Shreeya reflects on her first semester on the MSc Tissue Engineering for Regenerative Medicine course. Read about all the modules she took on this course including the hands-on practical skills she gained in the lab.
This semester has been both a lot more challenging as well as a lot more satisfying than I had expected it to be when I first landed in Manchester as an international student.
It’s been (almost) six months now, and sometimes I still feel out of my depth, as if I have just arrived here yesterday. For the most part though, I have been enjoying my new life in a new country. The fact that I’ve survived an entire semester here calls not only for a celebration but also for a little revisit into the semester.
During the first month of the semester, all Mondays were reserved for the course Research Methods, where we learned research skills like ethics, research design, statistics, and abstract writing. The usually two-hour sessions were very interactive with small quizzes and polls during the lecture. Case studies further helped us understand the concepts better.
I was already conversant with some of the concepts like research design from my undergraduate degree project. This course, however, helped me gain a deeper understanding of why things are done the way they are. This was a rather short theory based course with only a handful of sessions. We had a couple of assignments and an exam as part of the assessment and we had completed this unit by the end of October.
The unit on Laboratory Skills was the most fascinating one for me as we got to work in the fancy, high-tech labs at the university.
This short unit is focused on developing our expertise in essential laboratory techniques like histological staining, immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry, and PCR which are required to be mastered by students to function independently in laboratories. We also learnt some other techniques like mass spectroscopy and the various kinds of microscopy.
The assessments for Laboratory Skills included two online quizzes and a 2000 word written report. We submitted our final assessment by the middle of November. Prior to the submissions, we got valuable feedback on drafts of our reports by a post doc student allocated to each one of us.
We had a smaller class strength of 20 students for the Masterclass as this unit was specific to our MSc TERM degree. The previous two units were common with other MSc courses, like Neuroscience, Precision Medicine etc, and therefore we had combined lectures in packed lecture theatres.
We had one or two sessions per week on various research fields in regenerative medicine conducted by different professors who were all leading name experts in their respective fields. They not only introduced us to many fascinating topics like bioprinting, appendage regeneration, skin ageing, mechanosensing, among many others but they gave us insights into their own research work as well.
The first half of the session was designed to give us an understanding of the theory behind the particular topic. The second half covered the application of the topic in the context of regenerative medicine. It was truly inspiring exposure to research areas we could potentially work in.
We had two assessments for this unit, an exam and a team clinical challenge. For the team challenge, we were broken up into groups of 4-5 and were supposed to come up with a treatment strategy for a certain clinical problem given to the group, peripheral nerve injury in my case.
This was a little daunting and caused me quite a bit of stress but brainstorming sessions with my group mates in the library were some of the most intellectually invigorating moments of the year for me.
Research Project 1
The Research Project is the first step towards our final dissertation. Once the research topics/areas were finalised in October, we started reading papers and journal articles on the topic under the guidance of our research supervisor.
For Research Project 1, first we wrote a literature review after extensively studying the existing literature on our research topics. Then we had to come up with a detailed research proposal describing our research aims, hypothesis, experimental design and research significance. I started working on my chosen project on the topic of regeneration of tail fins in zebrafish. I had completed the literature review on this topic when I was required to change my projects as some health issues made it impossible for my supervisor to continue in his role. Although this caused a disruption in my studies, thanks to the support I got from the University I managed to switch topics.
A new supervisor took over, and under her guidance I wrote my research proposal on the role of TSG-6, an anti-inflammatory protein, in knee osteoarthritis. The literature review and the research proposal together accounted for a combined 9000 words. After submitting these documents, I have now started the Research Project 2. For the next 25 weeks I will be doing research work in the lab on the research proposal written earlier.
On the whole I would say that this semester has been a very exciting adventure filled with a lot of learning, socialising, and making lasting memories. I am excited about what the coming six months hold for me. Onwards and Upwards!
One thought on “My first semester on the MSc Tissue Engineering for Regenerative Medicine course”
When you were in your first semester,can you tell me the amount of readings assigned to you because that is where i feel so stuck.In Biology there is literally too much to read with all the hefty textbooks.And learning from this vast knowledge seems quite a difficult job at the start…