The Sydney Vital Flagship Fellow scheme gives emerging researchers the opportunity to develop their own research program over a period of twelve months, with mentorship from leaders in translational cancer research and access to Sydney Vital’s research infrastructure. We wanted to check in with some of our former fellows and see where they have taken their research careers since the fellowship.
Dr Wei Deng has come far since her fellowship with Sydney Vital. The nano-oncology researcher was the 2017-2018 Flagship 3 fellow, where she worked with flagship leaders Prof Alexander Engel, Prof Ewa Goldys and Prof Zdenka Kuncic.
Since then, Wei has received multiple awards and grants, including a CINSW Career Development fellowship, an NHMRC Ideas Grant and a NFMRI project grant. She is now a Senior Lecturer of Engineering at the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering at UNSW and leads a drug delivery program with five team members.
The fellowship, which she says helped her consolidate her research capabilities, also introduced her to many senior researchers.
“The most important things I learned during my fellowship were how to develop collaborations with medical researchers and clinicians and to actively engage with and grow my professional network,” she says.
In the years since the fellowship, Wei’s list of accomplishments has grown – she was even a co-founder of a startup company, RadioDynamic Therapeutics Inc., last year – but one thing stands out to her particularly.
“The biggest success in my career to date has been to build up and manage my own research group as an independent researcher,” she asserts.
“I believe that ultimately, my achievements in the fellowship have allowed me to succeed in this, as well as in securing nationally competitive funds for my research, which focuses on finding new therapeutic options for the treatment of rectal cancer.
“I would like to say a big thank you to Sydney Vital for supporting my research through the fellowship program.”