UCL is part of UCLPartners, the largest academic health science centre in the world. UCL’s academic institutes are closely associated in their work with London partner hospitals such as Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery. London is also home to important organisations such as the Wellcome Trust and Francis Crick Biomedical Research Institute. See how our students have benefited from UCL’s central London location and the city’s rich resources and networks.
Studying in London, at UCL, allows me to continue training and working in world-class clinical centres while staying near to family and friends. I have been able to take blended e-Learning modules across the university, while working as a junior doctor at King’s College Hospital.
London is a major hub for research, as well as technology enterprise, and this has allowed me to meet and network with successful researchers and entrepreneurs to learn from their experiences.
I have improved my leadership skills as a UCLU Student Academic Representative (StAR) and was able to work on a successful UCL ChangeMakers project, which involved co-planning an education conference. The afternoon conference aimed at improving the way postgraduate education is delivered in the healthcare context, bringing together NHS and academic leaders.
In addition to this I also attended entrepreneurship programmes and sessions at UCL Enterprise and Innovation. This proved invaluable as I gained business skills training and met the co-founders of my early stage start-up, which is currently in development.
Be open minded and say yes only to things you find interesting. Put yourself out there early in order to benefit from the many opportunities that exist. Take breaks and explore the museums, parks and markets across the city. Keep in touch with friends and family as that support system will keep you grounded and happy.
Harnessing UCL’s strength across academic disciplines
Trekstock, Lauren Hyden
I did my dissertation in a molecular biology field that combined nutrition and cancer. I worked in the UCL Institute for Liver and Digestive Health laboratories and worked closely with colleagues from many disciplines. My department was very supportive and I met people in the field of nutrition from so many different backgrounds.
I used UCL Careers to get my CV up-to-date and to help with interview techniques. I also utilised the Rights and Advice Service quite a lot for information on visas. I am now the Health Programmes Manager at Trekstock, a cancer charity for young adults, and studying in London definitely opened this position for me. Join social clubs, find a volunteer opportunity early on in your programme before things start to get too busy, take advantage of the number of brilliant people around you!
The MSc Global Health & Development at UCL relies on a multidisciplinary curricular approach. The value of studying in London is diversity. While this may seem clichéd, it came to life in the classroom. For example, when learning about the HIV epidemic in Africa, we had several classmates from different African countries who told of their experiences on-the-ground. Often, these anecdotes served as real-world applications of the concepts taught and brought to life the human experience of dealing with infectious diseases in remote and under-served settings.
To better understand the nuances of public engagement with health, I was also able to draw upon my visits to the exhibitions of the Wellcome Trust. The Wellcome Trust features various immersive and visual experiences to educate the public on broad topics of health and medicine. There are many events, networking opportunities, museum exhibitions, and the like that pertain to your degree - do as much as you can, see as much as you can, and learn as much as you can. It pays dividends when you see the full picture of your learning.
I work for the Association of American Medical Colleges, based in Washington, D.C. Though I attained the position prior to UCL, my new MSc degree contributed to a recent promotion.
Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Chinemelu Ezeh
For my research in designing smart wheelchairs, UCL has given me the opportunity to collaborate with the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and Aspire, a charity. This is an enormously beneficial opportunity as my research is being guided by inputs from clinical personnel and patients from these organisations.
Also, I have had the privilege of conducting experiments at one of UCL's state of the art laboratories, the Pedestrian Accessibility and Mobility Environment Laboratory (PAMELA). I received support from Accessibility Research Group (ARG) and the Institute of Orthopaedics (IOMS). ARG helped me setup and conduct my experiments at PAMELA and IOMS helped me design the experiment protocols.
I would recommend that students speak with as many people as they can about what they do. London is filled with so many opportunities and people are the gatekeepers of opportunities.
UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, Fatima Al-Khelaifi
Working on a collaborative research project at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health gave me the chance to experience different approaches in my field and compare my own work with what others are doing. I have been exposed to advanced techniques with smart tricks that help me to get more accurate results.
I also had the opportunity to meet experts who I had read about a lot but would never otherwise have been able to meet. This was an excellent opportunity to explain my work to them and ask them to participate in collaborative research. It is exciting to learn from such senior and successful talents. Communicating with them and learning from them proved the opportunity of a lifetime.
