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Institute welcomes Sêr Cymru Research Fellows

25 October 2016

Hand holding two test tubes

The Sêr Cymru II Fellowship Scheme is a postdoctoral fellowship scheme aimed at expanding Wales’ research capacity by attracting and developing the next generation of talented researchers in Wales. It provides three-year fixed-term postdoctoral level appointments, and is designed to encourage excellent candidates from anywhere in the world to come to work in Wales.The scheme is backed by nearly £23m of European funds and £16m from the Welsh Government.

Under the Sêr Cymru programme, the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute has been able to take on two new Research Fellows – Dr Helen Pearson and Dr Geraint Parfitt, who are sponsored by Dr Richard Clarkson and Dr Matt Smalley respectively.

Dr Helen Pearson is no stranger to Cardiff. Following a BSc from the University of East Anglia, she completed her PhD at Cardiff University before undertaking post-doctoral training at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Australia. In 2012, Dr Pearson became an honorary fellow of Melbourne University and the inaugural Richard Pratt Foundation Fellow for prostate cancer research.

Explaining her decision to return to Cardiff, Dr Pearson said,

“The Sêr Cymru II Fellowship will enable me to establish my own research laboratory investigating the molecular mechanisms that underpin prostate cancer and therapeutic resistance. Using innovative in-vitro, in-vivo and ex-vivo model systems, my research into prostate cancer integrates basic molecular and cellular biology with pre-clinical trials to advance our understanding of prostate cancer biology, improve personalised cancer medicine and translate laboratory studies into improvements in patient care.”

Dr Pearson’s fellowship is also part of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) COFUND scheme.

Dr Geraint Parfitt is also a Cardiff University alum, having gained his PhD at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences. He has since worked as an ARVO Foundation Post-doctoral Fellow at the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, University of California where he gained experience in 3D microscopy. This led to his development of immunofluorescence tomography, which enables unprecedented views of fixed tissues.

As a Sêr Cymru Research Fellow, Dr Parfitt will divide his time between the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences and the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute.

Dr Parfitt explained the focus of his research.

“Working with Dr Matt Smalley, my research will focus on the slow-cycling epithelial stem cells of the ocular surface using advanced 3-D imaging and next-generation sequencing. My aim is to characterise ocular surface adult stem cells and determine their potential for tissue regeneration and transplantation, or as a therapeutic agents to treat conditions which cause corneal blindness.”

Dr Matt Smalley, Deputy Director of the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute said

“I am delighted to welcome Dr Pearson and Dr Parfitt to the Institute. They are both talented researchers and I am sure they will be a valuable addition to our growing team.

I am also grateful to the Sêr Cymru II Fellowship Scheme. Funding programmes such as this make it possible for us to continue and expand upon our innovative research into stem cells, moving us ever closer to our ultimate aim of developing new therapies that make a real difference to the lives of cancer patients.”

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