Our general meeting took place in QUB this April, marking the end of the TRACT researchers’ first year. Hosted by Dr Richard Turkington and his team in QUB, the meeting began with Richard welcoming all to Queen’s. Dr Daniela Zisterer, as project coordinator, gave a synopsis of the work carried out by the TRACT consortium in its first year and highlighted the exciting events ahead. Ms Catherine McPartlin then gave an overview of year 1 from a project-manager’s perspective, explaining what will be expected coming into year 2 and the midterm review.
Each ESR presented the work they carried out throughout their first year. The standard of research and presentations had increased tremendously since our first meeting in March ’17, highlighting the success of the programme’s ongoing skills and training element.
After each ESR had presented, the poster session began. A number of colleagues from QUB’s Centre for Experimental Medicine and QUB’s Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology attended this poster session, along with a huge turnout from the Oesophageal Patients’ Association Northern Ireland. We offer a big thank you to all who attended, especially those from the OPANI whose words of encouragement were valued by all of the researchers present.
The rest of the week provided a number of excellent training opportunities for the ESRs. It began with ‘Computational Biology’, a training session in 'R' and data analysis taught by Dr Jaine Blayney. A bioinformatician with a fantastic knowledge of cancer research, this training will be extremely useful for future analysis by all ESRs. This was followed by ‘Communicating Science’. This training session was led by renowned journalists who emphasised the importance of tailoring our research presentations and articles for the audience at hand. Mr Alan Morton and Mr Malachi O’Doherty had each ESR practise presenting their cutting-edge research to different audiences, recording each ESR as they went. It was a great learning-curve listening to these recordings, and the critiques from everyone present was extremely useful for future dissemination and communication opportunities.
Finally the ESRs had the opportunity to learn from the experts in imaging at Andor in their facilities in West Belfast. It was really interesting hearing from scientists and engineers in Andor, as leading developers on the forefront of imaging software and camera technology globally. The team at Andor were equally interested to hear about the work of TRACT and to hear about how future potential collaborations could benefit both groups.
The week was a fantastic opportunity to improve our skill sets with tailored and fascinating workshops, and to network with our colleagues based in other centres throughout the TRACT consortium. A huge thank you to all those who led the training sessions, and to Dr Turkington and his team at Queen’s for making all 11 ESRs and their supervisors feel so welcome in Belfast.
ESR4 Niamh McCabe
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