Posted on 7th October 2022 by bwarman

BCI PhD Day - Celebrating the work of our postgraduate research students

After taking place online for the last two years running, we were pleased to be able to hold this year’s annual BCI PhD Day in person on 15th September. Organised by the BCI PhD Forum, PhD Day celebrates the work of our postgraduate research students and provides the opportunity for them to showcase their research to fellow students and academics.

There are currently 130 PhD/MD students at BCI, consisting of both scientists and clinicians, working on a range of different cancer research projects across BCI’s six Research Centres. A small group of these students make up the BCI PhD Forum and organise events and workshops with the aim of improving the overall PhD experience.

BCI PhD Forum President, Kaliya Georgieva, said:

"The BCI PhD Forum is happy to say that this year's PhD Day was a great success! Students at different stages of their PhDs presented their outstanding research and many PIs and post docs also took an active part in the event, for which we are very grateful.”

This year’s PhD Day started with an introduction from BCI’s Director of Graduate Studies for Research, Dr Sarah Martin, in which she shared advice and resources on how students can get the most out of the time on their PhDs. After a welcome from the PhD Forum President, session one of the day kicked off with 10-minute scientific presentations from six of our final-year PhD students.

A selection of photos of final year PhD students presenting 10-minute presentions. Students are standing at the front of a lecture theatre with their presenatations slides displayed on a big screen.
10-minute presentations from final year PhD students. Top row (left to right): Henry Gerdes – “Rationalizing responses to Aurora B inhibitors in Leukaemia”; Samantha George – “Macrophages and amoeboid cancer cells: a dangerous liaison”; Michael Austin – “Driving tumour cell ER stress with arginine deprivation shifts CAR-T into top gear” Bottom row (left to right): Robert Hearnden – “Investigating the metabolic regulation of conventional dendritic cells in adipose and non-adipose tissues”; Elena Tomas Bort – “The pancreatic cancer purinome: Unravelling the role of P2Y2 in cancer cell invasion”; Xueke Wang – “The development of diagnostic biomarkers in platelets from prostate cancer patients”


During the lunch break, students and academics were able to visit the 50 posters on display by our PhD students. The poster session provided a valuable opportunity for informal discussion and networking.

The second half of the day began with 3-minute thesis presentations, in which six students were tasked with presenting their research projects in an accessible way with just one slide in 3 minutes. The ability to speak about scientific research in a way that non-scientists can understand is an important skill for researchers to master.

Three members of the Institute’s Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Research Advisory Group attended the session to judge their favourite presentation.

A keynote lecture from Dr Adrienne Morgan

Dr Adrienne Morgan standing at the front of a lecture theatre delivering a presentation.
Dr Adrienne Morgan delivering the Keynote talk at BCI PhD Day.

This year’s Keynote Speaker was Dr Adrienne Morgan, Honorary Senior Lecturer in BCI’s Centre for Tumour Biology.

Dr Morgan spoke about her various roles in academia and industry, including her role as Senior Lecturer at St George’s Hospital Medical School, and Team Leader and Principal Scientist in the Immunology Department at Celltech Therapeutics, as well as her charitable roles.

Since 2009, Dr Morgan has been Chair of the Independent Cancer Patients’ Voice (IPCV) charity - a patient advocate group that brings the views and experiences of cancer patients and their families and carers into the cancer research community.

IPCV believes that clinicians and healthcare professionals should work in partnership with patients to improve clinical research. The charity involves patients in clinical research, including working with clinical/academic units, tissue banks, and reviewing clinical trial and research funding applications. IPCV has been involved in numerous cancer research projects, including TRACERx (TRAcking non-small cell lung Cancer Evolution through Therapy), and provides a forum through which patients can have an effective voice in clinical research.

Congratulations to this year’s award winners

The day closed with the announcement of the award winners. Students, academics and PPI members voted for their favourite poster, 3-minute thesis, and 10-minute presentations.

Congratulations to:

Poster Prize

  • Academic vote: Shayin Gibson - ‘Myoepithelial-matrix interactions during early stage breast cancer progression’
  • Student vote: Foteini Kalampalika - ‘Functional dissection of the bone marrow niches that support leukemic stem cells in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, and their role in chemoresistance’

3MT Prize

  • PPI group vote: Lucy Silcock - ‘A novel genetic system to study tumour heterogeneity and clonal dynamics in gastrointestinal tract cancers’
  • Student vote: Valentine Gauthier - ‘Engineering tumour microenvironments with controlled expression of extracellular matrix proteins’

10-minute presentation Prize

  • Academic vote: Michael Austin - ‘Driving tumour cell ER stress with arginine deprivation shifts CAR-T into top gear’
  • Student vote: Elena Tomas Bort - ‘The pancreatic cancer purinome: Unravelling the role of P2Y2 in cancer cell invasion’

Kaliya added:

“Congratulations to all the winners of the poster and talk prizes! The PhD forum wishes to all students the best of luck in their future endeavours and a great academic year ahead!”

PhD students standing in a row holding up their award certificates.
Award winners pictured with Dr Sarah Martin at BCI PhD Day 2022. From left to right: Foteini Kalampalika, Michael Austin, Lucky Silcock, Dr Sarah Martin, Valentine Gauthier, Elena Tomas Bort and Shayin Gibson.

PhD students standing in two rows in lecture theatre.
BCI PhD Forum with Dr Sarah Martin. Back row, left to right: Lakshmi Rajput, Bethany Hill, Dr Sarah Martin, Kaliya Georgieva. Front row, left to right: Christos Ermogenous, Emilie Alard, Sophie James, Rebecca Drake, Alice Lord.

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