The BSGCT has launched its first mentoring scheme! 

What is mentoring?
Are you looking for support over an extended period of time in relation to your career progress and aspirations in the gene and cell therapy field? If so, the BSGCT mentoring scheme may be for you!

Our Aim
To provide early career researchers of gene and cell therapy with a connection in the field, to talk through a variety of issues that affect them at various stages of their career and development, such as work-life balance or career development.
Your mentor may have followed a career path that interests you or faced similar challenges you are facing. Your mentor will support you by drawing on their professional and personal experience, listening to you, and providing information and encouragement where appropriate.

The benefits of mentoring
The BSGCT mentoring scheme aims to provide researchers with:
•  A positive role model
•  Help to expand the collaborative circle
•  Relevant connections to help develop a research profile
•  Encouragement for networking and building supportive connections
•  Support and motivation in key areas of career planning and development
•  Opportunities for a confidential review of options, strategies and decisions
•  Self-reliance and responsibility for career management
•  The ability to challenge negative/limiting beliefs
•  Confidence, additional skills and experience
•  Advice on cross institutional relationships

Time commitment
The mentor and mentee will decide how often they meet and for how long. From the start, the mentor and the mentee must be clear about how much time they are prepared to give and agree the frequency of meetings. Flexibility is encouraged, with email correspondence and video
conferencing expected to provide the primary sources of connection. We expect the mentoring relationship to last around 6 to 12 months, however, there is no limit if there is mutual consent to continue the relationship.

How to apply
If you are looking for a mentor in the gene and cell therapy field, we will ask you to fill out a short application form outlining your work, career stage, and the type of support you are looking for from a mentorship. Our team will then endeavour to match you with one of our board members.

Download Application Form

The BSGCT mentoring scheme is run by the Communications & Promotions and Early Career Development sub-committees. If you have any questions, please contact Ralph Hector.

Our BSGCT Mentors

Dr Ivana Barbaric – Centre for Stem Cell Biology, University of Sheffield
Ivana Barbaric’s research group is focused on the basic biology of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), cells able to self-renew indefinitely and to differentiate into any cell type. Thus, they hold great promise for the use in regenerative medicine and drug discovery. Ivana’s group is researching the genetic stability of hPSCs, the extrinsic and intrinsic cues that govern the stem cell fates and using hPSCs for disease modelling and drug discovery.

Robyn Bell – Imperial College London
Robyn is a final year PhD student, undertaking a Medical Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership with Imperial College London at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London. She received an Honours degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Manchester where she developed a keen interest in molecular biology and genetics. Robyn is a co-chair of the BSGCT Early Career and Development sub-committee and has been involved in many outreach activities.

Dr Carly Bliss – Cardiff University
Carly Bliss is a Postdoctoral Research Associate and Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellow. Carly’s research involves vaccine development and the identification of protective immune subsets, with a focus on universal vaccine development against influenza virus. Her current research uses novel adenoviral vectors as vaccines to direct potent immune responses against conserved regions of influenza virus.

Dr Christos Georgiadis – UCL Great Ormond Street, Institute of Child Health
Christos Georgiadis is a Postdoctoral Research Associate with NIHR funding, researching CAR T cell gene editing using ZFN, TALEN and CRISPR tools for the disruption of endogenous HLA barriers in transplantation. His 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.

Professor Uta Griesenbach – Imperial College London
Uta Griesenbach is a Professor of Molecular Medicine at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London. She joined the Gene Therapy Group Two at Imperial College in 1997 having earlier graduated from the University of Bonn (Germany) and completed a PhD at the Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto, Canada) and the University of Bonn. Uta is the current President of the BSGCT, and a Non-Executive Board Member of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult. 

Dr Ralph Hector – University of Edinburgh
Ralph Hector is a senior gene therapy researcher at the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences in Edinburgh, with a background in virology (PhD) and genetics. His research focuses on developing novel genetic therapies for neurodevelopmental disorders, and has been awarded grants supporting a treatment for Rett syndrome. Ralph has worked in academia, and with industry partners, developing novel technologies and patents in the rare disease field. Ralph has been involved in several outreach projects and awards and is the chair of the BSGCT Promotions & Communications sub-committee.

Dr Rajvinder Karda – University College London
Dr Rajvinder Karda is a Senior Research Fellow & Group lead at the Institute for Women’s Health (IfWH), UCL. She completed her PhD in Gene Transfer and Neuroscience at Imperial College London in 2016. Her research team mainly focuses on developing pre-clinical gene therapy and gene editing treatments for childhood epilepsy, including Dravet Syndrome. She also collaborates on pre-clinical gene therapy projects for rare childhood metabolic disorders. She is currently a board member of the British Gene and Cell Therapy Society and a member of the Advisory Committee for the Dravet Foundation Charity in Spain. Rajvinder co-leads mentoring at IfWH and is a member of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team at IfWH.

Dr Lisa McArthur – University of Glasgow
Lisa McArthur is a Postdoctoral Research Associate who is investigating new heart attack treatments at the University of Glasgow. Her research involves investigating the mechanisms and the potential for the clinical translation of angiotensin-(1-9) in myocardial infarction, using an AAV gene therapy approach, an expansion of her PhD work. In the past year Lisa has volunteered to help with Covid-19 testing in Glasgow’s Lighthouse Lab. Lisa is an Early Career representative on the BSGCT board, and a co-chair of the Network for Early Career Researcher Development (NERD).

Dr Gerry McLachlan – University of Edinburgh 
Gerry McLachlan gained his PhD at the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, University of Aberdeen. His postdoctoral research on Cystic Fibrosis (CF) included involvement in an early clinical trial of gene therapy and led to a Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship to study beta-defensins in the ovine lung, and then a Senior CF Trust Research Fellowship with the UK Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Consortium aimed at translation of gene therapy to the clinic. He is currently a Group Leader at The Roslin Institute where he has developed an interest in other models of respiratory disease/biology and the application of large animal models for preclinical studies to evaluate safety and efficacy of vectors for respiratory gene/miRNA delivery.

Dr Mustafa Munye – Cell and Gene Therapy, Catapult
Mustafa Munye is 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. He helps 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.

Professor Stuart Nicklin – University of Glasgow
Stuart Nicklin is a Professor of Cardiovascular Molecular Therapy in the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences. After completing his PhD at the Bristol Heart Institute, working on cardiovascular gene therapy using adenoviral vectors, he moved to post-doctoral training in the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics at the University of Glasgow and a British Heart Foundation (BHF) Intermediate Fellowship before an academic position at the University of Glasgow. He has been Principal Investigator on several project grants funded by the BHF and Medical Research Council (MRC), and is co-investigator in the BHF Centre of Research Excellence. He is currently Executive Deputy Editor of Cardiovascular Research and on the Editorial Board of several gene therapy and cardiovascular journals. Stuart is the General Secretary of the BSGCT.

Professor Alan Parker – Cardiff University
Alan Parker has a long-standing interest in virology and how this can be applied to cancer therapies using "oncolytic" adenoviral based vectors; work that stems from his PhD at the University of Birmingham. His team at Cardiff develops “virotherapies” for treatment of cancer. Alan leads a team of 20 researchers and has been a Personal Chair since 2020.

Dr Linda Popplewell – Royal Holloway, University of London
Linda Popplewell’s research focuses on the pre-clinical development of gene therapies based on gene addition, endonuclease-mediated gene editing, and antisense oligonucleotide (AO)-induced exon skipping and gene silencing for neuromuscular diseases, in particular muscular dystrophies. Her molecular therapies are based on gene addition, endonuclease-mediated gene editing, antisense oligonucleotide (AO)-induced exon skipping and gene silencing, and viral and non-viral delivery methods. Linda has interacted extensively with industry, with some patented therapies already having entered clinical trials, and future pre-clinical work being performed in collaboration with pharmaceutical partners. As a PDRA, Linda took career breaks while raising children and became an independent academic upon receipt of a fellowship. She has recently been promoted to Reader of Molecular Therapies.

Professor Rafael J. Yáñez-Muñoz – Royal Holloway, University of London
Rafael Yáñez is the Director of the Centre of Gene and Cell Therapy in the Department of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London. Prof Yáñez previously held Lecturer appointments with King’s College London and University College London and received his BSc and PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain. He has a strong interest in research translation, extensive experience in gene and cell therapy for both common and rare diseases and is particularly involved in the development of safer methods using genome editing. Rafael is the president-elect of the BSGCT.