Global Early Career Researchers Challengers
By: Dr. Aisah Aubdool
Challenges/advice to other ECRs: I’ve had many role models including my PhD supervisor and Professor Adrian Hobbs’ who inspired me to pursue a career in academia. I have been fortunate to work in some amazing cardiovascular groups consisting of both non-clinical and clinical pharmacologists. This has enabled me to gain valuable research experience and shape my decision to plan both my projects and career path. There are currently many challenges we are facing as ECRs, namely uncertainties in terms of career progression and funding. My advice to all ECRs will be:
- Find an area of research that interest you the most and try to establish efficient collaborations between disciplines. Don’t be stressed or be disheartened by a rejection for a manuscript submission and/or a grant funding. Do seek support and advice on how to address your reviewers’ comments. Give yourself enough time to prepare both the pilot findings and the application as it is a long process.
- Mentoring is very important, especially for ECRs. There are various ways/schemes to find a mentor who can support and guide you for your next step or overall in your career. Connect and work closely with your local pharmacological societies as much as you can, as it can be very fruitful for your career.
- Networking can be very rewarding and beneficial in establishing collaborations for your research. There are various ways to network such as getting involved with your local pharmacological society to increase the awareness of pharmacology, attending and/or organising online seminars & local/international conferences. Attending the World Laureates Forum 2021 was a great opportunity for me to network with Nobel Laureates, talking about my own research, seeking career & research advice as well as making new connections in the cardiovascular field of research.
Reflection as Chair of IUPHAR ECR Committee: I initially joined the IUPHAR ECR committee as Vice-Chair in 2016, supporting Dr Carl White (ex Chair). We successfully set up the inaugural group of early career pharmacologists around the world (11 countries), under the mentorship of Professor Michael Spedding and Professor Ingolf Cascordi. It was very exciting to work with the team as we aimed to increase the awareness of pharmacology worldwide. Getting ECRs involved with both their local pharmacological societies and IUPHAR is very important for the Future of Pharmacology. During the first two years, our work concentrated mostly on (1) advocating for ECRs, (2) facilitating cross society interactions of ECRs and (3) providing advice on social media activities and matters concerning ECRs to the IUPHAR executive committee.
More recently, in my role as Chair of the IUPHAR ECR Committee we have been promoting and developing activities for ECRs. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the career progression of many ECRs worldwide. We are currently identifying the struggles ECRs face in academia, both pre- and post-COVID19 pandemic. Moreover, we have been organising online seminar series (project led by Dr Makhotso Lekhooa, South Africa) which has enabled us to form an engaging network of ECRs worldwide. To be able to interact with the current IUPHAR ECR members, we have introduced a ‘Biosketch’ (project led by Dr Cristina Perez-Ternero, Spain) where we interview each ECR member about their career path, achievement, challenges and future plan. This piece of work has previously been published in Pharmacology International and now in IUPHAR News. The IUPHAR ECR Committee is also participating in planning the ECR activities and fundraising for the World Congress of Pharmacology 2023. This is an exciting time and the committee looks forward to working very closely with the IUPHAR executive committee and sub-committees to set defined objectives and guidelines for the ECR Committee, tackling issues facing ECRs worldwide. As an ECR, if you have a passion for pharmacology and you are already working with your local pharmacological society, please do consider joining the IUPHAR ECR Committee.