Group leader in biomarker research - Jessica Anne Downs

Scheme name

Career Establishment Award

Awarding committee

Training and Career Development Board

Career level

Group leader

Research area

Biomarker research

Year awarded

2008

Funding length

5 years

Location

MRC Genome Damage and Stability Centre, University of Sussex.

Career background

  • 2007 - Reader, MRC Genome Damage and Stability Centre, University of Sussex
  • 2002 to 2007 - Group leader. I received the Jenner Fellowship from the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine. I used this award to establish my own group in the Biochemistry Department in Cambridge.
  • 1999 to 2002 - Post PhD Fellow. I stayed at Cambridge University's Wellcome Trust/Cancer research UK Institute for three more years to do a post doctorate supported by funding from Cancer Research UK.
  • 1996 to 1999 - PhD at Cambridge University at the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute.
  • 1995 to 1996 - Research Associate Harvard University.
  • 1996 - MSc degree at Boston University in Molecular Biology.

The application

The Career Establishment Award from Cancer Research UK covers the salaries of two posts - a postdoctoral researcher and a research assistant - and help with equipment for five years. 

This award is exactly what I need at this stage in my career – a long term, generous source of funding that lets me to invest in a core research programme, around which I can build the lab.

I also received very good support from my senior colleagues here at the MRC Genome Damage and Stability Centre, at the University of Sussex, during the application process, which helped me to solidify my long-term research goals and integrate them with the other research groups here.

Research aims

The project that this award is funding explores how chromatin influences genome stability. We have found a role for the Chromatin Remodelling Complex (RSC) in DNA double-strand break and repair activity and will investigate its response to DNA damage.

The stability offered by this award means I can consider how to use any lab results to establish avenues of clinical and translational investigation.

The support of Cancer Research UK lets me consider the diagnostic and therapeutic value of the research. Ultimately, I hope we exploit every opportunity to identify new drug targets or biomarkers linked to tumour development.

The work done in the next five years will support future programme grant applications.

Advice from Jessica

This award is ideal for people who have just been appointed to a University position. The five year time-frame lets recipients develop an ambitious long-term research plan and consider how basic research can help develop new diagnostics or therapeutics for cancer research.

I would advise future applicants to look at the broader scope of their research career to make use of this opportunity to generate excellent science, and develop their future.

Applicants should also take advantage of the advice and expertise of senior colleagues and collaborators in their field.

Find out more about this scheme

Jessica's advice for new applicants

"I would advise future applicants to look at the broader scope of their research career to make use of this opportunity to generate excellent science, and develop their future."

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