SCI Scholar, Sarah Madden, presents her end of year report

21 September 2018

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 over 70 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. At the end of their first year, SCI Scholars present an end of year report to SCI. Read on to find out more about what Sarah has done in her first year as an SCI Scholar.

‘Over the last year, my research has focused on improving the affinity of my drug for its target. I have managed to improve it by over 350-fold, which has been a very exciting but challenging process! I am now turning my attention to its activity in cells and we have shown that despite it being a very large drug molecule, it is able to pass through the cell membrane. To this end, winning a place on the EMBO 'Current methods of Cell Biology' course in Heidelberg, Germany last year has been very helpful and I am very thankful for my SCI scholarship for funding this.

‘Over the last year, I also have been able to present my research at the Protein Society annual symposium in Boston, Massachusetts and the 7th EuCheMS Chemistry Congress in Liverpool. I am also submitting my first ‘First-author’ publication of my PhD and I have also contributed to a patent forming the foundation of a company which has attracted £3.5 million of seed funding.

‘Outside of the lab, I have enjoyed being a Soapbox Science speaker, where I spoke about my research at the strawberry fair here in Cambridge to promote the visibility of women in science. I have also worked with the outreach team here at Cambridge in order to inform students from disadvantaged backgrounds about what it’s like to do a science degree and also gained the opportunity to host the very popular @iamscicomm twitter channel where I worked to promote equality for scientists with disabilities and long-term health conditions.

‘The SCI scholarship has been helpful in not only in terms of funding but also through the opportunities it has given me to meet such a bunch of talented and interesting people. I immensely enjoyed attending the annual general meeting and the SCI college of scholars’ days and receiving advice and guidance from various SCI members. It was also a pleasure to promote the SCIdea competition in the Chemistry department here at Cambridge, which also allowed me to meet new people at my own university! The scholarship has also provided me with much needed funds to upgrade my incredibly slow laptop, which has certainly boost my productivity.

‘The next year will be a big one as I will be writing and submitting my PhD, and starting a post-doc. I am very excited for the new challenges and learning experiences that lie ahead!’

Sarah Madden
PhD Student
University of Cambridge

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