Mark Harrison

Project: The interaction between Clostridium Difficile, the intestinal microbiome and disease outcome

What were you doing before you joined the MRC DTP scheme?

I was working as a research assistant at SGUL. The group I worked in focused primarily on research in the field of STIs with a particular emphasis on diagnostics and antimicrobial resistance.

Why did you choose your primary institution (LSHTM or SGUL)?

The main reason I chose LSHTM was due to the project offered at the time by Dr Lisa Dawson. It was the most interesting of the projects to me and one I felt I would work well with. I was previously an MSc student at LSHTM and thoroughly enjoyed my experience so did not hesitate to apply to come back.

What do you enjoy most about your day-to-day work and the people you work with?

I enjoy working in the lab most of all, we have recently moved in to a new open plan lab alongside the other members of PMB. This means it’s really easy to get to know other researchers and share ideas and knowledge.

What do you value most about the MRC DTP studentship?

I value that the studentship is very supportive of training outside of my project and that we are funded for 3.5 years to allow us time to do a placement away from our primary institution. Employers are frequently looked for training in fields outside that of a usual PhD and we are able to get that with the studentship.

What additional training have you attended with MRC DTP money?

I have been able to attend a number of conferences which have been really beneficial as well as some training in fields related to my project such as immunology. I also plan to attend a bioinformatics training course soon.

Where did you go on your placement? What did you do?

I have yet to start my placement but I am due to start an internship at an small biotechnology company called Proxima concepts. They focus on the oral delivery of a range of therapeutics including vaccines and hormones.

Do you have any tips for future MRC DTP scholarship applicants?

Applicants should think hard about which project they can get the most out of but also put the most in to. PhDs are a massive undertaking and if a project isn’t right for a student then 3.5 years will feel like a very long time. However, if you enjoy your project then the time will fly by and there are always ample opportunities that will in terms of publications and outside training related to your PhD.

In terms of more day to day advice, you can never be too organised. You might assume you’ll remember something you did but then try to come back to it a few months later and have no idea what you did unless you’ve written it down somewhere that you can find.

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