Fri 10 Nov 17
Postgraduate researcher Ryan Blake, who was inspired by the experiences of his family to study the genetics of cancer at Essex, has completed a three-month placement at Cancer Research UK in Cambridge.
This experience was “invaluable” according to Ryan, who started the work-based placement as part of his Masters in cancer biology at Essex.
Ryan is passionate about his subject. “I’m interested in the genetic component of cancer and what causes certain predispositions towards it,” he said. “Cancer is prevalent in my family with my mother having breast cancer when I was young.”
He used a research project he undertook at CRUK as a basis for his final dissertation looking at the role of molecules involved in breast cancer development and how they can be used as targets for drugs.
So what did Ryan gain from the placement? “I felt like I could best experience what it is like as a cancer researcher by being in that environment and seeing the work and effort that goes into research that often times gets over looked,” he said.
“Learning the different practical skills is exciting and the opportunity to learn from so many different people that have vast amounts of knowledge and first-hand experience in research was invaluable.
“A work placement is a fantastic opportunity to learn and create connections if you wish to get into research. It is an excellent chance for someone who can self-motivate to learn and conduct research.”
The MSc Cancer Biology course at Essex was introduced just last year and Ryan chose it because it was the “best course” for what he wanted to do.
“The new course at Essex is perfect for teaching you the necessary skills to pursue a career in research,” he said. He most enjoyed the modules where he was able to use his practical skills.
Reflecting on both his time at Essex and Cancer Research UK, Ryan said: “The MSc Cancer Biology course at Essex has made me massively more employable in my field. Before I was unable to even secure interviews for PhD studentships but since completing the course and doing a work-based placement I have had interviews for every position I have applied to so far.”
Looking into the future Ryan hopes to secure a PhD studentship or become a research assistant in cancer research: “My MSc has helped massively with my future career plans as it has given me a direct path to the area of research in which I wish to pursue. Instead of having only cursory knowledge or experience of cancer research it has given me hands-on experience which is invaluable.”