Sadaf’s Shadowing Experience

At first, like most students I applied for the Staff Student Shadowing Scheme because it gave me the opportunity to see the work life of a staff member. I am a Ph.D. student and my project has been hunting down for very small molecules that we think regulate one of the post-transplantation complications (graft-versus-host disease)- those patients transplanted with donor cells. So I am a wet lab scientist and my department shelters other wet lab scientists like myself who are Ph.D. students to Professors. Therefore, it was very interesting to be able to get an insight into the work life of Martin Cox who is the Head of the Enterprise Services at the Faculty of Medical Sciences. His area of work was fresh air especially since I am working towards wrapping up my experiments and writing my science based thesis that has lots of graphs and p-values! I have always been interested on the commercial aspects of science as I see it as an area that I will be involved at some point in my science career. Hence, it was an ideal shadowing scheme for me.

The first half-day comprised of Martin having individual meetings with his team members and going through his long list of e-mails with Ruth. Something I had never seen before was how they worked as a team  and went through his inbox taking quick actions on the e-mails. To me it was a perfect way of tackling e-mails, something I had never seen before. It meant that people received replies much more quickly and urgent issues were dealt with. Moreover, none of the e-mails were ignored which was quite remarkable. Another, interesting observation was how he had his queries written for each of his team members on a post-it. So as the meetings went on he would go through them, cross them out and take down notes. None of the team members had to remind him on anything which I guess was the fact that he had gone through his notes pre-meeting. So again no time was wasted on going down the history path!

My second half-day was again shadowing him at his Team Meeting and attending two individual meetings with his team members. The Team Meeting was quite informal and everyone shared their views and updates on issues. Another observation was how he had to make quick decisions and approve very important issues before any action could be taken on. Shadowing Martin made me realize that his role is filled with responsibilities and also requires good communication and negotiation skills. There is lots of decision making involved that I had never known about before the scheme.

In summary, the Enterprise Unit is like a mini-industry where there is fast turn-around of outcomes, every case is dealt with quickly, reported and filed. There is a clear vision and the team work well together towards achieving the mission. Efficient and good communication between individuals was evident even to an observer. It was also clear that time and funds are invested on the team members’ career developments that in turn enhance their efficiency.


Personally, the shadowing scheme was quite rewarding as I had an insight into the Enterprise Services and Martin’s work but also learnt many useful tips (queries on post-it, managing e-mails, team communication) that I plan to implement in the future. Thus, I would definitely recommend it to any student who is interested in knowing and learning tips from experienced members of staff in particular those outside of their own research zone!

-Sadaf Atarod


Comparative Genomics and Animal Models for the Development of Graft-Versus Host Disease Workshop

Course duration: Monday 30th June – Tuesday 1st July 2014

Location: Rotunden, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Domus Medica, University of Oslo



Preliminary Programme

Monday 30th June 2014

09:30 – 10:00  Coffee

10:00 – 10:20  Welcome and Introduction to the Workshop

Professor Bent Rolstad, University of Oslo

10:20 – 10: 40 Visualisation of clinical and pathomorphological changes in mice developing GVHD

Prof Evelyn Ullrich, Frankfurt University

10:40 – 11: 00 Our rat model for Graft versus Host Disease

Margherita Boirei, CELLEUROPE PhD Early Stage Researcher, University of Oslo

11:00 – 13:00  Demonstration of rat disease models and biological markers for Graft versus Host Disease

Open to all participants attending the 1st July

This session will focus first on which parameters are of importance in monitoring GVHD. This will begin in the auditorium with imagery of animals with GVHD, histological changes in organs affected by GVH-reactions, GVH score sheets in the rat, monitoring of changes in leukocyte populations by flow cytometry and changes in cytokine profiles as measured in blood.

It will be followed by a visit to our animal facility, where rats undergoing GVHD will be demonstrated and how the stage is scored. Fellows will also be shown a demonstration of blood sampling from rats.           

13:00 – 14:20 Lunch- Café Eric

14:20               Tram to Holmenkollen ski jump arena

15:00               Visit to the Ski Museum, Holmenkollen and a visit to the top of the ski jump         

18:00               Return to the hotel

19:00               Group Dinner- Bristol Hotel (All Meeting Invitees)

 Tuesday 1st July 2014

 09:30 – 10:00  Registration and Coffee

10:00 – 10:10  Introduction by Professor Bent Rolstad, University of Oslo Cellular therapy models for GVHD.

What makes NK cells so attractive as therapeutic targets?

