Phil Denniff

Favourite Thing: @Students So you have spoken and this is to be my valedictory entry, now I can say what I like. . . Students you have been a great bunch to work with and your questions have ranged far and wide and shown your interest in science. And that is what IAS is all about, well it is for me. And my fellow scientists, who are all world experts in their fields, provided a pantheon of in-depth knowledge on a vast array of subjects. Good luck with you science.



11 plus failed – half a century ago. GSE English failed bit latter. Chemistry A levels passed something at last


Undergrad – chemistry. Post grad – organic chemistry University of Nottingham 1968 – 1974

Work History:

Summer jobs testing toothpaste and perfumes. National Coal Board studying testing coke and coal tar. Beecham Pharmaceuticals manufacturing penicillin



Current Job:

Bioanalyst measuring amounts of drugs in biological fluids (blood, plasma, urine yuck!). Currently evaluating the pros and cons of dried blood spots

Me and my work

Trying to do what I want to do and still let the boss think he is in control. Finding the limitations of dried blood spots, an alternative method of taking blood samples without having to stick a needle in your arm.

Have you ever wondered why you take some medicines once a day and others three times a day after food . That it part of the work I do. What I want to know is how long drugs take to get into the blood stream and how long they last and remain active in the body.

In particular I am looking to find ways to measure drug levels in the blood of children. Usually blood samples are taken from a vein with a needle. I take a drop of blood from a finger prick and dry it onto a piece of blotting paper, hence the name dried blood spot. Spotting the bllod onto the papermyimage1, drying the blood(these are new born screening samples in Napal myimage2 and punching  the dried spot myimage3





My Typical Day

My ideal day would be plan an experiment to answer a specific question, try and work out what is wrong with the plan, perform the experiment in the lab, then working out what the experimental data means and write it up.

Days are not long enough to complete my ideal day, in fact I would struggle to complete it in a month. It takes so long because of all the other stuff that has to be done, complying with health & safety and all the other regulations and red tape. Before going into the lab I discuss my experiment with the rest of the team to find ways to improve it and then discuss the results with them again to check the interpretation of the results is correct. Then we needed a robot to test all the cards for us so we got a Swiss company to make us one myimage4.  (then there is a video as well but it will never win any prizes – I just need to get the viewing number up).



What I'd do with the money

Buy microscopes for the Aldingbourne trust to use when schools visit their woodland nature trail

The Aldingbourne Trust ( ) in a charity that supports adults with learning disabilities, and runs workshops for schools in their woodland area. They are wanting to improve the scientific facilities they can offer, with the purchase of binocular microscopes to help visitors explore and appreciate the finer details of the natural world. From the exploration of mini beasts and pond water for the youngsters to more formal biodiversity project species counting at A level.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Introvert, pragmatic, inventive

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I have a wide catholic taste. Favourite blues

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Crossing the desert to the rose red city of Petra that is half as old as time itself

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

Im not telling. If I do they wont come true. But dreams can come true if you work at them.

What did you want to be after you left school?

Still trying to decide. If I had not gone to university I probably would have been a car mechanic or a plumber.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

That was a century ago. I have enough trouble remembering last week. I do however remember the lab fires but that was not school

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

Working on anti-malarial drugs. Will any of them get to market? Fingers crossed!

Tell us a joke.

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate. That’s a chemistry joke. This is a moral tale. At school my mother was told the earth was round. So she visualised it round like a dinner plate. The moral, format your theory to include all the available information. Check that information and don’t be afraid to change your theory in the light of new information.