Student development and networking
An induction event takes place at the start of year 1 to introduce the students to each other, attended by supervisors and the management team, thereby encouraging networking across the partnership. The day incorporates gateway sessions on bioinformatics to introduce students to dealing with quantitative data and imaging and image analysis to highlight the range and applications of the imaging technologies that can be accessed for training.
There are two further cohort days in year 1: a Bench to Bedside event, introducing students to the principles of experimental design and ensuring scientific reliability (including in in vivo studies), and providing an overview of the process of translating basic science discoveries into therapies; and a Path to Personalised Medicine event introducing students to stratified medicine, health economics and decision modelling, and incorporating a “Dragon’s Den” type activity, where students work in teams to pitch their ideas to our pharma contacts.
Training will also be provided in commercialisation and enterprise with the aim of entering teams in the BioYES competition (winners: Leeds, 2014, Liverpool 2013; runners-up: Newcastle 2008 and 2010; Liverpool 2011) the following year.
Year 2 & 3
In year 2, a Meet the Editors event that incorporates ethical issues relating to publication, data integrity and reproducibility will prepare students for publishing their work and writing their theses, and at our Media and Impact event, students will learn the importance of being able to communicate their research to a wider audience and how to plan and evaluate its impact.
Media training is also provided, and students are encouraged to participate in the Vitae 3MT (People’s prize winner: Newcastle 2014) competition at the beginning of year 3. Students participate in the 2 day residential Sheffield University GRAD School in year 2 or 3, which emphasises employability skills, personal effectiveness to achieve progress and preparation for careers both within and outside academia.
In year 3, students also attend a writing retreat. Finally, when our first cohort is in their third year we will hold annual MRC Mission Days where all year 3 DTP students will present their research. All DTP students and their supervisors will be expected to attend, and a member of the MRC Skills Development Panel will be invited to join a panel of judges, who will award prizes for the most outstanding presentations.
Although core training days are important to bring the cohort together, to build a genuine cohort of researchers conversant in the language of interdisciplinary research will require involvement in activities beyond the ‘training room’. To encourage year-long interaction between students and academics from across the partnership, we have a web-based interdisciplinary journal club where experts introduce students to important concepts and facilitate discussion of subjects across a broad disciplinary perspective.
In addition to the above mandatory activities, DTP students are encouraged to use social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) to share ideas and develop professional networks. They are also encouraged to participate in events that foster a spirit of community across the cohort, e.g. participation in the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) note competition, introducing them to science policy. All students also have an opportunity to visit the facilities available at our associate partners, RCaH and MGU.