supplement schemeThe MRC Supplement Scheme is run for the benefit of Imperial MRC students and helps fund a wide range of research and training activities. Our recent awardees have let us know how they made use of their funding, see the profiles below to explore further, and find out how you too can benefit!

MRC Supplement Scheme awardees

Emily Heathward - Year 4 Department of Metabolism, Digestion & Reproduction (Faculty of Medicine)

What opportunity made possible for you by the MRC Supplement Scheme?
Policy internship with the Medical Research Council

Which category did your application fall within?

Placement or Internship

Name of host institution/company

Imperial College London

What did you enjoy the most or find most valuable about this opportunity?

  • I was involved in projects across the MRC, namely the Policy and Governance teams, as well as the Strategic Engagement team. This allowed me to get an overview of all areas of the MRC, which was incredibly interesting and rewarding. Everyone was very welcoming and willing to talk in introduction meetings – felt incorporated into the MRC community, was able to meet with members of the greater MRC boards as well as observe a grant review board meeting
  • Weekly check-ins with my line-manager were fantastic. She was supportive in a mentorship role as well as a line manager, and took into account my areas of interest and arranged meetings to explore those areas further (I.e. science comms chat with comms manager) that were very useful!
  • Meeting with the head of EDI at the MRC was also fantastic – I have an interest in EDI, as I’ve been acting as a representative for DTP students and have been discussing these issues with the leadership of the Imperial MRC DTP program, and she was also available for further discussion after. Also invited me to the EDI forum, which was great to see these issues discussed.
  • My time with the Strategic Engagement team was excellent - great structure, clear goals, weekly update meeting, interesting & diverse projects. Worked mostly with Sarah Trenfield on the Millennium Medal projects – very inspiring as a research scientist, fantastic insight into the role of the MRC in influencing research culture through initiatives like this, and also gave me a fantastic opportunity to gain experience in science communication, and I drafted the UKRI announcement article and promotional materials for the 2021 prize that were published on the UKRI website and twitter on Jan 7th 2022.
  • Working with the Policy and Governance teams were great as well: gave me an insight into policy rollout, and I facilitated break out session and carried out analysis of existing policies to assist the implementation of a new Open Science policy from the MRC. I was also able to work on policy/guidance development, involving EDI, carrying out an extensive analysis of grants submitted to MRC Boards to assess their inclusion of EDI criteria, as preliminary work for creating a new MRC policy. I was also able to work with the MRC Insight Blog team, to write a blog based on an upcoming policy change, as well as creating the template and guidance documents for an internal policy newsletter that will be circulated around the teams of the MRC.
  • I also gained experience with the policy & regulation side of MRC work, seeing how the MRC functions with the MHRA and other relevant stakeholders.
  • Honestly, my only negative point was that this internship could have been a couple months longer – I think six months would have really allowed some projects to come to fruition? The MRC offered to fund me for an additional 3 months to continue my placement with them; however, I was unable to accept since I had already accepted a position with a start date in January that could not be postponed further.
  • Overall, I had a really positive experience, learned a lot about this particular area of policy & governance, and how the MRC fits into the national (& international) policy landscape, as well as the sort of projects and work involved in a career in this sector. I enjoyed the work and found the people I worked with inspiring, and this has definitely encouraged me to look more into the sector as a potential career path later.

Kyle Greenland - Year 1 Department of Surgery and Cancer (Faculty of Medicine)

What opportunity made possible for you by the MRC Supplement Scheme?
Home Office licensee training

Which category did your application fall within?

High cost training (in-vivo, imaging, bioinformatics etc)

Name of host institution/company

Red Kite Veterinary Consultants

What did you enjoy the most or find most valuable about this opportunity?
The MRC funding enabled me to attend a Home Office licensee training course in order to obtain my personal licence. This will enable me to perform in vivo experiments later in my PhD in order to better understand the novel drug delivery system I am currently investigating.

Coco Zhang - Year 2 Department of Surgery and Cancer (Faculty of Medicine)

What opportunity made possible for you by the MRC Supplement Scheme?
Open Access Publication Fee

Which category did your application fall within?
PhD to postdoctoral transition fund (open access publication)
 
Name of host institution/company

Pain Journal - International Association for the Study of Pain

What did you enjoy the most or find most valuable about this opportunity?
Make the publication open access. The application process is straightforward and easy.

Ellen Olden - Year 1 Department of Surgery and Cancer (Faculty of Medicine)

What opportunity made possible for you by the MRC Supplement Scheme?
In vivo animal training

Which category did your application fall within?
High cost training (in-vivo, imaging, bioinformatics etc)


What did you enjoy the most or find most valuable about this opportunity?
The MRC supplement scheme provided me the opportunity to undertake high cost training that will significantly enhance the scope of research I will be able to carry out during my PhD.

James Kavanagh - PhD Year 1 Department of Infectious Disease (Faculty of Medicine)

What opportunity made possible for you by the MRC Supplement Scheme?
Online coding courses

Which category did your application fall within?
High cost training (in-vivo, imaging, bioinformatics etc)

What did you enjoy the most or find most valuable about this opportunity?
Before this opportunity, I was struggling with the demands of learning so many new skills to complete my project. Having 3 months to focus on retraining in bioinformatics and coding was the perfect way to develop the necessary skills and take stock on my project. Having the freedom to dictate my own studies meant I was able to tailor my learning and develop a wide range of skills from statistics to data visualisation and good coding etiquette. I am exceptionally grateful for this opportunity and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone considering it, and even those not considering it!

Sofina Begum - PhD Year 3 Department of Surgery and Cancer (Faculty of Medicine)

What opportunity made possible for you by the MRC Supplement Scheme?
Fieldwork at the Australian National Phenome Centre

Which category did your application fall within?

