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The 2018 award winners from left to right (above): Ishna Mistry (1st place oral), Edward Ottley (1st place poster), Joshua Owen (2nd place oral), Edward O’Neill (best graphical abstract), Giuliana De Gregoriis (networking prize). Abhay Singh was the winner of the 2nd place poster prize (not pictured).

On Friday, 18th May the postdocs of the Department of Oncology met for their 6th Annual Away Day. The event was organised by the Oncology Postdoc Network Committee (OPN) and for the third year running, the event was held at the Oxford Martin School in the heart of Oxford on Broad Street.  The Department of Oncology is located in various buildings in Headington and the Away Day provides a fantastic opportunity for the postdocs to meet up.

The day provides an amazing networking opportunity for postdocs and is a unique chance to showcase recent work and facilitates the development of a collaborative atmosphere in the Department.  A strong emphasis on professional development was included and this was through talks on career opportunities and inspirational keynote speakers.

This year the event was attended by over 70 postdocs, researchers and members of the Core Facilities from across the Department, making it one of the largest events to date.

Postdocs were encouraged to create graphical masterpieces as abstracts for this event and the Committee was overwhelmed with over 20 high quality entries. Six of the best submissions were selected to give oral presentations and the remainder presented posters throughout the day. The Committee awarded prizes for the outstanding abstract, oral and poster presentations.

This year we had a real pleasure to welcome Dr Ben Goldacre as the keynote lecturer.  His enthusiastic and passionate talk did more to wake up the audience than any amount of coffee!  On a more professional note, his comments on the ethics of accurately and timely reporting of trial results will surely have a positive influence on the careers of those present.

Once again, we were very lucky to be joined by Dr Rachel Bray. Rachel is the Careers Adviser for Researchers in Oxford and this year she not only delivered a very well received talk “Change of Scenery? Making the most of your Careers Service - tips on progression and top resources” she also met with individual postdocs. From the feedback received, everyone felt a little more reassured in their career trajectory (or lack thereof!) than they did before.

We were also pleased to welcome back 2 postdoctoral researchers that previously worked in the Department of Oncology to join us in a discussion about their move from academia to industry. Dr Greg Dobrynin and Dr Cristina Marculescu left the department in 2017 and now work in Immunocore Ltd in Oxford. In this panel discussion, Greg and Cristina took questions from members of the audience regarding their move and answered all questions openly and honestly. Greg and Cristina had two very different experiences and it was very refreshing to hear two different sides as well as catching up with them both. 

After a day packed full of scientific talks, careers guidance and an opportunity to win a year’s supply of sweets by simply talking to people; the final talk was delivered by Prof. Constantin Coussios. Constantin had started as an academic at the University, than he quickly became a founder of OrganOx and co-founder of OxSonics. He spoke about his experiences of building a business and the lifesaving technology he has developed throughout his career. His talk received lots of positive comments as it provided an inspirational message at the end of the day.

We are very grateful to all of our speakers that were able to attend.  This event would not have been possible without funding support from our sponsors: Starstedt, Cambridge Biosciences and Thermo Fisher.