One Day of the Life as a Researcher: PhD student

You may wonder whether I re-submit the same. the third time? Actually, our team has 3 ongoing PhD students and one starting from October. So, here we are. Three identical titles so far but different journeys. Today, it is Tom’s turn to tell his story.

Three years I ago I decided to try my hand at some cancer research and quit my job as a medical scientist in a diagnostic lab. I am now in my third year of a PhD and I am certain I made the right choice. It was a challenging transition from working in an environment with a lot of automation and standard operating procedures to one where you have to figure out everything for yourself! However, I think that that learning experience has allowed me to adjust quite well to all of the COVID-19 related upheaval. 

Pre-pandemic you could saunter between your office and the lab as often as you pleased, you had a choice of at least four different places to go for coffee on campus and you could squeeze into a packed lift to avoid the stairs to the lab. Now a day in the lab is quite different. We have to book lab space online, social distance from our colleagues, frequent hand washing and wear a mask at all times.

Tom Frawley

These days I plan all my lab work and book lab bench space the week before. On a typical day I split my time between the lab and working from home. I am quite fortunate that my commute is only a 6 minute walk through Stephens Green, which is only 5 minutes longer than the walk from the lab to my old office. 

Working through a pandemic is certainly challenging however I do appreciate my time in the lab much more now and I feel like I am much more productive when access to the lab is limited. 

Thomas Frawley, the IRC-NCRC funded PhD student.

Preclinical models for neuroblastoma: Advances and challenges

What a great start for 2020! Our long-lasting and productive collaboration with our colleagues from Tissue-Engineering Research Group Brough to live an important overview of the preclinical models for neuroblastoma. We particularly focused on the 3D in vitro models available.

During this exercise of searching and reading research papers, we found that researchers in neuroblastoma are looking for alternatives of traditional 2D culture. It is may be slow at the moment but the interest is there.

3D neuroblastoma models worked well in both validating known chemotherapies and screening new. The concepts and materials that were initially developed for bone or tissue regeneration can be used to a miniature model of neuroblastoma.

3D tissue-engineered models can accelerate drug discovery and development, reducing the use of animals in preclinical studies.

Full version is available at

3D Bio-printing: dream or reality?

Here we go. Our first attempt to bio print neuroblastoma cells using Rastrum technology.

A compact pink oven-like device with a user-friendly interface and ‘magical’ disperse of cells and 3D environments. We bioprinted two types of neuroblastoma cells. One-easily forming clusters or tight groups and the other with high individualism in two types of homes: friendly and unfriendly. ‘Friendly’ homes have lots of clues to help cells to attach and grow. ‘Unfriendly’ homes have just a 3D niche aka house without furniture. Let’s see which homes cells like most.