Medical researchers have a great impact on our lives as they provide hope to people suffering from health conditions. 

At PBI, our research team focuses on the discovery of new science that addresses unmet medical needs of patients who suffer with incurable blood disorders. Our researchers work non-stop, more than 40 hours a week, working hard to bring lifesaving and life-changing treatments to people in WA and beyond. But have you ever wondered what life in the lab is like?

With a daily dose of lab experiments, coffee, discussions, reading, writing and more coffee, PBI researcher Jim Tiao gives us a sneak peek into his typical day in the lab.

Meet Jim, Medical Research Scientist at PBI

“The adage: "Breakfast is the most important start to the day," rings true for many, but for me a nuclear strength coffee is an even better start to the day.  Armed with caffeinated blood in the system, I am ready to face the challenges any experimental outcome can throw at a scientist. 

Depending on the hypothesis being tested (i.e., proposed explanation to test a theory), scientific experiments can last from a few hours to months and years, which makes the initial design critical. 

Jim's typical day

My typical day would always start by checking the progress of a previously designed experiment.  For example, checking the health of human cells grown in the laboratory, ensuring the reliability of results obtained from any given cell model used.  Once confirmed, it is then followed by a systematic process of harvesting and analysing cells undergoing experimentation.

"Looking after laboratory cells is akin to looking after a pet; regular check-ups and feeding cycle is important."

Healthy cell-lines are a prerequisite for dependable data.  If I am running an overnight biochemical protocol, I will also check to ensure no errors had occurred during the night.  Once an experiment is complete with data, a new experiment will either be designed to test a subsequent hypothesis, or a new hypothesis may be tested to answer additional questions. 

Scientists are trained to multi-task; therefore, in between incubation periods are great opportunities to squeeze in emails, meetings, student consultations, administrative tasks etc.; and the occasional calorie intake with a caffeine top-up if time permits.  In between experiments are also a good time to catch up on the scientific literature, writing manuscripts to circulate any research outcomes, as well as grant applications to ensure continuity of funding for further research."

"As you can see, a researcher’s day can be as exciting, or dull, as desired.”

A love for research

Nominated by fellow colleagues in recognition and appreciation of the contribution he made to PBI and the global blood community last year, Jim won PBI's 2021 Bloody Brilliant Award, an annual PBI employee recognition award.

To celebrate, we caught up with Jim at the award ceremony to ask what he enjoys most about his role.


“As a medical researcher, you come into daily contact with new discoveries and information; having an answer to a proposed question is extremely satisfying. Archimedes had his eureka moment when determining the purity of gold, and the same feeling of excitement drives me to dare and do the experiments."

"I also enjoy helping students finish their projects and complete/earn their respective degrees.  Knowing that you are contributing to someone’s learning as well as training the next generation of researchers is extremely satisfying.”

Jim clearly loves his job very much and we’d like to thank Jim for taking time out of his busy schedule to give us a glimpse of what life is like in the PBI lab.

Visit PBI’s current research projects to learn more. 


Dr Jim Tiao is a senior scientist at the Perth Blood Institute with 15 years of research experience in Switzerland and Australia. Dr Tiao is also the laboratory and scientific lead for the Blood Disorder research group at Murdoch University. His research focuses on identifying high-value nucleic acid biomarkers in rare and difficult to drug disorders in a thrombosis and haemostasis setting. In addition, he is also the clinical trials manager for biobank samples.