Because it’s World TB Day I’d like to share my story on how I started with TB research and what it has brought so far. Especially on this day I realise the implications of our work and how important it is to study a disease which has such a huge impact on health care systems worldwide.
When I started out as a PhD candidate in 2012, the thought of being part of a big European consortium was appealing. PreDiCT-TB, with 21 different high-impact scientific groups across Europe, had a very nice ring to it for me as a scientist at the beginning of my career and provided me with the chance to work together with brilliant wide range of researchers in the field of tuberculosis research. After the first annual assembly meeting, I realised that there is a huge potential advantage to being part of a consortium. Practically, these yearly meetings provided me the opportunity, not only to share my work (providing a strong scientific benefit and input into the project), but also allowed me to build a network of TB scientists abroad (providing a huge social benefit too!). Although stating the obvious, I think this accelerated my awareness of emerging scientific knowledge, but also allowed me to form active collaborations and gave me a chance to interact with peers on a deeper level.
Being part of PreDiCT-TB and the wider TB community offered me a lot of different opportunities to develop myself as a young scientist. One of these aspects included attending workshops that form a bridge between fundamental science that occurs in academia and the more applied knowledge that is utilized in pharmaceutical companies (usually hosted by a pharmaceutical company). As such, I was given the opportunity to join a workshop on applications of PK/PD modeling at GlaxoSmithKline in Tres Cantos, Spain; a great addition to my understanding of drug discovery. Moreover, with references and support from within PreDiCT-TB, I was able to join two European EMTRAIN (http://www.emtrain.eu/) workshops at Janssen pharmaceuticals, as well as co-organizing a workshop at Bayer pharmaceuticals. Both instances taught me a great deal of knowledge on the interplay between academia and pharmaceutical medicine as well as educating mein, among many other fields, drug discovery, immunology, microbiology, ethics and chemistry.
As I joined the annual assembly meetings of PreDiCT-TB every year, I also got involved in the communications sub-team of the consortium. The team, focusing on the spread of knowledge generated within the consortium to members within the consortium and to the outside world, has managed to organize output of the work in a comprehensive manner via social media platforms, such as Twitter and the consortium’s own website (www.predict-tb.eu). In doing so, I learned a great deal on “the catch” or the wording used to draw a reader in to “click through” on a tweet, spreading key publications, sharing info graphics and effectively communicating to a bigger (non-scientific) audience. Moreover, the yearly World TB day offered the team the exercise of organizing and gathering the input of enthusiastic researchers with complicated data and to share it with a wider lay audience.
In summary, I think this PhD project within PreDiCT-TB has brought me a lot more than just science. It was a huge adventure scientifically, yes, but pushing the borders of academia and the pharmaceutical industry, the interactions with others groups and international orientation provided me with a far larger framework than I could have imagined beforehand. Now, and because of this experience, I think I’m ready for a postdoctoral adventure overseas and I’m very grateful for the time I’ve had among the intelligent and talented people I’ve met within the consortium.
– Maikel Boot