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Greetings from the newly renamed Early Career Pharmacologists Advisory Group (ECPAG)

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Published: 20 Mar 2019
Category: Early career pharmacologists
By Aidan Seeley, Laura Ajram

Our new name is not the only change, as Dr Aidan Seeley begins his term as Chair of ECPAG. Previously, Aidan was the Trustee (Early Career Pharmacologist) on Council. Aidan and ECPAG would like to extend their thanks to our previous Chair, Professor Clare Stanford, for her hard work, enthusiasm and experience during her time as Chair of ECPAG.

Our newly Elected Trustee (Early Career Pharmacologist) was announced at Pharmacology 2018. Congratulations to Dr Laura Ajram, who will join Council and assist in the key decision making processes of the Society. The election for this position was one of the most competitive in recent memory, with four candidates standing for election. It is great to see that our Early Career members are so engaged with the Society and strive to make changes within the Society.

Having an Early Career member as Trustee and a Chair, alongside our new name of ECPAG stands testament to the commitment of the British Pharmacological Society to involve and engage as much as possible with our early career members: from Undergraduates to five-years post-Ph.D. This name change shows the drive for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion of all our members, not from just ECPAG but from the Society as a whole.

Thank you also to Vedia Can, who has been our ECPAG representative member on the Editorial Board for Pharmacology Matters. During her time with Pharmacology Matters, Vedia has showcased ECPAGs activities and has been a most valuable asset to the Advisory Group. Niamh McKerr will take over from Vedia in representing ECPAG on the editorial board of Pharmacology Matters.

2018 was a truly phenomenal year for our Early Career members, which was clearly highlighted at the annual Conference. Pharmacology 2018 opened with a packed Careers Bootcamp session on the 'How to Navigate the (Many Crossroads) of a Research Career'. The session was organised and chaired by ECPAG member, Dr Thomas Jepps and included our longstanding Early Career member and new Trustee, Dr Laura Ajram as a speaker. Laura presented alongside esteemed colleagues representing a variety of research careers in both industry and academia. The talks sparked some great conversations about what is important when choosing a career path, and how the skills learnt during our pharmacology training can be applied everywhere. It was great to see so many early career researchers in attendance and asking insightful questions, both during and after the session.

Bright and early on Wednesday 19 December of the Pharmacology conference, the ECPAG and Publications Committee collaborated to host a peer review event aimed at early career researchers. Drs Jeffrey Aronson and Caroline Copeland co-chaired the session, where at least 40 people came to hear the informed and fascinating perspectives from three speakers with diverse experiences of peer review.

Professor Amrita Ahluwalia, Editor-in-Chief for the British Journal of Pharmacology (BJP) kicked things off by giving an overview of the peer review process at BJP, including the key components of a good journal paper peer review. Professor Bernadette Byrne (Imperial College London) spoke on the benefits of researchers using Publons, a free to use website for academics to track and highlight their peer review and editorial contributions for academic journals. The power of peer review and receiving recognition were emphasised by Publons academic advisor Dr Alex Bateman of the European Bioinformatics Institute.

To top it all off, Professor Andy Lawrence, Editor in Chief of Pharmacology Research & Perspectives (PR&P) came along to give an insight into, and call for volunteers to get involved in, PR&P’s recent journal club initiative, which aims to help early career researchers learn about the processes of peer review.

It was great to see so many Early Career members Chairing seminars at Pharmacology 2018 through the packed schedule, as well as presenting their work toe-to-toe with their fellow scientists and clinicians.

Earlier in the year, the Society launched a blog series focused on mental health in science. This series was kicked off by an article written by Early Career members, Niamh McKerr and Dr Aidan Seeley. This blog series further highlights the Society’s strategy to broaden Equality, Diversity and Inclusion of all our members by starting these difficult discussions.

The past year for YPAG, and now ECPAG, has reinforced the importance of early career members and their involvement in the Society. 2019 looks to be an even more successful year for ECPAG, and I could not be more pleased to be taking on my role of Chair at this exciting time for the group.

ECPAG is committed to supporting early career pharmacologists and we'd love to see if we can do more to help our members. What would you like to see more of from the ECPAG? Get in touch at Aidan.Seeley@Swansea.ac.uk and let us know!

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Published: 20 Mar 2019
Category: Early career pharmacologists
By Aidan Seeley, Laura Ajram

About the author

Aidan Seeley

Aidan graduated with First Class Honours in Biomedical Sciences (Pharmacology) from the University of Aberdeen. He then went on to complete his PhD in Medicine at the Centre for Cancer Research & Cell Biology, Queen’s University Belfast where he focused on the role of Itch E3 Ligase in receptor signalling and trafficking. Aidan was previously the Appointed Trustee (Early Career Pharmacologist) for the Society, and is currently the Chair for the Early Career Advisory Group. Aidan is currently based at Swansea University Medical School as Lecturer in Medical Pharmacology.

Laura Ajram

Laura is a Wellcome Trust Translational Research Facilitator at the University of Manchester, working to progress research projects by linking the University, NHS and industry. Laura has a PhD in Translational Neuropharmacology (Institute of Psychiatry and Eli Lilly & Co), the outputs of which contributed to the EU Autism Interventions study (EU-AIMS)- the largest single grant for Autism in the world and Europe’s largest study of any mental disorder. Laura has research experience in industry (GSK and Eli Lilly), academia (Kings College London and Institute of Psychiatry) and the NHS. Laura is also an Elected Trustee of the British Pharmacological Society.

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