Jesse Peterson – MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

I applied for the LifeArc AUTM Fellowship while working full time as a postdoctoral scientist at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB). Prior to moving to England, I completed my graduate training in the US.

The programme appealed to me as I wanted to take a more direct role in facilitating the transfer of exciting bench findings to the clinic. I was familiar with LifeArc as they handle commercialisation at the LMB and maintain a presence on campus, and the fellowship represented a unique opportunity to learn about life as a technology transfer professional.

Rare opportunity

I honestly did not know what to expect as there are few opportunities for this kind of training within the normal academic scientist track. The programme has really impressed me with the quality and breadth of the training, the extensive feedback and one-on-one mentoring, and the opportunity to build an international professional network.

Starting essentially from scratch, I have learned the essential concepts in the technology transfer process, and I feel comfortable speaking with people in the field despite having little on-the-job experience. This awareness along with the extensive career guidance from Anji and Francois-Xavier at LifeArc has helped to shape the scope of my job search and longer-term career goals.

Attending the AUTM Essentials training course in Chicago was a highlight as it offered the chance to finally meet with the wonderful group of people in my cohort. As a novice in the field, the attention we received as Fellows was a bit overwhelming at first, but the AUTM community was universally welcoming and supportive.

In our case, the COVID-19 epidemic resulted in an extension of the fellowship in order that we might experience the full training course. This has been helpful as my job search will undoubtedly take longer than expected while employers have been cutting back on or freezing their hiring entirely.

Next steps

Finding that first position is of course my main goal, but in the process, I hope to use this time and training to identify those aspects of knowledge exchange that I feel suit my background and interests.

I would really like to recommend this programme to bench scientists who might have little or no practical experience with knowledge exchange beyond their own interest. It felt intimidating at first coming straight from the bench, but the staff at LifeArc and AUTM are very skilled at tailoring the training to all levels of experience.

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