Goodbye, 2022! Hello, 2023!

Looking back at my and my team’s journey in 2022, I see many junctions, traffic lights, stops and slides. Some of them raised us up, and others disappointed. We had to make decisions at the junctions and to reflect and revise the actions at the traffic lights and stops. Being patient is a gold skill. The good mix of everything kept us awake.

There were surprises on the way! Winning a research grant is not only hard work and sleepless nights, but it is also luck. Luck. Hard Luck. The funding pot is extremely small for too many high-scored innovative proposals.

My first 2022 win scored 99/100 and gave me an exciting opportunity to collaborate meaningfully with Prof Helen McCarthy, QUB. This was the highest ever score for my multiple applications over the years. So, this outcome also charged my sole and moulded my determination to do well that year.

However, my grant luck parked there until the end of 2022. Most applications missed the funding threshold by the 0.1 – 0.5 mark. So, another application complementary to the winning one landed on the reserve list… Needless to say, how I or any other researcher, feels seeing it.

A few weeks before Christmas, a positive emotional tsunami happened. I opened an email stating that the reserved proposal had received funding. Almost 10 months and 10 applications between two successful ones. Is not it hard luck?

However, it is not the number of grants received that matters; it is who is around you. My team has curiosity-driven students with big hearts who made this journey fascinating and special.

Goodbye, 2022!!!

So, how has 2023 started for me? Another surprise waited for me in the sealed envelope from the RCSI Vice Chancellor and CEO, Prof Kelly, after my return from holidays. I was nominated for the Positive Leader Award 2022 by my anonymous peers. This Nomination emotionally touched me and mattered more than if I had won this award. I am grateful to the people I work with.

Thank you to everyone who shared the 2022 journey with me!

Goodbye 2022, and Hello 2023!

A warm welcome to our new PhD students!

A warm welcome to our new PhD students Ronja and Erin! Both received the prestigious Irish Research Council – Enterprise Partnership Scheme Award. Indeed, I am a proud PI. This competitive scheme brings the most promising researchers to advance our knowledge across many disciplines, e.g. Law, Astronomy, Sociology, Biomedical Sciences and many more. A key element of this scheme is to work together with an Enterprise Partner.

We will work closely with the Conor Foley Neuroblastoma Cancer Research Foundation – a research charity led by the family who lost their child to neuroblastoma. An inspirational example of never giving up.

We will continue to dissect neuroblastoma biology using innovative platforms such as tumour-on-chip and 3D scaffold-based models in collaboration with our colleagues in the Tissue Engineering Research Group at RCSI and the Fraunhofer Project Centre at DCU.

This announcement is timely to celebrate Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September.

Two talented and dedicated young scientists are joining our team. In 4 years time, we will have another pic of their graduation on the same stairs.

Upwards and onwards!!