Exceptional training (fieldwork, courses etc)

Name of host institution/company

Australian National Phenome Centre

What did you enjoy the most or find most valuable about this opportunity?
During my time at the Australian National Phenome Centre in Perth, Western Australia, I was given the opportunity to participate in several projects, namely the Western Australia SARS-CoV-2 metabonomics study (resulting in participation in 8 publications) and the Paediatric Acute Burns study (resulting in 2 publications and ongoing work). I was able to collaborate with the team to develop methods for data integration strategies. The opportunity enabled me complete research that not only contributed to my PhD thesis but also to my portfolio as a bioinformatician and researcher, forming international collaborations that will continue beyond my PhD. Due to my exposure to a variety of studies and data modalities, this opened me up to a a multitude of post-doctoral positions.

 

Marina Natoli - Writing up Department of Surgery and Cancer (Faculty of Medicine)

What opportunity made possible for you by the MRC Supplement Scheme?
Visiting Switzerland to attend Postdoctoral interviews

Which category did your application fall within?
PhD to postdoctoral transition fund (travel)

What did you enjoy the most or find most valuable about this opportunity?
Thanks to the MRC supplement scheme I was able to travel to attend interviews and secure a job at University of Basel, starting right after the end of my PhD. It has been a real privilege to have the support of the MRC at this critical moment in my career.

Kitty Murphy - PhD Year 1 Department of Brain Sciences (Faculty of Medicine)

What opportunity made possible for you by the MRC Supplement Scheme?
Laptop accessories for remote working

Which category did your application fall within?
COVID-19 supplement

What did you enjoy the most or find most valuable about this opportunity?
Thanks to the COVID-19 supplement I was able to purchase laptop accessories that have greatly aided remote working, particularly as my PhD project is computational.

Nora Schmit - PhD Year 2 School of Public Health (Faculty of Medicine)

What opportunity made possible for you by the MRC Supplement Scheme?
Course on Bayesian statistics

Which category did your application fall within?
High cost training (in-vivo, imaging, bioinformatics etc)

Name of host/company
PR Statistics Glasgow

What did you enjoy the most or find most valuable about this opportunity?
The course gave me an excellent introduction to Bayesian statistics, allowing me to better understand ongoing work and access further training resources on the topic in my department. It also helped me think critically about the planned direction of my PhD project.

Charlotte Luff - PhD Year 1 Department of Brain Sciences (Faculty of Medicine)

What opportunity made possible for you by the MRC Supplement Scheme?
Training opportunity at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Which category did your application fall within?
Exceptional training (fieldwork, courses etc)

Name of host/company
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

What did you enjoy the most or find most valuable about this opportunity?
The most valuable part of my time as a visiting student at the Boyden Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology was becoming proficient in the in vivo automated patch clamp technique. I was given fantastic training from members of the lab that developed the technology and use of a patch-clamp rig to practice and collect data for my PhD.

Kirsty Balachandran - PhD Year 3 Department of Surgery and Cancer (Faculty of Medicine)

What opportunity made possible for you by the MRC Supplement Scheme?
Attending Introduction to RNA-Seq and Functional Interpretation course at the EMBL-EBI (European Bioinformatics Institute)

Which category did your application fall within?
High cost training (in-vivo, imaging, bioinformatics etc)

Name of host/company
The European Bioinformatics Institute

What did you enjoy the most or find most valuable about this opportunity?
Through funding from the Imperial MRC supplement scheme, I attended the ‘Introduction to RNA-Seq and Functional Interpretation’ course at the EMBL-EBI. As a clinical research fellow entering the final year of my PhD and about to receive data from an RNA-Seq experiment, this course gave me an excellent overview of the software packages, analysis techniques and resources available to begin processing my own transcriptomic data. The course comprised a well-balanced mix of didactic lectures, practical sessions and group workshops, which was very effective. The teaching faculty were experts their fields, often developers of commonly used software packages or curators of relevant databases. There were ample opportunities for networking, both with other International delegates and faculty members. Overall, I certainly came away from the course with a much better understanding of the field and a clearer picture of how to approach analysing my own data. Importantly, I also feel much more confident in undertaking this part of my PhD studies now and have several bioinformatics contacts from the course who I could collaborate with in the future.

Theodora Constantin - PhD Year 3 Department of Surgery and Cancer (Faculty of Medicine)

What opportunity made possible for you by the MRC Supplement Scheme?
In vivo training for xenograft studies

Which category did your application fall within?
High cost training (in-vivo, imaging, bioinformatics etc.)

What did you enjoy the most or find most valuable about this opportunity?
Receiving supplementary funding through this scheme enabled me to acquire the set of practical skills needed for xenograft studies. It also allowed me to conduct animal experiments that were vital to my PhD studies. Importantly, I was able to get trained on using advanced non-invasive preclinical optical imaging techniques by experienced technicians and researchers at Imperial College. I strongly believe that this has widened my future career options within both academia and industry.

Grace Barker - PhD Year 4 Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction (Faculty of Medicine)

What opportunity made possible for you by the MRC Supplement Scheme?
Attended 'The First Stellenbosch University African Microbiome Workshop and Symposium' organised by my collaborators.

Which category did your application fall within?
Exceptional training (fieldwork, courses etc)

Name of host/company
Stellenbosch University

What did you enjoy the most or find most valuable about this opportunity?
The highlight of my experience at the First Stellenbosch Microbiome Workshop and Symposium was attending highly engaging talks delivered by world leaders in the field. I was subsequently able to participate in discussions surrounding the topics covered, including how the challenges of microbiome research can be tackled, the importance of collaboration and how the field can be driven forward in the future. Additionally, meeting many collaborators face-to-face and visiting the site from which the human trial central to my research is run was an amazing privilege.