CDT Strategic Advisory Board Meeting
All available members of the CDT Strategic Advisory Board convened for a meeting at UCL on Monday 21st August 2017 to review the centre’s progress and plan ahead.
The day began with a welcome from Prof Sebastien Ourselin who reinforced that the CDT’s core vision is to train the leaders of the future within medical imaging. He emphasised that the course was uniquely inspired by the strong potential of a synergy between engineering and clinical fields and, crucially, the idea that innovative engineering solutions are needed to tackle critically important healthcare challenges. Following this, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) representative Kate Reading gave an overview of EPSRC’s funding of and close engagement with CDT.
Deputy Director of CDT, Dr Gary Zhang, then went over the centre’s training approach with particular attention to the first MRes year, which provides students with the key foundational grounding in medical imaging needed to build their own research. An important strength of the CDT is its emphasis on training and inter-disciplinary collaboration alongside conducting cutting-edge research.
During this section of the meeting key elements of the programme were highlighted, such as the compulsory ‘Journal Club’ in the MRes year which brings the cohort together to critically review seminal papers in biomedical imaging. This helps to provide a base knowledge of papers within the field, provides a chance for students to interact with significant UCL researchers and each other, and develops important soft skills like presentation and peer review. Another important aspect of the course discussed was the opportunity within it to learn to develop research software in taught modules (Research Software Engineering with Python; Research Computing with C++). Then the meeting’s attendees heard from students that had undertaken internships or industry placements during their PhD, such as Mark Graham who spent 3 months working at the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology and came away with a fresh insight into the way that scientific research can inform policy making.
Attendees continued to hear from students about their experiences during case-studies throughout the day. One of the recurring themes was the sense of camaraderie that came from the cohort-based approach of the course; where students received peer support, older cohorts mentored younger ones and a collaborative environment was fostered. The diversity of students’ ideas and different destinations was noticeable; attendees heard from one graduate, Eliza Orasanu, who was now a research scientist working in industry in Hamburg and another, Zach Eaton-Rosen, who remains in academia and has recently been awarded an EPSRC Doctoral Prize for exceptional early-career researchers to work within the Translational Imaging Group (TIG).
Some of the other elements of the CDT highlighted during the meeting were the Summer School options, the annual Away Day, and the marketing and public engagement support given to the students. The day concluded with a strategic discussion of future plans and ideas for moving forward.
We would like to give our thanks to all members of the advisory board and attendees, and particularly to the many CDT students who contributed their time to present their experiences and join in on fruitful discussions.