On 26-28 June, we held our first-ever NC3Rs Summer School, for the initial ten PhD students funded under our Studentship Scheme.
A packed programme gave the students the opportunity to learn more about us as an organisation and to build a greater awareness and understanding of the 3Rs. To help them with their studies, there were also practical workshop sessions on planning, structuring and managing a PhD, experimental design and the ARRIVE guidelines, and communicating to lay audiences. Presentations on different careers open to the students after their PhD's proved interesting, raising options they hadn't considered before.
The three-day retreat also gave the students a chance to get to know each other, and to share their experiences of studying for a PhD and being funded by NC3Rs. Despite the rain, a 3Rs-themed treasure hunt around the beautiful grounds of Hinxton Hall went down particularly well with the students, and with 1st years versus 2nd years, it got pretty competitive!
There was also a task to be completed over the three days, for which the students were divided into groups. Taking the format of a mini CRACK IT challenge, the students were tasked with researching, developing and presenting novel alternatives to a mouse xenograft cancer model. A prize was awarded to the group which gave the clearest presentation identifying the approach with the greatest 3Rs and scientific impact. With all of the groups generating brilliantly thought-out alternatives and excellent presentations, it was difficult to choose a winner. We were really impressed with their grasp of the 3Rs principles and the standard of work that they produced over such a short amount of time.
The main aim of the Summer School was to bring the students together to help build a community of 3Rs-minded researchers. After the success of this first event, we're looking forward to hosting more of these in the future; and with an increase in the number of studentship awards in recent years, it will be even bigger and better next time!