MELGEN training in Leeds – version 2.0

As part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Training Network, MELGEN fellows participate in seminars and workshops which boost up their scientific skills! Last May, we attended intense training activities at the gorgeous city of Camogli in Italy. MELGEN training was carried out in July in our coordinating place, Leeds, same as last year! The week was filled up with useful academic as well as social events. The training was hosted at the Cancer Genetics Building of St James’s University Hospital in Leeds.


Academic training

Our partners from Digitronix led an interactive workshop to learn how to benefit from social networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn to successfully promote our research. Publishing our scientific background is not only beneficial for the community but also for our future career prospects.

Similarly, Dr.Ged Hall has given workshops to divulge efficiently our research. As a general aim, the poster workshop was about learning how to grab the audience’s attention by choosing eye-catching titles and having a concise flow of ideas. Moreover, PowerPoint tools are always helpful in our scientific career once we use them on a daily basis. Dr. Hall also gave a highly interactive workshop about tips and tricks in using Microsoft Word to build up the Master Document of our thesis. Once we are all mid-way to finishing our PhDs(!!) this workshop could possibly prevent some ‘freak out’ moments in the near future.

An additional aspect of MELGEN training was how to effectively improve scientific writing skills and thesis planning. Our project manager, Dr Juliette Randerson-Moor (our dear “Jules”) led a practical seminar about useful tips in scientific writing. The best part of the session was when we, the ESRs, provided feedback on a scientific paper Juliette published a couple of years ago! Knowing how to effectively write scientific papers and criticize them is remarkably important as part of our training.

Finally, Dr. Helen Morley gave a seminar about Ownership, Confidentiality and Secrecy in Research. It was composed of a general discussion in groups about ownership and confidentiality of data. This is strikingly important in our research as we are dealing with patient/medical information.


The Biomarker day

The audience, including fellows, had the opportunity to attend an exciting workshop about biomarkers organized by Prof. Julia Newton Bishop. The general scope of the workshop was to emphasize the importance of finding novel predictive and prognostic biomarkers in melanoma. Some of our MELGEN colleagues presented part of their PhD projects involving biomarker discovery. Rohit Thakur, based at the University of Leeds, presented his data about discovering prognostic biomarkers using primary melanoma transcriptomics. Sabrina Schindler, based at the University of Zurich, showed her latest discoveries on immune checkpoint inhibitors. Throughout the day, we learned about statistical considerations in biomarker research and the expectations from the patients. Ethical implications and the economic perspective behind biomarker development were also vital points of discussion.



Social activities

Not only we experienced a week full of highly stimulating seminars and workshops, we also enjoyed some great social events during the MELGEN training.

Profs Julia and Tim Bishop invited the ESRs to their house, for a lovely dinner, just like last year. We tasted absolutely delicious dishes! No one ever forgets those! Similarly, our colleague Sathya Muraldihar invited everyone for a housewarming party at her new place where she generously cooked for all ESRs!

Moreover, we had a wonderful escape back to nature for a memorable evening walk session at Yorkshire Dales National Park luckily with a sunny weather by visiting Brimham Rocks. We had a great time climbing rocks strangely-shaped by erosion and remembering our childhood experiences in a full-of-green, peaceful environment. The official dinner for MELGEN students took place at Harefield Hall, an elegant restaurant in the Park with exceptional food.


We all look forward to our next training in Leeds, and to see our fellow colleagues again!

Written by Catarina Salgado ESR08 and Eirini Christodoulou ESR02