UEL teams up with cancer charity following diagnosis of lecturer’s daughter

PUBLISHED: 11:22 20 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:22 20 February 2017

Dr Stefano Casalotti, UEL students Baiba Nimane, Olivia Hillson, Sheeza Imran Hafiz, Tolushike Popoola and Hayad Mohamud and Caroline Fallon from Anthony Nolan

Dr Stefano Casalotti, UEL students Baiba Nimane, Olivia Hillson, Sheeza Imran Hafiz, Tolushike Popoola and Hayad Mohamud and Caroline Fallon from Anthony Nolan


A year ago, University of East London lecturer Dr Stefano Casalotti’s daughter Lara was in desperate need of a life-saving bone marrow transplant.

Lara CasalottiLara Casalotti

More than 300 students and staff rallied together to sign up as potential donors as part of the #Match4Lara campaign, with the 25-year-old now in recovery after a successful transplant.

Now the university, which has campuses in Stratford and the Docklands, has teamed up with cancer charity Anthony Nolan to offer students work experience in the charity’s laboratories.

Bioscience lecturer Dr Casalotti said: “When my daughter was diagnosed with leukaemia, I got to know people at Anthony Nolan quite well.

“It just came about through a conversation.

Dr Stefano Casalotti at the UEL donor drive last  yearDr Stefano Casalotti at the UEL donor drive last year

“It’s good for the students to get experience in a real work environment.”

Five students will initially be taking part in the work experience scheme, rotating every two months to experience a variety of departments at Anthony Nolan’s laboratories, close to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.

They took part in a rigorous selection process, including interview rounds and training, before starting their placement earlier this month.

“We wanted to make sure the students were properly prepared,” Dr Casalotti said.

“Hopefully we can expand this in the future.

“I am very grateful to Anthony Nolan for offering our students this possibility, and I am sure our students will do UEL proud.”

Among those selected was Hayad Mohamud, who said: “Volunteering with Anthony Nolan has definitely been very inspiring for me, because having the ability to make a difference to someone else’s life strikes me as rewarding and gratifying.”

Fellow student Sheeza Imran Hafiz said: “I would definitely recommend volunteering to other students. It will benefit those who are interested or want to improve on their knowledge of immunology and those who are enthusiastic in different areas of biomedical science in general.”

Caroline Fallon, Anthony Nolan’s volunteer engagement manager, said, “We are delighted to be able to provide this opportunity to UEL students.

“At Anthony Nolan laboratories our scientists process hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of saliva samples per week to test the tissue type of potential new donors.

“Collaborating with the volunteering team at UEL means that we can enlist the help of talented and enthusiastic students to support this life-saving work, while also providing the students with the chance to experience daily routines within our labs, meet new people and develop scientific skills.”

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