Global Scholar-in-Training Program Seeks Next Class of Awardees
For the past three years, cohorts of talented young researchers from around the world have participated in the AACR Annual Meeting through the Global Scholar-in-Training (GSITA) Awards program. The program is currently accepting applications for the fourth class of GSITA awardees. The 2022 GSITA awardees will be invited to attend the AACR Annual Meeting 2022, scheduled for April 8-13, 2022, in New Orleans.
GSITA awardees are selected through a rigorous, peer-reviewed process. The 2021 scholars, representing Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa, were chosen for their outstanding promise as early-career researchers, with the hope that they would apply the education and inspiration they received from the meeting to their work in their home countries.
Despite the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 class of GSITA awardees embraced the opportunity to share their knowledge and draw upon the global brain trust of cancer scientists who attended the meeting virtually. The AACR hosted four virtual engagement opportunities for awardees: a Flash Presentation Poster Session, where each awardee introduced themselves and their work as a teaser to their poster presentation later during the Annual Meeting; an alumni gathering of previous GSITA awardees, a Career Development Session featuring advice from cancer research experts from around the world; and a Slack Workgroup for attendees to use throughout the conference. They also participated in a virtual networking and mentoring event hosted by the AACR.
As scholars around the world finish up their applications, several of this past year’s awardees shared their thoughts on how their experience helped prepare them for the next stage in their career.
Adeleye Adeshakin, PhD, Nigeria: My attendance at the AACR Annual Meeting 2021 as a GSITA provided me a great opportunity to learn from renowned scientists across the globe as I prepared for my next career move following the completion of my PhD training in China. During the meeting, the career roundtable sessions were very insightful as they helped me clarify pertinent questions I have as a young investigator. These included transitioning from low-resource countries to high-resource countries; networking and collaboration in science; winning competitive research grants and learning about various grants available to researchers from low-middle income countries; publishing in high impact factor journals; and maintaining work-life balance as an early-career scientist.
During the GSITA program, I learned that an important part of postdoctoral training is how an institution helps foster a fellow’s development. I also learned the value of doing research that enables crosstalk between basic researchers and the clinic. I’m glad and very grateful to the AACR for the GSITA opportunity; this knowledge I acquired has prepared me for my current postdoctoral position at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee.
Ajayi Babajide Oluwaseun, PhD, Nigeria: My attendance at the AACR Annual Meeting 2021 helped me see a pathway to become successful in cancer research. I have been educated on how to do high-impact, innovative research aimed at life-changing discoveries to prevent cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients. This will guide me toward achieving my dream of having a world where there will be no more cancer.
Alin Garcia Miranda, Mexico: This meeting was amazing—I didn´t realize how much I would learn. I hope in the future to do postdoctoral research and the GSITA program helped me know what I need to do to be a good candidate. All the presentations I attended were interesting and strengthened my awareness of numerous areas, such as onco-immunology. The meeting allowed me to make connections with great researchers with whom I can work in the future. My experience at the AACR Annual Meeting represented a new step in my career, showing me that I can participate in research on a global stage. I know that this opportunity will open more doors for me in the future.
Kezhong Chen, MD, China: My attendance at the AACR Annual Meeting was an excellent experience that will play an important role in my research and career path. Comments and suggestions from senior researchers and GSITA awardees helped me to modify the discussion section of my research and improved its value very much. Also, the research I learned about sparked significant ideas for my own work, including some new ideas on clinical trial design.
Furthermore, this experience offered me an opportunity to meet many early-career physicians/researchers and experts all over the world; we may find ways to launch multicenter studies in the future. Finally, I have shared my experience through the official WeChat accounts of our department and in my personal WeChat, helping me increase my professional influence.
Mariam Fouad, PhD, Egypt: The AACR Annual Meeting 2021 was special to me. Its timing coincided with starting my postdoctoral training in the Karanicolas laboratory at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. I was determined to attend all the sessions concerned with my project on renal cell carcinoma. As a GSITA awardee, I was able to attend a talk by Nobel Laureate William Kaelin, MD, FAACR, a top contributor in the field of renal cancer research, whose career I find very inspiring. I learned his insights into anticancer target validation through designing “up assays”—which in turn helped me redesign some of my own experiments at Fox Chase.
GSITA’s continuous engagement on Slack motivated me to keep myself updated and ready for their special events on career advancement. Receiving the GSITA award removed the financial burden of me attending this cutting-edge conference in cancer research, especially at a critical time in my career as I was transitioning from Egypt to the U.S.
Marcela Teatin Latancia, Brazil: Lectures and seminars in the first week of the Annual Meeting helped inspire me to apply some of the research discussed to my current project. I hope to use what I learned at the meeting to obtain interesting and novel results. My participation helped me feel more up to date in my field and better prepared to discuss advanced research topics.
The second week of the event was really awesome because we could discuss daily life in science. I received some very good advice, especially during the GSITA Professional Development Session and the AACR Membership session called “Communicating Your Science as a Cancer Researcher.” When I began the AACR meeting, I was a PhD student, and I treasured the advice I received at these events. One highlight of the meeting was when a professor from St. Louis found my work through the e-posters page and invited me to do postdoctoral work with him. It’s great to see that other people can also value my work. This also showed me how important it is to pursue good networking.
In my home country, research funding is diminishing every year. This makes this award even more important for me, and it will be just as important for other new researchers. I have shared these thoughts with some colleagues who were not very familiar with the AACR Annual Meeting, and they were fascinated. I am sure that they will apply every year from now on, as I do since 2017, when I went to my first AACR meeting here in São Paulo!
More information on the 2021 GSITA recipients is available on the AACR website. Application information for the 2022 GSITA program is available here. If you are interested in funding a Global Scholar-in-Training award, please contact [email protected].