Early Career Researchers (ECRs) are the future: their fresh thinking and dedication will help us conquer dementia but they cannot do it alone. Support from the institution, supervisor and fellow peers is fundamental to the success of an ECR - whatever career path they choose to take. We want to empower our ECRs and help equip them with the skills to face the many challenges they will encounter along the way – including building their confidence, developing public speaking skills, ensuring that they understand what is required of them for the next stage of their career and how to obtain funding.
At the UK DRI, we back our ECRs to be bold, take risks and fulfil their potential. Just recently, the UK DRI awarded its first round of pilot project awards – a scheme designed to inspire postdocs to consider novel avenues of research aimed at understanding or treating neurodegenerative diseases. The second round is launching after the summer, so stay tuned…We also recently opened a call for small grants for ECRs in the Neuroinflammation theme to support collaborative meetings/sandpits, and travel to conferences – we plan to launch similar calls for ECRs in other emerging cross-centre themes soon.
We are delighted to see a group of Cardiff researchers have taken the initiative to organise a range of initiatives aimed specifically at ECRs, and appointed representatives as a conduit for feedback and change in their Centre. They have also reached out to the other UK DRI centres to nominate ECR representatives and create a wider UK DRI ECR network to share ideas, discuss common issues, and strengthen the level of interaction across the institute.
The UK DRI ECR network will also have the opportunity to feed into a ‘UK DRI Training and Career Development Committee’, being assembled by HQ, with the aim to devise training initiatives tailored to the needs of UK DRI researchers at all career stages.
Here - Megan, Sarah, Bilal & Georgina tell us about their activities so far, what they hope to achieve in the future and the financial support they are receiving from the UK DRI at Cardiff: