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Introducing Sarah Madden - SCI Scholar 2017

Sarah Madden SCI Scholar 2017

19 July 2017

For over thirty years, SCI has supported and recognised the excellence of early career people, by aiding their studies in the form of an SCI Scholarship.

Since 1985 around 71 scholarships have been awarded which have not only given the recipients financial assistance, but have enabled them to broaden their network, and strengthen their skills and knowledge. SCI Scholars receive access to publishing and mentoring opportunities and are given a platform to present their work amongst esteemed scientists and industrialists, thus raising their profile within the scientific community. In the past nine years alone, SCI has generously bequeathed over £115,000 of its charitable funds to SCI Scholars and the scientists of the future.

Sarah Madden was awarded an SCI Scholarship in 2017. Here, she tells us about herself and her research project.

‘I first became interested in chemistry at school, receiving full marks in both my Chemistry and Biology AS levels. I realised that I loved viewing the world at a molecular level and so I chose to study Chemistry at the University of Oxford.

‘During my undergraduate degree, I was one of two dozen students to be awarded a place on GlaxoSmithKline’s residential chemistry training experience programme and I also won a summer studentship from the Oxford Cancer Centre. My degree fostered in me a particular interest in organic and biological chemistry and led me to choose an undergraduate project in epigenetics with Professor Christopher Schofield, FRS. My contribution during my project resulted in me being named on three publications: Kawamura, A. et al. Nat Commun 2017, 8, 14773; Williams, S. T. et al. Epigenetics 2014, 9 (12), 1596-603; and Walport, L. J. et al. J Biol Chem 2014, 289 (26), 18302-13.

‘After graduating with a first-class degree, I moved to the University of Cambridge to begin a BBSRC DTP-funded PhD under the supervision of Professor Laura Itzhaki in the Department of Pharmacology. Recently, I was one of only 12 PhD students across all subjects and departments at Cambridge University who won a Cambridge Society for the Application of Research (CSAR) student award. I also delivered a platform (oral) presentation on my PhD research at the Biochemical Society's Synthetic Biology UK 2016 Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland and presented a poster at the SCI's Protein-Protein Interactions 2016 meeting in London.

‘My PhD project affords me the opportunity to work on a novel approach to creating a drug against the protein Myc - a cancer target that has hitherto been regarded as ‘undruggable’. I love challenges and I believe it is my honour and privilege to be able to work on an area of chemistry that has remarkable potential to significantly impact cancer, a global pandemic that kills one in eight people worldwide. I am deeply passionate about improving the public understanding of science and communicating my research to a lay audience.  I have delivered public performances as part of the award-winning "Science Showoff" stand-up comedy roadshow, FameLab's Cambridge science communication competition, and the BBC's "Naked Scientists" radio show.

‘This SCI scholarship will afford me great networking opportunities and allow me to learn more about how best to commercialise my research in the future.’

Sarah Madden
PhD Student
University of Cambridge

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