Supporting the next generation of cancer researchers
Posted Aug 11 2011 12:00am
We’re delighted to announce that we’ve given prestigious fellowships to ten promising junior cancer researchers who we think will be tomorrow’s research leaders.
Many of our scientists are world-renowned experts in their field but they will eventually retire.
So to ensure that we stay at the cutting edge of cancer research, we need to make sure that our next generation of scientists are ready to continue making the fantastic breakthroughs that mean fewer people will die from cancer.
We like to think that discovering and nurturing exceptional talent is something we have become rather good at; some of our best scientists have been with us from early on in their careers . We thought you might be interested in learning a little more about how we invest in the future.
So who were we looking for? In short, we wanted the world’s brightest and most innovative young research minds and to find them, we put them through a gruelling nine-month selection process of which even Lord Sugar would have approved. Our expert panel of world-renowned senior scientists – together with a host of international peer reviewers – whittled down nearly 100 applications to identify the ten most outstanding new investigators. Each new “fellow” will receive long-term support to enable them to establish or develop their own research group.
“I am always astonished by the great new ideas that I see at these interviews. The funding from Cancer Research UK will give these ten scientists the time and resources to take on challenging problems in cancer. I look forward to watching them develop their own independent careers and join the next generation of cancer research leaders in the UK and internationally.”
This is the first time we have been able to support so many new investigators in one go and is testament to our commitment to investing in the future.
Our other fellowship panels have been working hard too. We have pledged to support five up-and-coming clinician scientists, who are working at the boundary of the lab and the clinic. We will also be supporting three exceptionally talented researchers working in population science, covering areas such as clinical and public health epidemiology, and educational and behavioural research.
But succeeding as a successful independent scientist requires much more than just funding.
Our new investigators might have shown that they can make a centrifuge sing, but running a world-class lab requires a whole new repertoire of skills – including people management, recruitment and managing the lab budget. And they’ll have to work hard to establish their reputations and carve out their own research niche against a ruthlessly competitive backdrop.
So to help them along their way, each new investigator nominates a mentor – a senior scientist who’s been there, done it and got the labcoat. They’ll be on hand to help their junior scientist navigate unfamiliar waters. We’ll also send our fellows on lab management courses to further develop their skills and we’ll help identify and nip any problems in the bud by undertaking a formal appraisal half-way through their fellowship.
Finally, getting our scientists together and talking to each other is also really important to us, and so we invite all our scientists who are at a similar career stage, as well as a few senior scientists, to some networking meetings. They are great forums for exchanging ideas, fostering collaborations and getting a few ‘handy hints’.
Dr Marie Boyd of the University of Strathclyde has just finished a Senior Cancer Research Fellowship and was appreciative of this support.
“The fellowship has been key to establishing me in my career and setting up my group in new labs. I consider myself very fortunate in receiving this award and for all the mentoring the fellowship team have provided over its course.”
Praise indeed, and we look forward to welcoming all our new scientists into the Cancer Research UK family.