On Wednesday the 9th of December at 11am an exciting new Marie Sklodowska-Curie (MSCA) COFUND Programme was officially launched by University College Dublin. The new programme, ‘Developing the Next Generation of Research Leaders in Precision Oncology’ (DevelopMed), is coordinated by Systems Biology Ireland (SBI) and will support 12 prestigious Precision Oncology Fellowships. In a joint event, the DevelopMed launch also marked and celebrated the end of the highly successful TOPMed10 MSCA COFUND Programme coordinated by SBI. TopMed supported nine postdoctoral fellows in personalised medicine research projects, who have now moved on to prestigious positions in academia and industry.
The virtual joint DevelopMed and TopMed10 event was hosted by Systems Biology Ireland, with Prof. Cecily Kelleher, College of Health and Agricultural Sciences opening proceedings and together with Prof. Orla Feely, VP for Research, Innovation and Impact at UCD formally launching the new UCD led DevelopMed Programme. At the event, attendees heard from TopMed10 Fellows Dr. Sarinj Fattah, Dr Caoileann Murphy, Dr Dina Danso – Abeam and Dr Husvinee Sundaramurth on their experiences of being involved in the programme. Fellows also presented on the research that they carried out during their time in TopMed10. Prof. David Brayden, Professor, School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin described his experience of hosting a fellow and the benefits being part of an MSCA COFUND programme.
Supporting the initiative Prof. Orla Feely said: “It is great to see the success that has been delivered from TopMed10 in terms of training outstanding researchers. DevelopMed builds strategically on this previously successful programme and offers a wonderful opportunity for fellows. We can expect to see excellent researchers come through this programme and go on to enormously rewarding careers, delivering important impact in the exciting area of precision oncology.”
With increasing life expectancy it is anticipated that cancer will soon become the leading cause of mortality within the European Union. Despite technological advancements in genomics, imaging, computational modelling and artificial intelligence, the cancer research community is faced with a shortage in skilled scientists and clinicians able to deploy these technologies in the fight against cancer. DevelopMed is a game-changing interdisciplinary training programme focused on developing the future world leaders in precision oncology. The prestigious fellowships will facilitate training through research to fully equip fellows with the skills and intersectoral competencies to enhance their career development prospects. Fellows will also partake in 3-6 month secondments at global research-performing organisations in industry, academic, clinical and charity settings. DevelopMed will also interact closely with Precision Oncology Ireland, a Science Foundation Ireland Strategic Partnership Programme with partners in the industry and charity sectors.
Remarking on the new programme, the DevelopMed Programme Coordinator, Prof. Walter Kolch said: “We are thrilled with the opportunity to train the next generation of leaders in precision oncology research. DevelopMed provides a unique opportunity to develop excellent scientists and clinicians and to inspire in them an entrepreneurial, cross-disciplinary problem-solving mindset for tackling cancer.”
The first application call for the DevelopMed MSCA COFUND programme opens 1 January 2021 with a closing date of 31 March 2021.