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Griet - recently completed an MRC Career Development Fellowship
I was on a 3 year post which was great because I was only planning to come to the UK for a few years anyway. The idea is that people who take the post come from another research environment and that in a few years get the research experience and training in transferable skills, such as presentation skills and writing grants. There are also lots of opportunities to go to conferences and present your work.
I was a postdoctoral scientist working in the lab and my role was to perform research and report on my results. It was also to help other people in the lab optimise new techniques.
In the lab we study prostate development and prostate cancer. In Belgium I trained as a molecular biologist, which c a me in very handy to perform all these experiments.
I did my PhD in Belgium on the role of cell adhesion molecules during tumour progression. I wanted to go abroad for my postdoc and it was by chance I found a vacancy through the internet. From what I'd heard from others working in an MRC Unit the funding was good and I also really liked the proposed project.
In the Unit there is a lot of interaction and discussion between the scientists through meetings and journal clubs. On top of that there are frequent social events like cheese and wine nights to get to know each other better and chat about things other than just science. So there's a good atmosphere and a good sense of community.
A typical day is hard to say because what I like about being a scientist is that each day is different. One day you might do experiments in the lab and another it will be analysing your data. It also involves a lot of discussion with other labs and we frequently have meetings, Journal clubs and seminars. It is very varied and it is difficult to plan ahead as a lot depends on how experiments work out.
I very much enjoyed it. I had loads of opportunities to do the research without being held back because of lack of funding. I learnt a lot of new techniques using the latest technology. Also I learnt to be more critical about science and this is thanks to my group leader who likes discussing science and makes me think more about how to perform experiments properly.
This Career Development Fellowship was very good for my career as I now have an excellent position in a Belgian Biotech Company. To put on your CV that you've worked in an MRC lab and taken lots of courses is a good reference to have and certainly helps."