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€3.2 million investment to train twenty future leaders and innovators at Queen’s

An investment of €3.2 million is helping to train the next generation of leaders and innovators through a unique interdisciplinary research programme at Queen’s University Belfast.

The SPaRK programme, a Horizon 2020 funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie doctoral training programme, combines ground-breaking research projects with higher level skills development. It seeks to produce creative thinkers and problem-solvers.

Twenty researchers from a total of fourteen countries are taking part in the SPaRK programme.

Their research aims to solve global problems and projects include the development of a medicine patch for wound healing; creative media as a vehicle for reduction of suicide risk in men; and researching how to make museums more inclusive for people with disabilities.

Álvaro Cárcamo Martínez, SPaRK Early Stage Researcher at Queen’s is from Chile. He said: “My research focuses on the development of an innovative medicine for the treatment of basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer that is very common in the UK.

“I applied for SPaRK because of the unique opportunity offered, where I not only work on a fascinating research project but also have the chance to attend training for higher skills development with colleagues from a diverse range of countries and research areas.”

By participating in the SPaRK programme, the students will have an edge in the highly competitive, global job market. As well as expertise in their particular research area, they will gain interdisciplinary training at the Queen’s Graduate School and develop the intellectual flexibility required to respond to a constantly changing professional environment.

Professor Margaret Topping, Dean at Queen’s University Belfast’s Graduate School and Director of the SPaRK programme, said: “The research topics of our SPaRK fellows span multiple disciplines within twelve of our Schools.”

“Their work covers a very diverse range of subject areas. It is exciting that we can attract these excellent early-career researchers, who will gain a unique interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral and international training experience through SPaRK whilst contributing to the University’s research.”

Speaking at the event, Heather Cousins, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Department for the Economy, said: “Globally, we face many challenges today that cannot be resolved in isolation.  That is why it is so exciting that the researchers being developed through the breadth and depth of the SPaRK programme will be the creative thinkers, problem-solvers and leaders of tomorrow.”

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