Thanks to the opportunity to conduct primary data collection as a part of my Master’s research, I proposed a collaborative exploration between the Lepra organisation and UCL. Following ethical clearance, I spent 1 month in Bangladesh during which time I was facilitated by both parties to investigate the often overlooked psychosocial impact of leprosy-related disability amongst persons affected by the condition in the Sirajganj region. Support from the Institute of Global Health included provision of a £500 travel bursary (the Dr Keith Thomson fund) to support international travel for research amongst high-performing students.
I’d recommend that students hit the ground running both in research projects and as new students: sort out the logistical matters prior to your arrival - from accommodation to the nearest supermarket to how to travel around. Then you can start saying 'yes' to every social and professional opportunity from your very first day at UCL. I am now a Press Officer at the Anna Freud Centre.
Medical Research Council (MRC), Citlali Helenes Gonzalez
The aim of my PhD project is to produce a 3D neural model using human neural stem cells and biopolymers by using a technique called Bio-electrospray. Developing improved 3D in vitro models helps us to better mimic the in vivo situation and understand how human central nervous system development and function is affected by an insult, such as teratogen or anoxia.
I am based at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, our laboratory is focused on stem cells and regenerative medicine and we collaborate with the MRC-Wellcome Trust Human Developmental Biology Resource and the Great Ormond Street Hospital to obtain human tissue. At the same time, in order to construct a 3D scaffold I work in collaboration with Mechanical Engineering where I work with Bio-electrospray technology.
During my degree I did a placement at St George’s NHS Foundation Trust. Here I shadowed an independent pharmacist prescriber who worked in the HIV clinic. This had a major impact on me and changed the way I think about the role of a pharmacist.
The pharmacist explained the disease, investigation result and the reason and way of taking the medicine. The pharmacist then discussed the treatment with the patient, giving him the best advice on his treatment according to the patient’s preference and individual clinical condition. This impressed me a lot as this approach has not been implemented yet in my country (Taiwan). I have never thought that a pharmacist can do so much for a patient. It was a great experience, which give me more ideas about what I can do in my future practice.
For my clinical research I have been lucky to work across disciplines - I'm based in the Institute for Women’s Health, yet I have done most of my work within a basic sciences urine infection group in the Division of Medicine. I've had most of my supervision as collaborations between these different people, which has been incredibly fruitful for all of us.
Another huge benefit has been the Doctoral Skills Development Programme. Among the highlights have been a course in interviewing for the radio, run by BBC experts, and a science writing internship for BioNews, a digest of science in genetics and fertility. This has led to an ongoing role as Volunteer Writer for BioNews.
Working in the UK’s flagship biomedical discovery institute
Francis Crick, Chloe Moss
Conducting my PhD in London gives me access to a huge network of the world’s best scientists, courses and conferences, with scientists from across the world coming to talk at UCL. I am based in the Francis Crick Institute, the UK’s flagship biomedical discovery institute. UCL is a founding partner and the Bloomsbury campus is a five minute walk away.
My project focuses on mitochondrial DNA, an often forgotten vital piece of genetic information, which we inherit from our mothers. The mechanisms of mitochondrial DNA replication and repair are both complex and unique and there are many aspects which are still not fully understood. By elucidating these mechanisms and learning more about mitochondrial DNA metabolism we can help better understand the role these processes play in mitochondrial diseases and ageing.
Last year I attended the MiPschool at UCL, which was focused around the principles of mitochondrial biology, metabolism and bioenergetics in health and disease. It was a fantastic event organised by the UCL Consortium for Mitochondrial Research (UCL CfMR), where we were able to hear about a wide range of research from across the globe, as well as novel techniques at the forefront of mitochondrial research.
Read the newsletters you get sent from your student representatives and departments. They always have great courses, talks, social events and opportunities to take your work to new places. You just have to go for it. And most of the time the events are free or have funding available. In the 'real world' not many fantastic opportunities are presented to you so freely, so make the most of it!
These case studies reflect the experience and opinion of the individual concerned and are provided to give a general illustration of some benefits that may be available to UCL graduate students. The actual opportunities available will depend on what is available at any given time and will vary between students, faculties and departments. These experiences should not necessarily be considered as representative of opportunities for all UCL students and not all activity mentioned forms a part of any taught syllabus or was organised through UCL.