Clinical Research Training Fellowships in collaboration with the Francis Crick Institute

Clinical Research Training Fellowships in collaboration with the Francis Crick Institute

In the last two years the NIHR
Biomedical Research Centre in collaboration with its partners at
Imperial College and University College London and with the Francis Crick Institute,
have rolled out an exciting one-year fellowship programme targeting clinical
trainees who are committed to a career in academic medicine. The goal is to exploit the cutting-edge
science at the Crick Institute with the extended portfolio of translational
research opportunities at the Biomedical Research Centre. Joining me today is
Doctor Robin Dart, gastroenterology trainee and one of our first BRC Crick
fellows. Robin, how far had you got on your gastroenterology training before you
started thinking about this research project? I was about halfway through my
gastroenterology training I’d initially done my SHO training here at Guy’s and St
Thomas’ and then moved to North East London to do that and I was well along
with my procedural skills and I was really looking for an option to do some
research training and so the Francis Crick Institute fellowships were a really
good way of me getting into the lab full-time to do some basic science research. Now your project is around innate immunity and inflammation so how did that link with the sorts of conditions that you had been dealing with as a clinical trainee? So I became interested in the inflammatory bowel diseases quite early when I was at medical school and I found that I was interested in host
immune interactions and so I wanted to do something in innate immunology because
it’s central to inflammatory bowel disease and inflammatory bowel disease
pathogenesis. So how did you find out about the Crick fellowships? So I’d been looking for some research opportunities and I had previously worked with one of
the consultants at Guy’s and St Thomas’, Peter Irving and he introduced me to
Professor Hayday who has an interest in this area and who then put together a Francis Crick
Institute fellowship which I then applied for So that year that you had
preparing, getting data, and preparing for external funding, tell me a little bit
about and the advantages of that extra year So this has been a really brilliant
opportunity for me to get into the lab. I’ve really enjoyed actually being able
to do the research which I’ve been planning on doing for quite some time.
Being able to be in the lab has just given me the opportunity to actually
understand what I’m doing, develop my research question further and I think it’s really
really important I think I would have really struggled to get further funding
to complete this as a PhD had I not had that experience which I’m
having at the moment . And did the research plan overall change while… once
you joined the lab? I think it did. So we started off with a focus on one aspect of this immune surveillance or innate immunity if you like, and I’ve really
broadened that out and changed my focus of that to make it more relevant to the inflammatory bowel disease question. And then you applied to the Wellcome Trust for
funding how did that go? So it was it was a lot of work to put the grant application together and I was very lucky that I wasn’t in full clinical training trying
to do it in the evenings and after clinic. So I put that together and then I
went to interview to defend the project and I think I was very well-equipped
to defend the project because I’d spent so much time in the laboratory. I was also
well prepared having had several mock interviews including with the BRC and
that made it a much less stressful day than it may otherwise have been. So, a bit more about the project. What sort of laboratory skills have you acquired in the last year or so? So the majority of what I’ve done recently has been tissue culture and flow cytometry and some
activation so i’m looking at ex vivo cells I’m also learning skills, molecular
skills in transfecting cell lines and PCR. I’m in a really big multi-disciplinary
lab so it’s been really good. I’ve been able to learn different techniques from
different people and that’s really what I wanted from my PhD. And finally how do
you think that having the link with the Crick will help support your research? So the Crick is a really exciting opportunity and it’s great to be one of the first clinicians in there. So what I’ve mainly been doing is some
immunohistochemistry at the Crick Institute which is at Lincoln’s Inn Fields
currently and will move to Kings Cross and then the bioinformatics is going to be
extremely important and we’re going to use their sequencing facility to further
understand these cells in much greater detail than we would otherwise have been
able to. Robin congratulations on your Wellcome fellowship and thank you for telling us
about your project and the fellowship you been working on thanks very much. So Robin’s experience highlights the value of taking time out of a busy clinical
schedule and spending time in the laboratory preparing for a highly
competitive research fellowship programme.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

1 Comment

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