Catherine Russell – Babraham Institute

Catherine Russell, a fourth-year student at the University of York, spent ten weeks working remotely for the Babraham Institute in Cambridge. The Babraham Institute is a world-leading research institution that carries out research into how our bodies work, with a key focus on how they change as we age and during disease.
The featured images is of the Babraham Institute logo.
What did you do?
I was an intern with the Knowledge Exchange & Commercialisation (KEC) Team, in which I was involved in a wide range of projects and gained training in technology transfer. The KEC Team are responsible for translating scientific research and discoveries made at the Institute into benefits for external organisations. This is done through commercialisation and interaction with these other organisations. During my placement, I had the opportunity to gain experience in many different KEC activities, including licensing, patenting, policy making, database management, start-ups, and even book publishing. I also had the opportunity to write two blog posts, one about a policy workshop I attended and one on my internship as a whole.
What made you want to do that particular placement?
I was keen to do a placement that would give me experience in aspects of science research that I hadn’t had the chance to get involved with as part of my PhD. Specifically, I wanted to know more about the commercialisation side of research and gain new skills in areas distinct from those I have acquired throughout my PhD that would broaden my scientific knowledge overall. I was also really interested in the work done at the Babraham Institute, and particularly wanted a placement here because I was intrigued in their research into epigenetics, signalling and immunology.
How did you go about finding and planning your PIPS?
I was lucky enough to find a PIPS placement advertised through the White Rose DTP website that was just what I’d been looking for. I applied for this position and then had a meeting with two members of the KEC Team in which we discussed the placement and what aspects of technology transfer I’d like to get involved in. I was very pleased to later find out I’d been accepted for the internship and we organised my start date for later in the year.
What have you gained from doing your PIPS?
Through my PIPS, I gained a much deeper appreciation of the commercialisation side of scientific research and how complex this is. I learned a great deal about a wide range of areas of KEC, including licensing, patenting, IP, policy, and even had some experience in the book publishing process. I also got to learn a lot about the Babraham Institute, and the work the KEC team does in connection to the research being done.
How would you sum up your PIPS experience?
Overall, I really enjoyed my PIPS placement and I’m very glad to have had the opportunity to work at the Babraham Institute. The whole KEC team for made me feel so welcome, and I have gained useful new skills and a much deeper understanding of technology transfer.
What advice would you give to other PGRs about PIPS?
I would highly recommend looking for a placement that will give you the chance to gain skills and experience that you wouldn’t otherwise get from your PhD. For me, this was knowledge around the commercialisation side of science research, and this not only gave me a greater understanding of science research as a whole, but also provided me with new and useful transferable skills.