Friday, 17 June 2016

Today's Research is Tomorrow's Medicine: the Importance of the PhD

The charity recently announced a further £1/4 million of funding in grants to Blood Cancer Research projects at Queens University Belfast for this year. This funding will support a 12 month extension for the two research scientists to drive the research project forward and create a new PhD Studentship starting in October 2016.

The charity currently funds two PhD studentships that were awarded as part of the Golden Anniversary grant package in 2014 and the entire committee was eager to create a new post for another budding researchers.  

It is often said that PhD students are the future of research, they manage gruelling hours in the lab, endless analysis and even some teaching all whilst writing a thesis they hope will be worthy of international recognition. Although incredibly rewarding, the position requires a huge amount of commitment, passion and resilience. Currently the demand for PhD studentships much outweighs the number of positions and this pattern continues with Post Doctoral roles, LLNI is attempting to provide some sort of job security in this volatile industry all whilst putting the research first.

PhD student Cliona Johnson is her second year on the Golden anniversary grant. Prior to this Cliona completed a Masters in Research Science with QUB which was also based in the CCRCB (Centre for Cancer Research & Cell Biology) where she worked along with Dr Sandra Irvine, honorary reader, on a Myeloma project.

A strong interest in haematology grew from there and a PhD was the next logical step. Cliona is currently working on a project that focuses on a group of proteins which could be developed as novel therapies for multiple myeloma patients.  To date Cliona has travelled to conferences with the European Haematology Association and the Haematology Association of Ireland where her work has received international recognition.

The work undertaken by Cliona and the other PhD students is integral to the progression of the lifesaving research we fund in Belfast, the recognition by industry peers on an international scale is testament to this.

Unfortunately Cliona’s post will finish next summer; from there she like many will have to decide whether to continue her studies with a Post Doctoral position or to look for opportunities elsewhere in the research industry.

Thankfully the charity has secured a new aspiring scientist to join the team in October; this has only been possible thanks to the ongoing constant support of the public. We aim to raise £500,000 a year to meet our current research commitments so all donations really do make a difference.

If you would like to know more about the projects and positions that LLNI fund, please do not hesitate to get in touch.