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Mentoring

Applications for our mentoring scheme are now open. Details and registration form available below. Deadline on the 24th of November 2023.

Read Alexandros Angelopoulos' experience of the BSGCT mentoring scheme

About the BSGCT Mentoring Scheme

BSGCT Mentoring Scheme aims

The BSGCT mentoring scheme aims to support aspiring early career cell and gene therapy scientists in their career development to achieve their full potential and reach their professional goals in both academia and industry. We strive to tailor the mentorship relationship to the individual and provide a comprehensive outline so you can make the most of our scheme. If you’re looking for support and guidance within the field of gene and cell therapy – you’ve come to the right place!

 

Who is this scheme for?

This mentorship scheme is targeted to all researchers with less than 3 years of employment since completing their highest degree who are interested in a career in the field of cell and gene therapy. Examples include current students, postdoctoral researchers within 3 years of completing their PhD, and scientists who entered employment following their undergraduate or Master’s course less than 3 years ago. Career breaks are excluded, so researchers that are several more years post-degree can also be eligible if their cumulative employment is less than 3 years post-qualification. If you are unsure if you fit the qualifications but are interested in the mentorship scheme, please get in touch with us at board@bsgct.org and we will be able to advise on your eligibility.

 

Benefits of having a mentor

We have mentors in both academia and industry and will aim to pair you with a mentor who is currently working in your area of interest. There are many benefits to having a mentor, these include:

  • Advice from someone who has been in your career stage.

  • Increased networking within your field and encouragement to build supportive connections.

  • Gain a fresh perspective from a positive role model.

  • Guidance on career progression.

  • Opportunities for confidential review of CV, job, and grant applications.

  • It is a safe place for reflection and support.

  • Be supported in your career goals while receiving honest feedback in a trustworthy environment.

  • Learn about all the opportunities the BSGCT has to offer.

  • Support with scheduling and balancing responsibilities.

  • Grow in confidence, experience, and challenge any limiting beliefs you may have.

 

There are also many benefits to being a mentor, and if this is something you’d be interested in we’d love to hear from you!

Why be a mentor?

  • Use your unique experience, insight, and advice to assist ECRs in their career pursuits.

  • It will help to develop your mentoring, leadership, and coaching skills.

  • An opportunity to support young researchers may help you to gain a different perspective and you could equally learn from your mentees.

  • This program may also assist mentors to gain improved peer recognition.

  • It will take willingness and commitment to meet someone over an extended period of time and help mentors gain experience in giving honest feedback and candid insight.

 

We are grateful to our mentors for their commitment to helping ECRs accomplish their goals, and welcome anyone interested in participating in the mentoring program. Please contact us at board@bsgct.org if you are interested in becoming a mentor.

 

Structure of the mentorship scheme

We will aim to partner you with a mentor in your field or area of interest and will facilitate a maximum of 10 pairs in the 2023 scheme. Please see below for potential fields of interest. The mentorship scheme will last 6 months, with a minimum of two online meetings expected in this time period, encouraging correspondence in-between. Flexibility is encouraged, and email correspondence and video conference calls will be the primary source of communication. Mentees are encouraged to define their goals for the mentorship scheme and make these clear to the mentor within the first meeting, where alignment of goals can then be a collaborative discussion. This will ensure both parties are aligned on the purpose of the scheme and allow you to get the most out of the mentoring relationship. All applicants and mentors need to be members of the BSGCT. Finally, we will encourage a final meeting at the end of the 6-month period to review the mentor-mentee relationship. The potential to extend the mentor relationship is available should both party’s consent.

 

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the mentoring scheme, please fill in the attached document briefly outlining your work, career stage, type of support from our mentor scheme and email it to us at board@bsgct.org by the 24th of November 2023 by 5pm with the subject “Mentoring scheme 2023”. Our team will then endeavour to match you with one of our mentors. You can see some of the mentors available on our website.

