What is DevelopMed?
DevelopMed, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND Action, is a new International Training and Career Development Fellowship Programme coordinated by Systems Biology Ireland in University College Dublin. The Programme offers 12 prestigious Precision Oncology Fellowships to experienced researchers at the early stage of their career, who will be based in Universities throughout Ireland. All Fellowships are based in one of four Irish universities: University College Dublin (UCD), National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG), the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences (RCSI), and University College Cork (UCC). The aim of DevelopMed is to develop the next generation of skilled researchers who will gain hands-on experience developing cross-disciplinary and entrepreneurial skills through individual research projects with a mandatory 3-6 month secondment at an accredited research organisation (academic, industrial, clinical and/or charity sectors) during their fellowship.
DevelopMed has numerous proposed impacts including the enhancing the potential and future career perspectives of researchers and strengthening research human resources on a regional, national and international level.
DevelopMed, which entails an EU investment of €1.32 million, builds on a previous MSCA COFUND programme coordinated by SBI, ‘TopMed10’. This supported nine postdoctoral fellows in personalised medicine research projects, who have now moved on to prestigious positions in academia and industry. DevelopMed will also interact closely with Precision Oncology Ireland, a Science Foundation Ireland Strategic Partnership Programme with partners in the industry and charity sectors.
DevelopMed aims to serve as a blueprint for what biomedical training can look like in the future and will support the development of high calibre research fellows who are at an early stage of their careers. Fellows will be conducting research in Precision Oncology within the themes of Diagnostics, Drug Development and the Tumour Microenvironment.
The DevelopMed flyer contains an overview of the Programme and can be downloaded here: DevelopMed Programme Flyer
What is Precision Oncology?
Widely considered as the future of cancer research and oncology diagnostics and treatments, Precision Oncology is an approach to medical practice in the field of oncology which the individual aspects of a patient are directly considered to guide treatment planning, including his or her genetic make-up, key biomarkers, prior treatment history, environmental factors and behavioural preferences. This enables the development of personalised treatments and therapies for cancer as opposed to a ‘one size fits all’, trial and error approach.
Precision Oncology is now coming into reach because of advances in high throughput –omics technologies and emerging disciplines such as computational modelling, molecular bioinformatics, biostatics, statistical genetics and clinical informatics.
Recent figures from 2018 show that Europe bears 25% of the global cancer burden despite encompassing only 9% of the world population. With increasing life expectancy it is anticipated that cancer will soon become the leading cause of mortality within the European Union. Technological advancements in genomics, imaging, computational modelling and artificial intelligence provide a powerful toolkit for cancer researchers. However, the cancer research community is faced with a shortage in skilled scientists and clinicians able to deploy these technologies in the fight against cancer. A new generation of scientists and clinicians with interdisciplinary expertise is now required to harness these technologies and disciplines to produce tangible benefits for cancer patients, practitioners and society in general.
The Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA)
Named after the double Nobel Prize winning Polish-French scientist famed for her work on radioactivity, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) support researchers at all stages of their careers, irrespective of nationality. Researchers working across all disciplines, from life-saving healthcare to 'blue-sky' science, are eligible for funding. The MSCA also support industrial doctorates, combining academic research study with work in companies, and other innovative training that enhances employability and career development.
In addition to generous research funding, scientists have the opportunity to gain experience abroad and in the private sector, and to complete their training with competences or disciplines useful for their careers. Internationally respected in industry and academia, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship is a recognised mark of research excellence.