Research satisfaction

OT  speaks to John Maguire about researching the electrical activity of different types of photoreceptors in the retina

John Maguire

Tell us about what you do

I’m currently completing my PhD in visual electrophysiology, so my days are a mixture of clinical work, data collection, keeping up to date with research publications, and writing. Recently, because I am coming to the end of this project, I’m pretty much glued to my laptop writing. Within the university we have a fully functioning electrodiagnostic suite where we also test patients for the NHS. For me, this is the ideal scenario because it gives me a mixture of both clinical and research work, so it’s not hard to find enthusiasm.

What is your professional passion? 

Electrodiagnostics play a fundamental role in the functional assessment of retinal pathology. What drives me is improving techniques in this field to enhance measurement. My research is currently focused on isolating the electrical activity of the different types of photoreceptors in the retina as one method of improving diagnostics. I think as genotyping of retinal pathology becomes more widespread, better structural and functional assessment of the retina will be essential.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell younger John: don’t skip piano lessons so you can hang out with your mates, listen more in lectures and don’t bleach your hair. It’s not good for it.

What is your most cringe-worthy career moment?

Nothing really in my current career that I’d like to admit, but while at university I had a summer job in the security team for a large building in the financial centre in Dublin. Naturally, I had all the confidence of youth and replied with certainty when asked if I knew how to turn off the building’s test alarm, which was set to go off. All the confidence in the world, however, didn’t help me when the alarms across five trading floors were going full blast just before lunch on a Monday morning, resulting in a full building evacuation. Not the most popular security man in the hut that day.

How do you manage a work/life balance?

Work is work, and life is life. Occasionally the two can interact sociably, but should never overlap. 

What do you do to unwind?

I’m learning to play the piano, and try to get to the gym a few days a week.

You have won the OT lottery. What are the first three things you would do with the £1m jackpot? 

I would buy a big house, a grand piano and the latest ganzfeld stimulator.

Do you have your next holiday booked? Where are you going?

I’m heading to Dingle, Ireland, later this month. We are expecting it to be stormy, sunny, wet, dry, cold and tropical, all in an unpredictable pattern…But that’s the west coast of Ireland.