Our Mentors

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Dr Giulia Massaro
University College London

Dr Giulia Massaro is a Lecturer and Principal Investigator at the UCL School of Pharmacy. Giulia has completed her PhD in gene therapy for rare paediatric diseases of infants at UCL, and now works on novel viral vector technologies. Since 2013 Giulia has been involved in many translational gene therapy projects, collaborating with both academia and industry, focusing on rare neuro-metabolic disorders. In 2020 Giulia was awarded a NHIR GOSH BRC Research Fellowship and funded the NeuroGTx Viral Synthesis Facility, a vector production laboratory for research-grade viral vector batches, where she provides expertise and support for new and established researchers wishing to produce customised viral vectors. Giulia is a member of the British Society for Cell and Gene Therapy (BSGCT) and the Italian Scientists in the UK (AISUK) executive boards.

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Dr Carly Bliss

Cardiff University

Dr Carly Bliss is a Teaching and Research Lecturer at Cardiff University, with a keen interest in mentoring both doctoral and postdoctoral Early Career Researchers. Carly´s research interests span the development of vaccines and immunotherapies for infectious diseases and cancer, with the specific application of adenoviruses as viral vectors for the induction of potent cellular immunity. Carly has worked across multiple countries throughout her career with various university affiliations and industry collaborations, and has experience of both basic and translational research. Alongside much of this, Carly sustained a premiership sporting career, and therefore understands the importance of a work-life balance.

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Dr Christos Georgiadis

UCL Great Ormond Street, Institute of Child Health

Dr Christos Georgiadis is a Postdoctoral Research Associate with MRC/Astrazeneca funding, researching CAR T cell gene editing using ZFN, TALEN and CRISPR tools for the disruption of endogenous HLA barriers in transplantation. Christos PhD involved the development of gene therapy for Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa. Christos is the chair of the BSGCT Public Engagement sub-committee and leads many of our outreach and public education events

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Dr Rajvinder Karda

University College London

Dr Rajvinder Karda is an Associate Professor at the Institute for Women’s Health, University College London. 

Rajvinder leads a research team which focus on developing pre-clinical gene therapy and RNA editing treatments for childhood genetic epilepsies. She also collaborates on gene therapy pre-clinical studies for inherited childhood neurometabolic disorders. Rajvinder is currently a board member of the British Gene and Cell Therapy Society & a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Dravet Syndrome Foundation, Spain and cure DHDDS, UK.

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Dr Florian T Merkle

University of Cambdrige

Dr Florian Merkle is a group leader at the University of Cambridge and has benefitted from mentoring throughout his career and strongly believes in “paying it forward” to the next generation of researchers. His research interests include human pluripotent stem cell genomic stability and differentiation to target cell populations for use in research and clinical application. Specifically, Florian is interested in modelling neurological diseases in vitro, and translating those insights into animal models and ultimately into therapies. As an immigrant from central Europe who grew up in the US and has worked California, Boston, and the UK, Florian has a perspective on different research cultures as well as the challenges and benefits of moving outside of one’s comfort zone to build new networks that have allowed him to collaborate widely with academic and industrial partners across Europe and the Americas. Florian is also attuned to the mental health challenges that often arise in high-pressure and elite institutions, and believe that a well-articulated personal development plan is the best way to obtain long-term professional development.

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Dr Mustafa Munye

Complement Therapeutics

Dr Mustafa Munye is the Vice President of Operations at Complement Therapeutics. His previous roles include director and R&D operations at Complement Therapeutics. Before then Mustafa was a Lead Scientist at The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, an independent centre of excellence to advance the growth of the UK cell and gene therapy industry. Mustafa helped bridge the gap between scientific research and full-scale commercialisation with partners in academia and industry. Mustafa has previously been a guest lecturer and a postdoctoral researcher at University College London, developing a gene therapy for Bardet-Biedl syndrome, and an Investigator (Transgene Analyst) at GlaxoSmithkline. Mustafa has previously chaired the BSGCT Promotions & Communications Sub-committee and is on the current Clinical Translation & Regulatory Affairs sub-committee.

