My first RGC meeting

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Last week I was super busy at the RGC/REQUITE project meetings that took place at the Manchester Cancer Research Centre and University of Manchester. These meetings are for members of the Radiogenomics Consortium (RGC) – scientists and clinicians that all share an interest in the genetics underlying radiotherapy response; and for research groups that took part in the REQUITE project – an international project that has collected a large amount of data on the treatment and outcomes of patients with breast, lung and prostate cancer.

I was off to the meetings because my research also looks at reducing radiotherapy side effects in breast cancer patients and even though I was not personally involved with the research for the REQUITE project, my lab was. Also, the research that discovered that time of day might play a role in the response to radiotherapy (what I am investigating further as part of my PhD) was found from data collected as part of this project.

Meetings like these are designed to update everyone on the research that is going on and discuss any new data that they have. It is also a great opportunity to network, meeting people with similar research interests with whom you can bounce ideas off and discuss potential collaborations.

The meetings were spread across 3 days: Monday was dedicated to research from the RGC, and Tuesday/Wednesday were dedicated to research carried out as part of the REQUITE project. The meetings generally started at around 9am and consisted of four sessions of short talks (around 20 minutes long) all on a similar theme separated by a morning break, a lunch hour and an afternoon break. The meetings then finished around 5pm and networking continued into the evening with a drinks reception and an evening meal.

The days were jam-packed and on both the Monday and Tuesday I was out of the hotel from around 8.30am to 10pm. The talks were great and it was so exciting to hear what people are working on at the moment. It was also really cool to be able to put faces to the names that I’ve heard so much about. At the moment I am writing my literature review and as part of my reading there have been a few names that continue to crop up as they are considered specialists in the field so it was really good to be able to see them, presenting their research in person.

As the meetings came to a close we were invited to the drinks reception and dinner. On Monday we had a quick tour of the John Rylands Library and then headed to Artisan bistro for the rest of our night. The food was lovely and there was lots to talk about after the first day of meetings. On Tuesday we had dinner and drinks at the Whitworth Art Gallery overlooking Whitworth Park and this night had a more relaxed feel about it.

I wasn’t presenting in these meetings but many of my colleagues were so it was lovely to see them promoting the research that’s happening here in Leicester. But even though I wasn’t taking the stage this time, the whole 3 days were pretty exhausting for me. I would definitely consider myself an introvert and so meeting new people is not something that always comes naturally to me. I am also really new to the field of radiogenomics and so trying to start up conversations with experts in the field that have decades more experience with me can make things a little more challenging.

My main reason for attending these meetings was to have my first experience of an international meeting/conference and so I can say that it was a success! I’ve taken myself out of my comfort zone and met some lovely new people which could lead to new collaborations and opportunities in the future – who knows! Hopefully next time I attend one I will have some exciting research of my own to talk about…

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