 Session 1: Comparative Genomics

10:10 – 10:35  Invited speaker 1

Professor Peter Parham, Stanford School of Medicine, California USA

Evolution of KIR genes and molecules and other receptor genes relevant for alloHSCT in primates

10.35 – 10.45  Discussion

 10:45 – 11:15 Invited speaker 2

Professor Lutz Walter, German Primate Centre, Göttingen, Germany

Evolution of MHC genes and molecules in primates and rodents

11:15 – 11:25  Discussion

 11:25 – 11:40  Coffee Break

11:40 – 12:15  Invited speaker 3

Professor Ralf Dressel, Georg-August University of Göttingen, Germany

Effects of the MICA-129 dimorphism on NKG2D signaling and association with the outcome of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

 12:15 – 12:50  Invited speaker 4

Professor Kalle Malmberg, Karolinska Institutet, Oslo University Hospital

NK cell repertoire diversity in the human and its implication for allogeneic stem cell transplantation

 12:50 – 13:00  Discussion and brain storm

Introduction to next session: How can animal models aid in developing novel cellular therapies for alloHSCT?

13:00 – 14:30  Lunch- Café Eric

Session 2: Animal models

14:30 – 15:00  Invited speaker 4

Professor Evelyn Ullrich, Goethe University, Frankfurt

 Cellular Immunoregulation of Graft versus Leukaemia and Graft versus Host Disease in a murine model of allogenic SCT

 15:00 – 15:30  Invited Speaker 5

Professor Erik Dissen, Department of Anatomy, University of Oslo

Natural killer cell receptors in mouse and rat

 15:30 – 15:50 Senior Scientist Marit Inngjeringen, Institute of Immunology, Oslo University Hospital

Chemokines and chemokine receptors in the pathogenesis of Graft versus Host Disease

 15:50 – 16.10  Postdoc Lise Kveberg, Institute of Immunology, Oslo University Hospital

NK cell subsets in the rat: Phenotypic and functional characteristics with implications for selection of NK cells as therapeutic tools for GVHD

 16:10 – 16.45  General Discussion

What information can we extract from rodent models for gaining a deeper understanding of the pathogenesis and better treatment of GVHD in humans?

 16:45 – 17:00  Summary and Closure of the meeting, Professor Bent Rolstad

 19:00-   Informal Group Dinner (Venue to be determined)


AIR: Oslo Airport Gardermoen- Airport train to Oslo Central station isapproximately 20 min

The other airports Rygge or Torp offer a connection to Oslo by rail or road of approximately 1.5 – 2 hours

RAIL: Oslo Central Rail Station



Rica Travel Hotel

Arbeidergata 4

Oslo, Norway

Tel: (+47) 22 00 33 00




Situated centrally in Oslo close to our Parliament building (Stortinget)

Prices: about 100E per night



Professor Bent Rolstad

Department of Anatomy, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences,

Oslo University Hospital, PO Box 1105, Blindern 0317 Oslo

Tel: +47 22851212 (work) +47 90601371 (mobile)



Katie Nurowski

Institute of Cellular Medicine, Haematological Sciences, The Medical School,

Newcastle University, Framlington Place, NE2 4HH

United Kingdom

Tel: 0044-1912085866



Monday 30th June PM – Guided visit to the Ski Museum, Holmenkollen and Group Dinner

Tuesday 1st July PM – Informal Group Dinner (Venue to be determined)


Day trip to Leica Research Laboratories, 29-30th Jan, 2014, 9:00-12:30

Final year of PhD is crucial, not only because you have just a few months to finish experiments and write your thesis but importantly it is about time that you look out for potential employers, be it in academia or industry. While meeting prospective supervisors in academia is slightly less challenging, given that you are within the academic realms already, the chances of meeting with an R&D manager or recruiter are very slim!

Well, not anymore…!! In order to fill in this gap the postgraduate research community at ICM (prICM) has been organising industrial visits for students and postdocs, who are either unsure or confident about their place in an industrial R&D laboratory. Our first visit was to Covance, a local contract research organisation in Alnwick. This time it was Leica Biosystems in Newcastle.
Leica Biosystems is in fact one of the very first spin-out companies from Newcastle University. Its founder Professor CHW Horne, a pathologist based at Newcastle University, not only identified the need for antibodies which were designed specifically for using with formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissues, but in fact took this vision forward into finding Novocastra Laboratories Ltd in 1990, to provide a reliable solution. Novocastra range continued to expand and in 2007, along with Vision BioSystems, it formed the Biosystems Division of Leica Microsystems. Today Leica Biosystems is a world leader in histopathology solutions and automation especially in cancer diagnostics.

