Earlier this month, the Department of Medicine hosted its annual Rising Scientist Day at Imperial’s Hammersmith Campus. The day offered PhD students the chance to share their research both with their peers, and a more general audience. In addition to poster presentations and networking opportunities, the showcase featured talks from those who had successfully made the transition from PhD to postdoc.
Here, Drs Myrsini Kaforou, Alex Thompson and Claire Byrne recount their experiences of becoming fully-fledged early career researchers for the Imperial Medicine Blog, and share their best advice for prospective postdocs.
Myrsini Kaforou – Senior Research Fellow in Bioinformatics
I guess my journey might be quite different to that of the typical PhD student in the Department of Medicine. I started my studies in electrical and computer engineering, completed an internship at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, and then moved to London to complete an MSc course in Bioinformatics and Theoretical Systems Biology at Imperial. I had always wanted to use computational approaches to confront complex problems in biology and medicine. Therefore, I decided to pursue a PhD in Professor Michael Levin’s group in developing novel approaches for analysing large gene expression datasets to identify diagnostic signatures for tuberculosis.
While writing up my thesis, a colleague of mine forwarded me a call for post-doctoral fellowships from the Antimicrobial Resistance Collaboration at Imperial College, which I applied for successfully. My fellowship extended the work of my PhD to the bigger question of the use of host RNA diagnostics to identify bacterial infection to guide antibiotic use and tackle AMR by bridging clinical research and point-of-care assay development. I worked with Dr Pantelis Georgiou and his team in the Department of Bioengineering. At the end of this year-long post, I applied for a few different schemes and was successful in getting the Sir Henry Wellcome fellowship to work on understanding and diagnosing infectious diseases using multi-level omics data. This scheme offers recently qualified postdoctoral researchers the opportunity to start independent research careers.