SCI Scholar, Caity Fawcett, presents her end of scholarship report

5 July 2024

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

Since 1985 over 80 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, raising their profile within the scientific community.

Caity was awarded an SCI Scholarship in 2022. At the end of their scholarship, SCI Scholars present a report to SCI. Read on to find out what she has done in her final year as an SCI Scholar.

Caity Fawcett'I am extremely grateful to the SCI for the award of the prestigious SCI scholarship and all the opportunities it has provided me, and hope to maintain my relationship with the society following the end of my scholarship.

'My PhD project harnesses the high yielding and rapid nature of bioconjugation and click chemistries to create a high throughput platform to produce chemically linked bispecific antibodies, for rapid biological screening. We anticipate this platform will expediate the discovery of bispecific antibodies, allowing greater numbers of bispecific constructs to enter the clinic and treat patients worldwide. During my PhD I have published a review article assessing potential techniques which may enable the high throughput production of bispecific antibodies, titled ‘Facilitating high throughput bispecific antibody production and potential applications within biopharmaceutical discovery workflows’. I am currently also preparing a manuscript titled ‘A comparative study of click handle stability in common ligation conditions’, following challenges faced within my PhD caused by instability of click handles.

'As my SCI scholarship comes to an end, I reflect upon the immense opportunities that have been opened to me throughout my PhD, from the SCI scholarship. I began my PhD towards the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, with little experience in sharing my science any further than the University walls. Involvement with the SCI has enabled me to attend a range of events such as college of scholars days and receptions, in which I have made fruitful connections with a range of scientists with a span of scientific interests, both in academia and industry. Attendance at SCI conferences has exposed me to areas of chemistry outside the breadth of my own research, not only continuing my learning, but also sparking ideas about my own and others’ work and creating compelling scientific discussions.

'My involvement with the SCI C&I magazine, as a result of the scholarship, has exposed me to potential career options outside of the lab, and developed my attention to detail skills. I have also had an essay published within the C&I magazine titled ‘Chemically linked bispecific antibodies: A high-throughput approach for early stage screening’.

'This year, I utilised the funding from the SCI scholarship to attend my first international conferences. In January, I attended the 4th Alpine Winter Conference in Austria, in which I presented a poster to industrial and academics from around the world. I was delighted to receive a great amount of interest in my research, and returned to the lab brimming with new ideas to implement within my work. I thoroughly enjoyed the high calibre talks at the conference, which showcased cutting edge science within Medicinal Chemistry; I particularly enjoyed the novel industry approaches to Antibody-Drug Conjugate (ADC) production. In May, I attended the SCI Fine Chemicals Group Postgraduate Symposium in Cardiff, in which I was excited to receive the opportunity to present my PhD research in an oral presentation for the first time. This was met with excellent feedback, and inspired confidence in me to present my research further afield. In June, I presented at the Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition in Winnipeg, within the Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery: Novel and Emerging Modalities section. Speaking at this conference provoked a considerable amount of people to catch up with me and discuss my science, in which I created real and hopefully long lasting connections with chemists from across the globe.

'I look forward to presenting my research at the AGM this summer, and hope I receive interesting questions to discuss new and innovative ideas for my research! I would like to thank the SCI for the tremendous opportunities the award of the SCI scholarship has provided, and I anticipate continues to provide, throughout my career. I am immensely grateful to the SCI, and would like to thank the society for their continued support and guidance.'

Caitlin Fawclett, GSK/University of Strathclyde - Collaborative Industrial PhD programme

University of Strathclyde and GSK logos

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