Not surprising then, we had a few good reasons to pick Leica; first of all its connection with the university meant that it is a good inspiration for the young entrepreneurs amongst us, also importantly unlike our previous visit, Leica Biosystems Newcastle Ltd, was different since its products are aimed for clinicians and researchers and not patients. This, we hoped, would give us a broader sense of understanding of the different work ethos within different industries.

The tour began with an informative background about Leica, its growth over the years and finally, crucially, GMP and GLP in a nutshell! Having introduced the plot, we were now in the scene to get an insight into how each sub-division is managed, the laboratories and also the daily activities that each role demanded. The highlight of the tour came from one of the R&D managers, who gave us a detailed explanation of the workflow with the example of an incoming project, following it through to completion. This in fact was an eye opener for many as it showed us the diverse range of responsibilities one may expect working as an industrial R&D scientist. This was welcoming, especially to the ones amongst us, who like being challenged and perhaps are less keen on a routine work schedule. As this informative morning drew to a close, we met with some of the existing members of the teams and not surprisingly by this time had some of us converted from academia to industry!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the team at Leica who welcomed us to their site and offered to show how it can be like working in a bioscience industry!

Finally no trip would be a success without its participants. So here’s what some of them had to say;

I thought it was great, the whole trip was geared towards exactly the type of information I wanted to find out. I think more trips would be fantastic!

Once we went to the R&D side I got really excited as it sounded exactly what I would like to do. There seemed lots of exciting projects and opportunities available!

It was really nice to get an overview of the whole business and where the different departments fit in. I think it’s really important to look at different companies to get an idea of whether you would want to work there before applying for jobs…!

I liked the fact we were able to gain face to face contact with the people (line managers) you would be working for. Overall I think this has been a success and this completely justifies the need for prICM.

I left feeling much more confident about a Career in industry and feel that I know much more now to make an informed decision about my future. We’ve had talks from people before but I think seeing it and having a one on one interaction was far more beneficial. Especially having never really been in industry or knowing anyone that is…!

When I’ve heard people talking about life in industry, they always stress how much paperwork it is, and I automatically made the assumption that industry jobs would be boring. At the Leica visit, I thought they made a really good job of putting it into context and justifying it – doesn’t seem boring at all now!

The visit to Leica was very well organised and a worthwhile trip.  Gave me a good insight into the types of jobs available in industry.


Visit on 29th Jan 2014


Visit on 30th Jan 2014

Leica Biosystems Newcastle Ltd, Balliol Business Park West, Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 8EW
-Organised by prICM

Christmas Tea

Christmas Tea

We would love to invite you for a ‘Christmas Tea’ on the 12th of December 2013 between 10:00-11:30 a.m. in the common room, 2nd Floor Leech. There will be coffee and cake and mince pie for all!

Ignite 2014: Newcastle University’s small grants scheme is now open.

Ignite is a small grants scheme run by Newcastle University’s Engagement Team to foster new projects and ideas from staff and students across the University. For 2014, our Ignite small grants scheme is being offered to help staff and students develop outreach activities that can contribute to the 9th edition of the ¡VAMOS! Festival, taking place between 6th and 22nd June 2014.

In the year that sees Brazil host the World Cup, ¡VAMOS! Festival 2014 will include:

• A vibrant street carnival
• Exclusive film premieres
• An outdoor family picnic
• A large-scale, pop-up restaurant
• A major literary conference with internationally renowned speakers
• Cutting edge visual art commissions by international artists

While ¡VAMOS! may initially appear niche in its celebration of Spanish and Portuguese speaking cultures, a quick look at programmes from previous years ( will show the variety of activities and events that have taken place under its umbrella. Combining cuisine, art, film, theatre, dance, music, literature, fashion, sport and education, activities have ranged from Mexican wrestling and costume making workshops for the Tyne Carnival to pop up film and food events, and a more traditional programme of lectures and debates.

They are encouraging proposals across all schools and departments within the University, and for the first time, we are including student societies. A proposal could range from a standalone event, to the development of a float for the Tyne Carnival, to a longer term project or series of events that can contribute in some way to the Festival. Creativity is encouraged, and tenuous links will not be ruled out! They are looking in particular for proposals that will:

• effectively engage local communities with our teaching and research
• welcome visitors onto our campus and showcase the University’s resources and facilities
• celebrate our international community of staff and students

Grant applications must be received by the closing deadline of Friday 17th January 2014. Completed forms should be returned to Kate Hudson, University Engagement Manager ( Please also get in touch with Kate directly if you would like to discuss any initial ideas, or would like some further support developing ideas.