“Not just microscopes and pipetting”
MCRC-DCS Postgraduate Research Showcase 2022
On 12-13th May 2022, the MCRC and Division of Cancer Sciences (DCS) hosted the first Postgraduate Research Showcase. The postgraduate members of the organising committee: Charlotte Mellor, Alis Hales, Ashley Horne, George Morrissey, Melanie Seaton reflect on the successes and take-homes of this in-person event, and why they look forward to this showcase being first of many.
The first, and definitely not last, MCRC-DCS Postgraduate Research Showcase has been and gone and as the organising committee we felt it was a great success. Bringing together different postgraduate students from an array of disciplines and corners of the University of Manchester gave us all the opportunity to share ideas, learn about other people’s science and make new friends. It was also the first opportunity for many of us to actually meet in the physical world, thanks to the recent reliance on remote working.
One of the amazing aspects that struck us, as the organising team, was how diverse the research outputs from MCRC and DCS truly are and how it isn’t just about ‘microscopes and pipetting’. Covid and its ability to silo us into our labs and groups has really blinkered us from the great work that is happening all around us. Amazingly, despite the barriers and speed bumps the pandemic has inevitably caused, there was so much great research to be shared and it is clear there are many bright futures ahead of us all.
Day One: Thursday 12th May 2022
Day one kicked off with lunch (as all great things start with a meal) followed by postgrad-led oral presentations covering tumour hypoxia, proton vs photon radiotherapy, longitudinal population based obesity cancer risk, protein therapeutic resistance mechanisms and exploratory work into reducing treatment-related toxicity. The keynote speaker for the day was Prof. Philip Quirke, Professor of Pathology at the University of Leeds. He gave an inspiring talk on his career in cancer research, and provided useful recommendations to ensure both a happy personal and professional life.
Philip’s recommendations have never been so important as the world tries to move forward from Covid. The day ended with postgraduate posters and a drinks reception. As the poster judges, we can highly recommend discussing science and socialising with our peers together in the same room.
Day Two: Friday 13th May 2022
Day two was a full day and kicked off with a careers panel. A variety of speakers representing a diverse range of postdoctoral careers spoke enthusiastically about their career journeys. Key messages included the importance of networking, having the courage to be creative with your research and perhaps most importantly having confidence in your own talents/abilities when faced with adversity – a message that would have resonated with Professor Quirke. This was followed by the second poster session, which again afforded the opportunity to have more informal discussions about the amazing work people are doing in Manchester. Again, the diversity of research was noteworthy with work showcasing early detection and screening, novel biomarkers to help predict response to therapies and proteomic analysis of cancer cell signalling. Before lunch we had time for two oral presentations; one focusing on early detection of cancer – an area of real research strength for Manchester; and another discussing the important role of the tumour micro-environment in response to therapies.
Following lunch, we had our second keynote speaker – Prof. Nicola Curtin, Professor of Experimental Therapeutics at Newcastle University. Another inspiring presentation and a great reminder that neither careers or research need to be linear and that a few diversions and adventures along the way are acceptable and can be enjoyable. It was also great to hear from someone who was involved in the PARP inhibitor journey, considering they are prescribed in the clinic and improve patient outcomes. The day concluded with 6 oral presentations from a diverse group of junior researchers.
Topics covered included an innovatively pragmatic and perhaps more acceptable approach to cervical cancer screening, a qualitative research project exploring breast cancer risk estimation in women aged between 30 and 39, Fork protection complex factor and PAR dynamics, exploring improved ovarian cancer screening with HE4 serum protein detection, BRCA gene testing in ovarian cancer and the role of osteomodulin in breast cancer migration.
Key messages [from the careers panellists] included the importance of networking, having the courage to be creative with your research and perhaps most importantly having confidence in your own talents/abilities when faced with adversity
Prizes were awarded to postgrad researchers for first place and highly commended oral presentations (sponsored by Proteintech) and posters (sponsored by PCR Biosystems). Special congratulations goes out to our prize winners:
- Jennifer Davies-Oliveira (First place oral presenter prize)
- Danielle Love (highly commended oral presenter prize)
- Rhys Owens (First Place poster prize)
- Jim Zhong (highly commended poster prize)
Prize winners at the MCRC-DCS Research Showcase. Left to right - Danielle Love, Rhys Owens. and Jennifer Davies-Oliveira.
Highly commended poster prize winner Jim Zhong in front of his poster
Reflecting on the Postgraduate Showcase event it was inspiring to see 16 oral presentations, 23 poster presentations, 4 knowledgeable experts for the careers panel and 2 inspiring keynote speakers. Thanks to our new tech savvy video conferencing skills, some of the presentations were pre-recorded and all proceeded without a hitch! As the organising committee who represent different years of our projects and different disciplines, we all got something out of the event. From those at the beginning of their journeys: seeing what is possible and that they can put imposter syndrome to bed once and for all. To those in their later stages: enjoying their friends and colleagues’ research output up on the big screen.
As the organising committee we would like to thank Dr Andrew Gilmore and Dr Georgina Binnie-Wright in supporting us putting the showcase together and also the wider MCRC and DCS. And of course, we are incredibly grateful for the sponsorship from PCR Biosystems, Proteintech and the Doctoral Academy as without their support the event would not have happened. showcase has provided a unique and valuable experience to postgrads to show off their hard work in front of a friendly audience of other early career researchers keen to learn from each other. This information sharing has the potential to increase collaborative working and ultimately produce better, more useful research and aligns nicely with the MCRC’s research ethos of Team Science. We hope everyone enjoyed attending as much as we did organising, and we look forward to the next showcase!
Organising committee of the MCRC-DCS Postgraduate Research Showcase: (L-R) Dr Andrew Gilmore, Charlotte Mellor, Alis Hales, Ashley Horne, George Morrissey, Melanie Seaton, Dr Georgina Binnie-Wright
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