Recent Events

In support of its grant awards, the Trust organises some events to which aim to inform and augment the experiences of those who aspire to, or may be considering, a career in medical research.
The PhD students participate in a structured commercial training programme.

"...hearing about the relationship of academia and industry [was] really valuable"

At an annual Showcase for senior school pupils and their teachers, former Vacation Scholars and others present posters, talk and answer questions the research they carried out.

"Amazing day, really worthwhile, would love to come to another event like this."

The Trustees believe these events are an essential adjunct to the direct funding they provide and are seeking to develop them further in the coming years.

2017 'Meet the Researcher' Showcase in Dundee and Glasgow

Over 150 pupils and their teachers from schools in Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh, Dumfriesshire, Dundee, Fife, Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Perthshire were inspired with a fresh sense of ambition after Dundee and Glasgow Science Centres hosted events highlighting the diverse range of opportunities in medical research on 28 February 2017 and 1 March 2017.

Malaria, osteoporosis, cancer, lung and kidney disease were just some of the areas of pioneering medical research carried out in Scotland highlighted by the ‘2017 Meet the Researcher Showcase’, staged at Dundee Science Centre for the second time and, for the first time, at Glasgow Science Centre.

The event was the latest in the ‘Meet the Researcher Showcase’ series, delivered by Medical Research Scotland, with the aim of informing and enthusing senior school pupils about medical research and the wide range of careers open to them.

Diverse career opportunities

Over the two events, pupils and teachers enjoyed careers talks from Professor David Harrison, John Reid Chair of Pathology, University of St Andrews; Dr Morag McFarlane, CEO Tissue Solutions Ltd; Dr Chris Carter, Senior Lecturer, University of Strathclyde; and Dr Lynsey Howard, Lead Scientist, Lamellar Biomedical Ltd.

Photo: Professor David Harrison inspiring pupils about the opportunities in medical research “Careers in medical research are very different now compared to how they used to be,” explained Professor Harrison...But there are so many jobs and new disciplines coming into play that really the opportunities are boundless...It doesn't matter what you first degree is - mathematics, science, biology, medicine - all of these are incredibly necessary for medical research today."
“Almost irrespective of what subject you do there's probably a place for you in medical research.”

A different route to an industry career

There is a refreshing feel to medical research today, exemplified by Dr Lynsey Howard in her “From lab book to patient” talk, which explained the varied and interesting route that led her to her current role in the industry sector of biomedical science.

Photo: Dr Lynsey Howard chats with pupils “For too long we have thought that picking a degree sets your one particular career path, but that's not true,” she said. “There's a lot of flexibility and a lot of opportunity for young people to study biomedical sciences. In a time when we are living longer and will have more complicated health care problems we need new and innovative ideas to make sure we look after our population as a whole and Medical Research Scotland helps us support those activities."
“I’d like students to be positive and optimistic about a career in biosciences and biomedical sciences and know that they don’t have to go the traditional route to access those careers.”

Meet the researcher

The event also demonstrated Medical Research Scotland’s commitment to supporting the scientists it funds, who are at the earliest stages of establishing their careers, and promoting collaborative work between academia and industry.

Pupils had the opportunity to meet a group of 21 Medical Research Scotland-funded undergraduate and postgraduate researchers and their supervisors from universities across Scotland and find out more about their fascinating work.

The research topics on show ranged from how exercise affects the body clock, whether deep sea bacteria can fight cancer and the potential of fatty acids as a treatment for spinal cord injury.

Photo: 3rd year PhD studen, Faidon Kyriakou discussing his research with pupils “Science for me is the dream job,” said Faidon Kyriakou, 3rd year Medical Research Scotland PhD Student, University of Strathclyde.
“Science is about exploring the unknown, pushing the limits and opening new horizons. And especially in medicine, you really get the feeling you can have an impact rather than doing something theoretical and you do help lives...My message to these young students is to pursue what feels right to them. You can always, through the course of your career, find out new possibilities and you have to be available and be there to grasp the moment. Carpe Diem - go for it.”