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Professor Stuart Nicklin

University of Glasgow

Professor Stuart Nicklin is a Professor of Cardiovascular Molecular Therapy in the School of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Health. After completing his PhD at the Bristol Heart Institute, University of Bristol working on targeting adenoviral gene transfer vectors for cardiovascular gene therapy he then moved to post-doctoral training in the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics at the University of Glasgow. From there Stuart was successful in securing a British Heart Foundation Intermediate Fellowship before an academic position at the University of Glasgow. Stuart has been Principal Investigator on a number of project grants funded by the British Heart Foundation and Medical Research Council and is co-investigator in the BHF Centre of Research Excellence. Stuart is currently Executive Deputy Editor of Cardiovascular Research and on the Editorial Board of Human Gene Therapy, Molecular Therapy, Hypertension and Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine- Cardiovascular Biologics and Regenerative Medicine. Stuart is elected to the Executive Board of the British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy as General Secretary.

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Professor Alan Parker

Cardiff University

Professor Alan Parker is Professor of Translational Virotherapies, based at Cardiff University, where he has led his own team since 2013. Prior to that, Alan was based at the University of Glasgow from 2005 – 2013 where he was a postdoc, then a Royal Society of Edinburgh Personal Fellow prior to starting his own group in South Wales. Alan has also worked previously at King’s College London (2003-2005), and his PhD was from the University of Birmingham (1998-2002). His work involves the manipulation and engineering of adenoviral vectors into advanced therapeutic agents, primarily for the treatment of cancers (so called “oncolytic viruses”). Their first agent is licensed to Accession Therapeutics and is due to undergo clinical translation in 2024. As a result, Alan has good understanding of both academic and industry environments and has experienced the highs and lows of both! He previously established the thriving BSGCT Early Career Development and Collaboration subcommittee and he is keen to mentor ECRs working in the ATMP space.

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Professor Rafael J. Yáñez-Muñoz

Royal Holloway University of London

Professor Rafael J. Yáñez-Muñoz is Professor of Advanced Therapy and Director of the Royal Holloway Centre of Gene and Cell Therapy at the Department of Biological SciencesRoyal Holloway University of London, UK. Rafael received his BSc and PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain. Following appointments with MRC/Imperial College, University College London, Queen Mary’s University of London and King’s College London, he now leads the Advanced Gene and Cell Therapy lab (AGCTlab.org) at Royal Holloway. He is also the current President (2021-2025) of the British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy. Rafael was Editor-in-Chief of Gene Therapy (2017-2020), where he promoted the internationalization of the journal and equality in senior editing roles and the editorial board. Rafael also believes it is very important to engage with the wider society, was a Trustee and then Chair of Trustees of the Genetic Alliance UK (2015-2020) and has organised a yearly outreach event on Rare Disease Day from 2011.

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Dr Beata Surmacz-Cordle

GSK

Dr Beata Surmacz-Cordle is an experienced manager and scientist, leading and matrix managing teams to advance novel products as transformational medicines. Over 13 years of professional experience in research and development of medicines within biopharma, academic and governmental setting. Beata obtained her PhD from Imperial College (Stem Cells and Developmental Neurobiology for Parkinson’s Disease) after which she was a Post Doctoral Fellow at Pfizer (working on Stem Cell therapy for AMD).  Her previous roles include Lead Scientist role at The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and CMC Development Lead at GSK. She is currently Global Clinical Development Lead at GSK. Beata is a member of MHRA/BP working group contributing to industry wide guidelines. In addition to being BSGCT board member, she is also board member for the UK Regenerative Medicine Hub and is looking to obtain MBA degree next year. In her career Beata lead diverse projects with accountability for budgets and human resources. She is passionate about development and commercialization of medicines to make a difference to patients’ life.

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Dr Riccardo Privolizzi 

Sania Therapeutics

Honorary Research Fellow at UCL

Dr Riccardo Privolizzi is a Staff Scientist II at Sania Therapeutics where he leads the gene regulatory element research and development programme. Riccardo is also an Honorary Research Fellow and Guest Lecturer in Gene Therapy at the University College London Institute for Women’s Health and Institute of Neurology. Riccardo specialised in the characterisation of novel synthetic promoters and translational AAV gene therapy of a mouse model of infantile parkinsonism-dystonia. He started working in neurological gene therapy using lentiviral vectors and induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons. Between his MSc and PhD, he worked as a research assistant across a range of academic laboratories within the University of London, to then pursue a UCL “Impact” PhD in collaboration with AskBio Europe. Riccardo can offer mentoring for Early Career Researchers with an interest in the industry sector.

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