Posted on 20th June 2019 by Bethan Warman

Barts Cancer Institute PhD Day

Celebrating the achievements of our postgraduate research students

On Tuesday 11th June, Barts Cancer Institiute (BCI), Queen Mary University of London, held their annual PhD Day, which celebrates the work of BCI’s postgraduate research students. There are currently over 100 postgraduate research students enrolled at the BCI, and the PhD Day, organised by the BCI PhD Forum, provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase their work to fellow students and academics through oral and poster presentations.

The day also allows the students to practice for national and international meetings, as well as encouraging them to form their research plans. Speaking of this year's PhD Day, Dr Matthew Mee, Clinical Research Fellow and member of the BCI PhD Forum said:

I thought the PhD Day was useful and informative. It’s great to be able to see the wide range of work being done by other PhD students across the institute in the poster presentations alongside the “almost finished” presentations done by final years. I learnt a lot about structuring my research, presentation and communication skills from watching, along with really interesting aspects of cancer biology and issues that surround cancer in the lay presentations. Inspiring and motivating!

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Lay Communications - a first this year

Members of the CRUK Barts Centre Patient and Public Involvement Research Advisory Group.

For the first time this year, the PhD Day programme contained a Lay Communications session, in which five postgraduate students had 5 minutes each to explain their research in an accessible way. This is an essential skill for researchers to have. The presentations were aimed particularly at representatives from the Cancer Research UK Barts Centre Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Research Advisory Group, who attended the event this year. Following the session, the PPI representatives voted for the best presentation from the session, which was to be announced at the end of the day.

Dr Faiza Gaba, a Clinical Research Fellow in BCI’s Centre for Experimental Cancer Medicine, presented during the Lay Communications Session and said:

Communication of research to lay individuals is vital. A lot of our research is funded by members of the public donating to various research charities. Through lay communications, transparency of clinical research is improved and it helps disseminate results to the individual patients concerned.

The PPI representatives enjoyed attending the Lay Communications Session, and would like to congratulate all of the students who presented. Celia, a member of the PPI Research Advisory Group, said:

I enjoyed the day and it gave me some insight into the research that the students are carrying out, this really helped me to understand how important research is and how it could impact on the care patients will receive in the future.

'Stories of Cancer’

Keynote Guest Speaker, Professor Deborah Bowman

This year’s Keynote Guest Speaker was Deborah Bowman, Professor of Bioethics & Clinical Ethics and Deputy Principal (Institutional Affairs) at St. George's, University of London. Professor Bowman’s academic interests are in the application of ethics to clinical practice, arts and health, emotion in ethical decision-making, moral distress, public involvement in ethical debate, theatre and medicine, and therapeutic relationships between professionals and those they serve. In 2016, Professor Bowman was awarded an MBE for Services to Medical Ethics.

Professor Bowman gave an emotive talk of the ‘Stories of Cancer,’ focusing on the Stories of Disease, Stories of Individuals, Stories of Society and Culture, and Stories of Science and Research. Professor Bowman explained that the narrative of cancer is told in different ways, from the perspective of the patient, the doctor, the scientist, the profession and the country/society. Professor Bowman left the audience with food for thought, prompting them to think about their own narratives as cancer scientists. Many thanks to Professor Bowman for taking the time to speak to us.

Congratulations to this year’s award winners

Following each of the sessions, staff and students voted for their favourite poster and oral presentation. This year, six awards were up for grabs. The winners were:

  • Best Poster (chosen by tutors) - Charlotte Smith
  • Best Poster (chosen by students) - Josephine Carpentier
  • Best Oral Presentation (chosen by tutors) - Helen Hockings, ‘Developing adaptive therapy to suppress the evolution of treatment resistance in high-grade serous ovarian cancer’
  • Best Oral Presentation (chosen by students) - Brynna Hoggard, ‘Understanding the role of Met exon 14 deletion in non-small cell lung cancer’
  • Best Lay Presentation (chosen by PPI representatives) - Marina Roy Luzarraga, ‘The best match: blood vessels have something to say’
  • Best Lay Presentation (chosen by students) - Hemalvi Patani, ‘Cancer cells and naïve embryonic stem cells: two sides of the same coin’

Congratulations to the award winners of this year’s BCI PhD Day and well done to everyone who gave a talk or poster presentation!

BCI PhD Day will be back next summer!

Click here to view the programme from the day.


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