The right messages get back to schools

If proof is needed that these Showcase events succeed, then look no further than Perthshire’s Breadalbane Academy who, having attended the ‘Meet the Researcher Showcase’ at Dundee Science Centre a year ago, returned to the 2017 event with three times the number of students.

“I thought last year was a great opportunity so I put it out to pupils this year and got 12 pupils,” said science teacher, Lorna Librelli.

“I'm now starting to see that this is not just for biologists, which I assumed it was last year, and I'm now getting more chemists and physicists involved.

“I've also brought a pupil today who is into physics and engineering and she's finding out a lot about where those backgrounds will take her in medical research.”

Photo: Pupils creating models of viruses As well as speaking to the Medical Research Scotland-funded scientists, pupils also engaged with exhibitors who used innovative and fun ways to relay research on parasites, viruses, cancer, dementia and endoscopes from the Universities of Dundee, Glasgow and Strathclyde, the University of Aberdeen’s Marine Biodiscovery Centre, the Institute for Medical Science and Technology (IMSaT), the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute and TC BioPharm Ltd.

A positive outlook for today’s students

Medical Research Scotland is already planning its ‘2018 Meet the Researcher Showcase’ series and with the growing opportunities in the field, the future is bright for students planning to study in Scotland.

Photo:Professor Philip Winn talks to the pupils “At the moment there are just so many opportunities in medical research, particularly in Scotland,” said Professor Philip Winn. “The one thing I'd like people to take away from today is that biomedical research isn't restricted to one discipline but encompasses a multitude of disciplines from engineering, chemistry, physics, mathematics, information sciences through to social sciences.
"All of these come together to push biomedical research forward and there is so much to do and so many opportunities to do it that this is just a terrific moment to get engaged with it.”

Positive Feedback from Attendees

Pupils, teachers, Professor Philip Winn (Chairman of Medical Research Scotland), Professor David Harrison and Dr Lynsey Howard share their thougts of the event and the prospects for careers in medical research in the videos below. Background sound illustrates the hive of activity!
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Schools represented at the 2017 Showcase events were: Westhill Academy, Aberdeenshire; Morgan Academy, Dundee; Auchmuty High School, Glenrothes, Fife; The Waid Academy, Anstruther, Fife; Breadalbane Academy, Aberfeldy, Perthshire; St John's Academy, Perth; Strathallan School, Perth; Wallace Hall Academy, Dumfriesshire; George Watson's College, Edinburgh; Craigholme School, Glasgow; Glasgow Gaelic School, Glasgow; Kilsyth Academy, Glasgow; Kirkintilloch High School, Glasgow; St Aloysious College, Glasgow; Airdrie Academy, North Lanarkshire; Cardinal Newman High School, North Lanarkshire; Clyde Valley High School, North Lanarkshire; Lanark Grammar School, South Lanarkshire.

The posters can all be downloaded in pdf by selecting from the list below.

Report and images by Rob Eyton-Jones

PhD Commercial Training Event 2017

With the cohort of Medical Research Scotland PhD students now numbering 41, the 2017 two day Commercial Training event took place, for the second year, in Perthshire. As in previous years, the event was educational as well as a networking and social occasion for the students. Informative and engaging talks were delivered by guest external speakers on the use and provision of human tissue in research (Dr Morag McFarlane, CEO of Tissue Solutions Ltd), market-driven evolution of a life science company (Dr Stewart White, CSO of Collagen Solutions plc) and the growth of big data in the pharmaceutical industry (Dr Sarah Lynagh, CEO of Fios Genomics Ltd). Our thanks to them all.

The event provided an opportunity for the students to find out about the research projects their colleagues were undertaking by way of high quality talks, given by the first and fourth year students, and posters presented by the second year students and ideas for career development activities were shared by the third year students.

The students’ puzzle solving abilities were also challenged in a fun team building exercise before an evening of dinner and socialising.

