Conor McCafferty is a PhD student with the Haematology Research Group within the Clinical Sciences Theme.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to join MCRI.

I started at MCRI in 2017 as a summer student, in Haematology Research with Vera Ignjatovic and Paul Monagle. That role then became student volunteering, which then became an honours year, which has now become my PhD, which I commenced this year. Our team is dedicated to understanding developmental haemostasis, which is the concept that the processes of bleeding and clotting are different in newborns, children and adults. Despite this leading to different clinical outcomes for children, we still know very little about bleeding and clotting across the spectrum of age. In my time at MCRI, I've been involved in researching coagulation and COVID-19, age-specific responses to anti-platelet medications (like aspirin), age-specific differences in blood proteins, and helping to develop novel techniques for detecting blood clots in children. 

Can you describe to us what we are seeing in the image we have featured?
Blood clots are complex structures that are largely made up of the protein fibrin. These fibrin proteins create a scaffold that traps other blood cells and normally occur to plug a wounded vessel and limit bleeding. This image is looking at the fibrin network (green) inside a blood clot that was created from a blood sample taken from a healthy child. 
 
Tell us about the project which this image is from and what's next for you and the project? 
My project involves looking at the physical structure of a blood clot, and how this structure changes across age. I'm hoping to make more images like this one, from children at all different ages, to provide a clear understanding of the end-product of clotting and correlate this with previous findings in developmental haemostasis. My images are currently all from healthy individuals and establish how a 'normal' clot should look. Moving forward, it is crucial for us to take this information and translate it to children that are suffering from bleeding and clotting disorders, to deliver precise and effective treatment.