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Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute


Our postgraduate students launched the Institute's first major hybrid meeting – our Annual PhD Symposium 2021.

This entirely student-led event was a very significant one for our Postgraduates as last year's 2020 meeting was cancelled due to the global pandemic. In 2020, not only were the students unable to attend their yearly meet-up, but some were unable to meet throughout their degree courses due to Covid restrictions. This year's symposium finally gave our students the long-awaited opportunity to meet in person and talk about each other’s projects.

The ablility to network and form potential collaborations is essential for our students. Meeting others to discuss research allows the group to expand their knowledge on different subject areas, formulate questions, and understand the progress of other students' research, how far along they are in their findings and what they have discovered so far.

The symposium was held over two days, featuring 15 in-person and remote talks from final-year PhD students, more than 35 research posters from first to third year PhD Students, as well as a keynote talk from Professor Elaine Fuchs, Rockefeller University, US.

The event was generously sponsored by Merck LifeSciences, AstraZeneca, Qkine, STEMCELL Technologies, Miltenyi Biotec, BMG LabTech, Mogrify and Peprotech, most of which sent their delegates to attend with a stall or a short presentation, providing further opportunity for networking.


A total of 264 members attended the event with approximately one quarter of the attendees in the lecture theatre and the remaining members participating virtually.

The first day was rounded up by an evening social with drinks and delicious Japanese and Spanish street food, provided by local food vans Oreno and Azahar, while Friday ended with a catered lunch followed by the second poster session and announcement of the award winners.

The winners included: Yasmin Kamen (Karadottir Group) and Paula Jimenez-Gomez (Alcolea Group) who were jointly awarded the prize for best talk. Prizes for best poster presentations went to Annabelle Wurmser (Basu Group), Ross McGinn (Franze Group) and Vasileios Galanakis (Vallier Group).

Pictured left to right Paula Jimenez-Gomez and Ross McGinn

We caught up with Maike Steindel, (a second-year PhD student in the Basu Group) who played a key role in making the event a success.

Maike comments:

"Scientific conferences and events have always been a key driver of scientific progress and, hence constitute a pivotal experience in a young researcher’s life/career. They provide a unique opportunity to build a network, to exchange knowledge and ideas, and to keep up with the progress and future directions of the field.

After such a long time of being forced to attend remotely, this event has given us a chance to come together as an Institute and to experience the spirit of such events. To me, it highlighted how much our creativity and scientific progress has had to suffer from the circumstances of the past two years.

I feel very blessed to have been part of this certainly unique edition of this entirely student-led symposium, impressed by the research produced by the students at the CSCI, and proud to be part of this diverse community.

I view this event as an example of the ways that we all have managed to persevere and overcome over the past two years and as a demonstration of how we can harness technology to bring together the international community."


*Photo credits: Mariana Quiroga Londoño and Maike Steindel

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