Katie McDonald

Favourite Thing: Science is brilliant from the puzzle-solving point of view – every case is so different.



I went to Alva Academy (small comprehensive in central Scotland) and then Glasgow University, graduated 2008


Medical degree, postgraduate certificate in surgical sciences, Highers in English, Maths, and all three sciences at school.

Work History:

Elgin, Aberdeen (North of Scotland), St Georges Hospital (South London), North Middlesex Hospital (North London). All of those as a doctor, plus various rubbish jobs as a student in Glasgow (call centres, sorting letters at the Royal Mail etc)

Current Job:



North Middlesex Hospital

Me and my work

I’m a pathologist, working out diseases in tissues of living people as well as doing post mortems

I cut up organs to find cancers, to help guide treatments for patients. It’s a very visual job, mainly using a microscope. Post mortems are a small part of my job too, which is the bit everyone asks about 🙂

My Typical Day

Mainly spent at the microscope, looking at cells stained different colours

I maybe spend an hour cutting up specimens, which can range in size from a tiny fragment of skin to a whole bowel. I get plenty of thin, glass slides showing all the cells of the organs and try to work out if there’s a cancer, how far it has spread, what treatments it will respond to etc. I also occasionally do post mortems to work out why patients have died, so their families know more about their disease and also to ensure nothing bad occurred.

What I'd do with the money

A picture quiz for schools

I had though to wait and decide on this IF I won anything, but friends have been giving me ideas!  I would definitely like to do something with a school, perhaps in Hackney where I live. It’s a very deprived area and I think a good visual quiz with prizes would be an incentive to learning about different organs. I’d like the quiz to be visual, in a “guess the organ” kind of style with pictures of what can go wrong too. I love taking photos with my microscope. It would be fun to put the quiz on a website too, and inexpensive. Perhaps everyone can join in then!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Interested in everything.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Too hard to choose! I like lots of types of music. Today I’ve listened to Guns n Roses, Francois and the Atlas Mountains and the Prodigy.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Again, hard to choose. This year I trekked in the Amazon jungle and saw giant river otters, tortoises, tarantulas, monkeys and macaws up close.

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

1. To clone myself several times so I could have enough time to travel the world properly. 2. To be able to speak every language (I can only do English, French and a tiny bit of Spanish right now) 3. To get better at rock climbing!

What did you want to be after you left school?

When I was in primary school I wanted to be an astronaut and wrote to NASA. They wrote back and said “only Americans can join us” so I decided to be a doctor instead. Probably safer this way.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

No, but I probably should have been. I got away with a lot because I’d always finished my work before distracting everyone else :)

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

I’ve been in emergency situations as a doctor where patients (and people on the street!) have had a better chance of staying alive because of me and my specialist knowledge, which is pretty special. And now I get to look at people’s brains – not many people can say that!

Tell us a joke.

David Cameron is Prime Minister.

Other stuff

Work photos: