Jason Chu is a postgraduate research student from Glasgow who is on the Medical Research Council (MRC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) programme, working on a project on in-vivo imaging of macrophage behaviour in wound healing. Here, he talks about his experiences of the programme, the University and the city of Manchester...
Why I chose the MRC DTP
I actively pursued a project with a macrophage and imaging aspect, and found that Dr Katherine Finegan at Manchester would be the most suitable supervisor for me, as I was looking for a supervisor who was engaging, supportive and understanding of work-life balance.
Having a healthy work-life balance would give me ample time, space and support to actively pursue other avenues of personal development (namely roles in public engagement, policy and teaching).
While location was not a major factor for me in deciding where to go next, it was encouraging to know that The University of Manchester had such a strong academic and research reputation.
About my research
My research aims to understand the role of the immune system in wound healing – specifically, to investigate the dynamic role of macrophages in regulating wound healing and its relationship with the ERK5 pathway.
We have been manipulating the behaviour of macrophages with various modifiers to promote inflammation (LPS, Psl), remove macrophages (clodronate), and remove ERK5 (ERK5-D; novel drug) and then assessing the wound healing profile.
As part of the workflow, we have been evaluating an established macrophage-PET tracer, and will assess a novel nanobody-based PET tracer to visualise the dynamic role of macrophages.
My PhD experience so far
I have enjoyed the process as a learning curve and have used this time to develop my skills beyond just research and academic. Manchester has been great for developing my professional skills – teaching, presentation and management – to be more rounded, and many of these transferable skills will likely put me in a strong position in future careers, whether that is in academia or beyond.
I also enjoy the community vibe that is created by being part of the MRC DTP cohort. It has made it very easy to develop networks and friends during the course of my PhD.
My impressions of Manchester
The city (in more of a social sense) is very much on the same wavelength as my previous residence in Glasgow. This made the move here much easier.
There is a lot going on in the city of Manchester, and this made creating a network a very accessible process, whether that was directly in a research capacity or in a broader environment (eg networks in art, policy and teaching and tying that to aspects of my public engagement).
I think having this well-rounded experience at Manchester has opened up the scope of what my future might entail.
I have attained a wealth of knowledge, experience and networks. It is likely that I won’t continue in academic research in the long run, and I am currently reviewing what options I have in public engagement, higher education teaching and/or policy.
However, as I am in my final year of the PhD, I have found myself a lot busier with the main focus – the research – and find it more difficult to find the time to plan my future.