Dot's Story

Dot came to visit us on Friday 13th March 2020. It might be an unlucky day for some but she enjoyed her visit and shares her experience here.

VIKING volunteer looks over garden

When we asked Dot why she joined she replied quite simply "I qualified! Two grandparents from Orkney." 

When asked for further details she said "Also, in the past few years,  I and a number of my family have needed NHS support. I want to play my small part by helping improve treatments in the future. Quite simple really"

In early March, she asked if she could offer any help, as she noticed we had been struggling to get the sample kits out. After the kind gesture we invited her to visit us in our place of work. After her visit she decided to write about her experience. 

"As someone who left school 30 years ago, having no scientific or medical background, and no knowledge of genomics, just an interest and willingness to learn... where to start?

Friday 13th and I'm off to visit the VIKING II Team at the Institute for Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Edinburgh.

A very warm welcome at reception and a stunning background wall covering of... DNA. Round the bottom floor there are some pop ups with the history of how the unit got to where it is now.

Up to the 4th floor (by lift) and in to meet the Project Team in their cosy sized office, which is great for them working together.

VIKING volunteer visits Clinical Research Facility

David showed me their side of data recording and collation of our personal details (they are very protective of our details, so no live info shared). He spoke about the improvements made from the feedback some of us have given following completion of the questionnaire. He also showed me the live world-wide spread of volunteers on a map - WOW! There are many overseas volunteers. Although there are many who have stayed to enjoy life on the beautiful islands, there are a few “adventurers” like my grandparents who moved “ti the sooth”. The map also showed there were many who went east and west. 

Shona took me on a tour of their modern facilities. There are many spaces around the building to take yourself for a moment to think through findings, have a meeting, or even just to clear your head before starting on the next challenge. Also to be enjoyed, is a beautiful garden out front with wildflowers, medicinal herbs & plants, a bright and cleverly ventilated atrium with some comfortable and innovative seating, and an outside decking area just off the canteen.

Rachel took me off to the Lab through a maze of corridors. The team had been busy. All the Viking II samples, which had arrived that day, were already opened & on the way to the next stage of their journey. There was quite an array of equipment from the recording of each stage of our precious samples progress. Machines that mixed the DNA with the liquid which allows the samples to be processed. A robot that can accurately and timely select samples as required by projects. A machine that looks at the slides and identifies information from what looks like a pretty starry night.

Dot, our volunteer, looking at methylation graph

Onto the freezer room, where each sample is carefully monitored so that they are kept at a constant temperature, to protect our samples for the future work once all 4000 are collected. 

Finally, the Illumina machine which was busy but very quietly carrying out sequencing.

I'm proud to be part of this project and honoured to have been given the opportunity to visit.

Thank you."

Dot we thank you in return. We loved having you over to visit and we hope you are keeping safe and well!