PhD Commercial Training Event 2016

Over a glorious couple of spring days in March 2016, the cohort of over thirty Medical Research Scotland PhD students gathered in Perthshire for the fourth annual Commercial Training Event. The st udents enjoyed hearing talks about the legalities and practicalities of setting up a new business (Mr George Peto, Director and Corporate Lawyer of Rooney Nimmo), opportunities for careers in medical research and the lifesciences industry in Scotland (Professor Andrew Morris, Chief Scientist for Scotland and Mr Scott Johnstone, CEO of the Scottish Lifesciences Association and Vice Chairman of Medical Research Scotland) and what it is like working in a small lifesciences company (Dr Lynsey Howard, Lead Scientist of Lamellar Biomedical Ltd).

The remainder of the two day event comprised a busy programme of talks from the first and fourth year students about their research, second year student poster presentation sessions and hearing about career development activities which the third year students had been involved in out-with their research.

The 2016 PhD Students

Students and Medical Research Scotland representatives at the 2016 Commercial Training Event.

As a break from two days of science, the students had a great time getting to know each other and working together on team challenges and quizzes, with the winners celebrating over their prize of champagne, as well as socialising over dinner.

This was the final Commercial Training Event for the first intake of Medical Research Scotland PhD students and it was rewarding to see the outcome of their hard work over the past years. All at the event wished them every success in their future.

PhD Student voted 'People’s Choice' winner of 3MT Competition

Matthew Simmonte, a third year Medical Research Scotland PhD Student, studying at the University of Edinburgh, made it through to the final of the University of Edinburgh’s 3MT (3 Minute Thesis) Competition - to deliver the best research presentation in just 3 minutes and one slide. While he did not win the competition he was the 'People’s Choice' winner out of the 9 University of Edinburgh student finalists. Many congratulations to Matthew for an excellent delivery of his presentation ‘Finding a match - polymer microarrays and internet dating’. The finalists’ presentations can be viewed at the University of Edinburgh's Youtube account, including that of the winner of the completion, Chen Zhao, who will go on to represent the University of Edinburgh in the UK ad Universitas 21 competition.

PhD Commercial Training Day 2015

The third annual Commercial Training Event, attended by the current PhD students on the four year Medical Research Scotland PhD Studentship scheme took place on Tuesday 28th April at Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences (SIPBS), University of Strathclyde. The day began with four informative and well received talks from guest speakers on Intellectual Property Rights (Ms Ishbel MacPherson, Associate from DLA Piper’s Scottish Intellectual Property and Technology Practice), on how to fund a business (Mr John Waddell, CEO of Archangel Investors Limited), on working with the NHS in clinical development (Dr Alec McLean, CEO of Lamellar Biomedical Ltd) and the Inveresk Research Story (Professor Walter Nimmo, Medical Research Scotland Trustee.

During the lunch and the tea breaks the second year students had the opportunity to discuss the scientific posters they had prepared for the Event and the third year students shared examples of activities in which they have been involved, out with their research projects, which they have found beneficial for their personal and career development (including organising a symposium; entering the Edinburgh BioQuarter Innovation and Competitions and 3 Minute Thesis competitions; attending a Biotechnology Management Summer School; supervising Masters students; and PR for a student society) - the intention being to encourage students in the earlier years of their Studentships to get involved in similar activities. In the afternoon the first year students gave short presentations on their research projects. The Event closed with a social gathering over wine.

The Medical Research Scotland representatives who attended the Event were very impressed by the high standard of the students’ presentations and posters; with the students’ progress; and how the students interacted with one another, making good use of the networking opportunities offered by the day. Feedback from the students and participans was resoundingly positive.

Our sincere thanks go to all the guest speakers and SIPBS for the use of the venue.

'Meet the Researcher' Showcase in Aberdeenshire

The 2014 Meet the Researcher Showcase for senior school pupils took place at Portlethen Academy near Aberdeen, on Thursday, 2nd October and all the 11 posters were presented by students & graduates of Aberdeen University. At previous such events, the posters represented work carried out in universities across Scotland. [Read about the 2013 Showcase in Dundee, 2012 Showcase in Edinburgh and the 2010 Showcase in Glasgow.]

