ministry of Education has requested this to be repeated annually, with the second tour planned for November 2017.
The other aim is to provide networking opportunities for the youth of Bermuda interested in pursuing a science career. In order to do this, Dr Weldon was the chief Organizer of the 1st Bermuda Splicing conference held in February 2017. This initiative was well received by international scientists and the local community. The 2nd annual meeting is currently being planned for February 2018 with keynote and invited speakers coming from all over the world (https://www.bermudaprinciples.org).
“Investing in the youth – a guaranteed return: a case study on Bermuda”
Profit is conventionally measured monetarily; however this does not apply when dealing with social good. Social good, which normally comes in the form of volunteer work, or donations, is not driven by financial gain. Instead, it should be viewed as profitable if the one act of social good leads to a cascade of social good as a result. By investing time and money into our youth, we are guaranteed to yield profits beyond our expectations. Through recent work in Bermuda, where DMU students have gone to do science workshops for children aged 11-18, the concept of investing in our youth will be explored. This is amplified by the fact that the leader of the initiative was invested into, from Bermuda, for her education without any stipulations for having to go back to work. Nevertheless it is clear that one act of social good performed nine years ago, is now reaping great benefits for the island.