The MSc in Radiation Biology is in its 12th year. It has been designed to equip students with the scientific knowledge and understanding of the field, along with technical and critical assessment skills to become academics and clinical scientists of the future. Previous students have continued in academic research (59%), medicine (31%), the commercial sector (7%) and teaching (2%).
Collin Larkin (2019)
After graduating with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rochester in the United States I joined the MSc Radiation Biology course in 2018. I found my time at Oxford to be a perfect gap year between undergraduate studies and starting Medical School. For one academic year I was able to study medical sciences which is just not an option at home in the USA. I found that being in Oxford with some of the biggest names in Oncology was a truly amazing experience. I found the course itself to be great as it builds on fundamental biological and physical principles to teach students about radiobiology. The research component worked out well for me as two of my passions are medicine and computer science and I was able to combine them (for my dissertation) by working in the lab of Prof Buffa. While I was in Oxford I played rugby and rowed for my college which opened up a whole new social network for me within the University and I strongly recommend that all students on the course get involved in college sports and social events. I am now pursuing a degree in Medicine at North Western University, USA.
James Coates (2016)
I completed my undergraduate degree in Chemical & Biomedical Engineering at McGill and chose to study the MSc in Radiation Biology because of the breadth of course work and the diversity of topics. The MSc allowed me to quickly gain a deep level of knowledge required to complete research in radiation oncology without penalising me for coming from a more analytical background. During the course, I was continually captivated by the complexity of the topics being taught, the clarity of the instruction, and the support from the department. Each topic was expertly taught by a pioneer in the respective discipline and instructors were able to aptly respond to any queries that arose. The coursework is broad and the research module allows individuals to focus their attention on topics that interest them the most, albeit computational or experimental in nature. Aside from learning the course material, the course helped me to think critically and to manage my time. My advice for anyone considering applying for the MSc in Radiation Biology is to recognise that the field is incredibly broad, and that some topics taught on the course may be of much interest while others less so — when I look back I recognise that the course provided me with an invaluable foundation, allowing me to stay at the vanguard of novel scientific developments. I am in the final stages of completing my DPhil in Radiobiology at Oxford.
Catherine Koch (2015)
My first degree was in Biology from MIT, USA. During my last year at MIT I received a Marshall scholarship to study at Oxford for a year and I chose to apply to the MSc in Radiation Biology course. I was attracted to the course because I had not had much exposure to radiation biology and was very interested in it because radiation is a huge component of treatment for many cancer patients. Gaining an understanding of the inner workings of radiation-based therapies, from the technical aspects of radiation sources all the way to the molecular effects was an incredible experience for me. While my current PhD thesis work has shifted towards tumour immunology, exposure to this field has helped to shape how I think about questions, as well as what kinds of questions I would like to explore in the future as a physician scientist. I believe there is great therapeutic potential in identifying ways to combine existing radiotherapies with recently developed therapies, perhaps even immunotherapies. I absolutely loved being at Oxford and thought it was a truly magical place! I loved attending formal halls and other events at my college but also loved just wandering around the city centre. My primary extracurricular activity was ice hockey and I had the privilege of playing on both the men’s and women’s blues ice hockey teams However, what I enjoyed the very most was the people I met and the friendships I made. I am currently an MD-PhD student at Harvard and MIT.
Neele Drobnitzky (2012)
I joined the MSc in Radiation Biology course in 2011 having received a first class BSc in Molecular Medicine from the University of Tuebingen, Germany. I graduated from the MSc Radiation Biology course in 2012 with a distinction. During my MSc research placement I studied RET inhibitors in Medullary Thyroid cancer. I was awarded an MRC scholarship to continue to work in Professor Anderson Ryan’s lab as a student on the DPhil in Radiobiology investigating EGFR-TKI resistance in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. During my time on the DPhil I presented my work as both posters and talks at a number of national and international conferences. I collaborated with a number of other groups in the Department of Oncology, resulting in impact publications. During my DPhil studies I was awarded MRC DTP supplementary funding for advanced in vivo imaging as well as the Sarah and Nadine Pole Scholarship and a travel award from Trinity College, Oxford. I graduated from Oxford with my DPhil in Radiobiology in 2018.
I am now working in the Target Validation Group at Immunocore Ltd where my work involves validating and optimising antibody staining for IHC for oncology targets of the Immunocore pipeline so that they can be used in clinical assays for patient selection for Immunocore drugs. In my work I benefit a lot from the practical and theoretical knowledge on a broad range of techniques and the field of oncology that I acquired during my DPhil at the Department of Oncology.
Zachary Guss (2012)
I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology at Harvard University and then entered the MD program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Throughout my preclinical and early clinical years I became drawn to oncology in general and radiation oncology in particular. To gain further understanding of the scientific basis for my chosen specialty, and to determine how I could best contribute to the field, I applied to the MSc in Radiation Biology. I was impressed by the prominence of the radiation biology faculty, the structure of the course, and of course, the allure of Oxford. I was fortunate to be awarded the Clarendonship Scholarship which funded my studies. The written assignments were my favorite component of the taught component of the MSc in Radiation Biology. After three years of medical school, in which so much effort is required to absorb knowledge as quickly as possible, it was a luxury to dive into the body of literature on a radiobiology subject, all the while discussing these issues with thought leaders across the spectrum of scientific and clinical radiation oncology research. For my thesis, I worked under the mentorship of Prof Bleddyn Jones and Dr. Mark Hill to study classical radiobiology and the interplay of linear energy transfer, relative biological effectiveness, the oxygen enhancement ratio, and their practical applications in the clinic. Upon my completion of the MSc, I returned to Johns Hopkins where I received my MD and completed a clinical residency in radiation oncology. The knowledge gained in the MSc served as an excellent scaffold for the clinical expertise I gained in residency. While a resident, I remained active in research and even published a manuscript with my MSc classmate, Dr. Abdossalam Madkhali. It was a true transatlantic collaboration.
Oxford has unparalleled opportunities for graduate students from participating in intramural sports at Keble College to formals and balls, I enjoyed all aspects of life at Oxford. I made many lasting friendships within the radiation biology course as well as in my college and beyond.
I am currently a Clinical Radiation Oncologist in Spokane, Washington, USA, where I remain active in clinical research and teaching.
Monica Olcina (2010)
Originally from Spain, I was awarded a first class degree in Pharmacy from the University of Manchester. I was admitted to the four year DPhil in Radiobiology, which includes the MSc in Radiation Biology in the first year, and was awarded a four year MRC scholarship from the Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology. I obtained a distinction in my MSc in 2010 and then started my DPhil project in the laboratory of Associate Professor Ester Hammond immediately after. My research was well received and I generated five publications on the effects of hypoxia and DNA damage in cancer research in journals such as Cell Cycle, Molecular Cell and Clinical Cancer Research. My research excellence was recognised by an MRC Centenary Early Career Award, numerous travel awards and poster presentation prizes.
I graduated from Oxford with my DPhil in Radiobiology in 2014 and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Radiation Oncology at Stanford University, USA before returning to the MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology as an MRC Junior Investigator.