The posters were presented by nine current or recent undergraduates who had received Vacation Scholarships and the other two by PhD students, also funded by Medical Research Scotland. Two of the posters were accompanied by 'hands-on' demonstrations, which further engaged those visiting.

Visitors at the Showcase

Some of the young visitors at the Showcase. [Photo: Dale Chapman, Portlethen Academy]

The 65 pupils and five teachers from nine of the invited schools from Aberdeen City and Shire who took part all reported favourably on the Showcase. In addition to the posters, those attending had heard short talks from two speakers about their own career paths These gave the pupils snapshots of life in the biomedical devices industry as well as within academia, demonstrating some of the many career options available to young people considering studying the sciences beyond school.

Everyone enjoying a joke

Pupils and a teacher enjoy a joke with poster-presenter Aidan Seeley. [Photo: Dale Chapman, Portlethen Academy]

Curriculum for Excellence and Science Development Officers from the two Education Authorities also attended for part of the event, taking the opportunity to view the posters, talking to the students, their supervisors, the speakers and Trustees present. Again, favourable feedback was received from them.

Photo:Armin Oskooi explains aspects of his research project

Armin Oskooi explains aspects of his research project. [Photo: Dale Chapman, Portlethen Academy]

The Showcase not only gives the pupils the chance to engage directly with young scientists, it also lets those scientists rise to the challenge of explaining their research in an entertaining way, to interested people only a little younger than themselves, but lacking any specialist knowledge. The aim of the event is to further the development of those whom we support, as well as encouraging the next generation of medical researchers.

Photo: Konstantin Gizdov talked about his work

Physics student Konstantin Gizdov talked about his work. [Photo: Dale Chapman, Portlethen Academy]

The posters can all be downloaded in pdf by selecting from the list below.

The Showcase not only helped to raise awareness of Medical Research Scotland and the work it does, but also demonstrated its commitment to supporting young scientists and also encouraging the next generation of researchers.

[Read about the 2013 Showcase in Dundee, 2012 Showcase in Edinburgh and the 2010 Showcase in Glasgow.]

60th Anniversary Event

In 2014 Medical Research Scotland celebrated its 60th anniversary since the charity was constituted as the Scottish Hospital Endowment Research Trust (SHERT). To mark the occasion, a reception was held on 3 September, in conjunction with Scottish Lifesciences Association, to highlight the recent and innovative set up of three-way collaborations between business, universities and Medical Research Scotland. Current collaborators who have been awarded PhD Studentships and representatives from Higher Education, Industry and the Government attended. The event provided an opportunity for networking for Scottish biomendical research and development, as well as enabling current Medical Research Scotland PhD students to present |posters about their research and demonstrate how the PhD Studentship ventures are currently working. Medical Research Scotland would like to thank Martin Currie Investment Management Ltd for sponsoring the event.

PhD Commercial Training Day 2014

On Friday 14th March the Medical Research Scotland PhD students who are in the first and the second years of their four-year Studentships attended the second Commercial Training Event delivered by the Trust. The day began with an inspiring talk from Mr Hugh Griffith, CEO of NuCana BioMed Ltd, on building biotechnologies companies in Scotland. In this, he shared a wealth of experience using case studies of Bioenvision, ExidoMed, MedAnnex and OncoBioPharm and Mr Scott Johnstone (Medical Research Scotland Trustee) then talked to the students about business plans. The afternoon incorporated short presentations from the first-year students on their research projects and the opportunity to view and ask questions about the second-year students’ posters, which they had prepared to illustrate their research findings.
The representatives of Medical Research Scotland who attended the event were full of praise for the students, commending the content and delivery of their presentations and posters, and the students seemed to have found the day a valuable and enjoyable experience.
Medical Research Scotland is grateful to the Scottish Lifesciences Association for kindly providing the venue for the day-long event, which concluded with a social gathering over wine.

Read a short summary about the 2013 Commercial Training Day.