Round-up of 2016 event
In October, over 60 early-career researchers from around the country joined us at our annual Making Progress event to hear from their peers as well as researchers with decades of experience.
The first sessions featured 5-minute talks from 12 of our funded researchers on topics ranging from genome sequencing to nanoparticle drug delivery systems. This gave an opportunity for PhD students to get their first experience of giving a presentation to an external audience.
Our Deputy Director of Research, Dr Matthew Hobbs, explained what our funding committee look for in applications and highlighted pitfalls that can mean promising research goes unfunded. This was followed by a Q&A session with an expert panel of senior researchers, which overran due to the sheer volume of questions and interest from the audience.
One of the key messages from the experienced researchers was the importance of collaboration. Events like these bring together researchers to share and inspire new ideas. Dr Claire Fletcher, from Imperial College, said “We actually began a collaboration with another researcher after meeting at last year’s event. We’ve since been to his lab for a week to learn new techniques and we’re now preparing to submit a grant application together.”
This was neatly followed by talks explaining how researchers can support us. Dr Lina Carmona from UCL spoke about her lab’s work to organise a ‘Lab Olympics’, which raised over £1000. Dr Chris Armstrong from Queen’s University Belfast also spoke about his fundraising and public awareness efforts, including hosting a coffee morning for members of the public to ask questions about prostate cancer.
The audience also heard one of our Grant Advisory Panel volunteers, Vivien Pipe, speak about her personal experience of prostate cancer. Vivien lost her first husband only nine months after a diagnosis of aggressive disease, and her second husband is currently on active surveillance with low-risk prostate cancer. Her heartfelt story was very well received, with many of the researchers saying how motivating it was to see the personal impact of the work they are doing.
Our keynote speakers, Professor Norman Maitland, Mr Hash Ahmed and Dr Gert Attard, each spoke about how their careers developed – in the lab, in the clinic and going between the two. A common underlying theme across the keynotes was the importance of being flexible in your approach to allow you to adapt to new opportunities.
Professor Maitland highlighted the importance of not being too disheartened when things don’t go your way… he even gave examples from past funding rejection letters he has received over the years (not from Prostate Cancer UK, to our relief!) where some of the assertions made later turned out to be false. These examples helped to demonstrate the importance of believing in your own work, and in considering every possible angle, as you may still have the last laugh.