The number and breadth of Masters postgraduate degree topics on offer across the university sector, including MRes and MSc programmes with a lengthy research component, are an indication of the wish to increase the scope of student research training beyond that available at undergraduate level. In particular, to offer opportunities for gaining experience of practical and transferrable skills relevant to scientific, clinical and biotechnology research careers.
Supporting through collaboration
A recurring consideration is how best to support these training needs with the increasingly multidisciplinary, and fast-moving, nature of biomedical research? This question spurred the establishment of a pilot link-up between the Cardiovascular Research Centre and Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle University and the Centre for Experimental Medicine (CEM) at Queen's University Belfast (QUB).
In the academic year 2017-2018, four Newcastle students - studying for a MRes in Cardiovascular Science in Health and Disease or MRes in Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine - undertook their research projects with co-supervision by staff at QUB.
Broadening and strengthening the research
The students spent one week immersed in the CEM laboratories to get first-hand experience of the approaches used by the partner supervisors. Funds supporting the exchange were provided by IGM and CEM. Moreover, the co-supervision/collaborative arrangement fostered exchange of expertise (e.g. experimental protocols involving advanced electron microscopy and image analysis), materials (e.g. transfer of animal model cells and tissues) and data (e.g. single cell sequencing) between the respective laboratories, thereby adding breadth and substance to the research projects. Student feedback was positive with suggestion for the exchange visit(s) to be longer or more frequent.
We hope to build on this pilot arrangement with QUB in future years and cement it as part of our programme offerings. It may also encourage the adoption of other inter-institutional research supervision and exchange arrangements.
For further detail of the pilot scheme please contact Michael Taggart IGM.
The QUB Student-Supervisor Group (Image Above), L-R David Simpson, Tim Curtis, Anna Krasnodembskaya (supervisors), Sarah Mehdi, Alyson Macneil, Nabilla Kusuma, Sarah Sugianto (students).
* The Newcastle Student-Supervisor Group (Image Top Right), Front row students: Sarah Mehdi, Alyson Macneil, Sarah Sugianto, Nabilla Kusuma, Back row supervisors, Annette Meeson, Deb Henderson, Michael Taggart.
published on: 7 September 2018