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Four PhD students begin placements at Rosalind Franklin Laboratory

Over the summer, four of our PhD students began their three-month placements at the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory (the ‘Megalab’ in Leamington Spa), as part of its new pilot scheme to support the prestigious Midlands Integrative Bioscience Training Partnership (MIBTP).

Left to right: PhD students Nestoras Kargios, Michaël Tadesse, Site Director Rob Howes, PhD students Aamena Patel and David Edwards

MIBTP is a Doctoral Training Partnership between the five universities of Aston, Birmingham, Harper Adams, Leicester and Warwick. The MIBTP has an ambitious vision to deliver innovative, world class research across the Life Sciences to boost the growing Bioeconomy in the Midlands and across the UK.

The Rosalind Franklin Laboratory processes thousands of COVID-19 tests a day and, once genomic sequencing has been rolled out, will play an indispensable role in responding to new variants of concern. If the laboratory’s PhD pilot is successful, it will be offered to all five universities in the MIBTP.

PhD placement student Michaël Tadesse explains why he joined the scheme:

“Having previously worked in a microbiology diagnostics lab in a hospital setting, I was interested in how PCR diagnostics could be scaled up. Another reason is that I might want to pursue a clinical or NHS career after my PhD, including the possibility of working at this laboratory.”

Fellow placement students Aamena Patel and David Edwards have been busy collaborating on several projects in the Data Science Team. Aamena said:

“I’m interested to see what a data science role in industry would involve and this is a great opportunity, as I know my work will have a positive impact. It sometimes feels like I’ve dived into the deep end but I’m enjoying the challenge so far.”

David adds:

“I was interested in doing a placement at the lab because of the opportunity to develop my skills and analysing data types that I have never dealt with before, while directly helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I also hope to gain experience outside an academic research environment in roles relevant to my future career aspirations.”

Rob Howes, Site Director for the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory, is delighted to welcome them all on board. He said:

“This is a great programme that enables students to extend their professional development whilst the laboratory benefits from their motivation and skills as short-term Scientists. The programme also aims to nurture talent for the long-term and we look forward to welcoming back participants after completing their PhDs.”

Professor Mike Shipman, Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Warwick, said:

"It’s fantastic to see our students taking part in this pilot scheme at the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory. The University has been thrilled to be asked to be involved with the laboratory and as one of the UK’s leading research led universities, we’re pleased at the value our students have been able to add to the laboratory during their placement."

Renata Sims, Laboratories Workforce Lead for NHS Test and Trace, adds:

“Our partnership with the University of Warwick is extremely valuable, and we hope this pilot will result in many more undergraduate and postgraduate students joining the laboratory in the months to come.”