Since opening in 2007, we have welcomed almost 250 graduate students to the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. Over 70% of our students are from the EU and beyond, creating a truly international programme. Our students have gone on to apply their skills to a wide range of careers including in academia, industry, and the clinic.
“Studying at the CRUK CI was one of the greatest experiences in my career with remarkable support from my supervisors and the Institute. I worked in a very collaborative and friendly environment with very high standards that facilitate high-end and competitive research. The different Core Facilities have been extremely helpful and had a great impact on my studies. Apart from the many exciting techniques that I learned and the advancement of my scientific knowledge, I also gained valuable experience in how to lead a project which was pivotal in my next career steps. The CRUK CI is a really great place to work with wonderful scientists and provides an ideal environment for scientific and personal development. “
“Ask yourself what are your limits? During my time at the CRUK Cambridge Institute (CI) I pushed myself beyond my limits. You’re probably asking yourself why? Why would anyone put in more work than the bare minimum needed to pass? Because a cure for cancer can’t wait for tomorrow. Every second of every day someone dies too early from cancer; the critical importance of basic research and its inevitable translation into novel therapies for patients & cancers of significant unmet need is the foundation of the CRUK Cambridge Institute.
I completed my PhD at the CRUK CI in 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic; only with the unwavering support of Institute staff, Gilbertson Group members, and fellow students was I able to finish my coursework and publish a first author paper in a top tier academic journal. My time at the CI was filled with laughs, failed experiments, and far too many cappuccinos. But most importantly – I learned at the CI how to ask critical questions to identify the gaps in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of pediatric brain tumors and ultimately formulate scientific hypotheses to test these questions.
My time at the CI empowered me to transition into the private sector and into a career in drug discovery; primarily because I wanted to make tangible contributions to the lives of cancer patients by identifying first hand novel therapies. My advice to any new students is such: don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to ask naive questions. The goal of a PhD is to learn and to train yourself to be a better scientist; utilize every opportunity, scientific seminar, and brain around you and take advantage of the vast resources available at the CRUK CI to succeed. You won’t regret this decision to come to the CRUK CI; I haven’t. “
“I thoroughly enjoyed my PhD at the CRUK Cambridge Institute. First of all, the scientific excellence the building hosts made it possible for me to work with and learn from experts in their fields – both practically in the lab as well as theoretically during the fantastic weekly lunchtime seminars. The friendly atmosphere meant that it wasn’t daunting at all for me as a student to ask questions, which definitely boosted my confidence as a researcher. This relaxed and personal atmosphere also made the institute a place where I enjoyed spending my time and where I made some lifelong friends. This is also reflected in the fact that I chose to come visit the institute whenever I find myself in Cambridge. My only misgiving with the Institute is the low number of female group leaders.
During my PhD at the CI I was able to acquire all the skills necessary for my next step, a postdoctoral position: I learned how to conduct scientific research but also improved my scientific communication (by giving lunchtime seminars and lab tours for the general public) as well as teaching (through undergraduate supervision) and leadership skills (by taking on graduate society roles).
If you are considering the CI for your PhD I would recommend thinking about the following questions: Are you passionate about cancer research? Are you a team player who enjoys scientific exchange and collaboration? Are you excited about being part of an international community? If like for me, the answer is yes, then do not hesitate to apply!”