Egon Jacobus (2014-2018)
Project: The dual influence of tumour hypoxia on the activity of a group B oncolytic adenovirus
Supervisor: Prof. Len Seymour
I graduated from the University of Braunschweig (Germany) as a biotechnologist, where I majored in applied animal cell biology. My undergraduate thesis project at the Max-Delbrück Centre in Berlin motivated me to pursue a career in molecular medicine. I then decided to focus on the interdisciplinary field of cancer, due to the opportunity to conduct impactful translational research. I joined the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) in Heidelberg for my master’s, which was a stepping-stone to gain experience through laboratory placements, namely in oncolytic virotherapy at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (Canada) and in gene and cell therapy at the Mayo Clinic (USA).
Thanks to an interinstitutional scholarship sponsored by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Cancer Research UK (CRUK), I commenced my doctoral studies in 2014 in Len Seymour’s laboratory (Oncology Department, University of Oxford), focusing on the improvement of adenoviral platforms to target the tumour microenvironment. While studying the effects of tumour hypoxia on the activity of oncolytic adenovirus, I delved further into basic virology with a translational perspective.
The MRC was present throughout my studies in Oxford. Firstly, by covering university and college fees and contributing towards my laboratory consumables and attendance of international conferences. With the support of the MRC, I also gained insights into the entrepreneurial world of biotechnology by participating in the Biotechnology YES competition organised by the University of Nottingham and GSK. The MRC symposia gave me a great platform to showcase my science in the last years of my DPhil before presenting at international conferences. Finally, I am grateful to the MRC for awarding me the MRC supplementary funding to facilitate the transition into my first postdoctoral position. This allowed me to show full scientific independence by completing a scientific project, leading to senior authorship earlier this year. I would encourage future students to capitalise on the stimulating environment at the University of Oxford and on the opportunities offered by the MRC.