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A Special Relationship: Scientific Training across the Atlantic

The story of how Bikanta came to be has much to do with the journey that its founders had.  The development of this nanomedical diamond imaging innovation was a particularly interdisciplinary one that required drawing from areas of expertise that included quantum physics, chemistry, engineering, immunology, oncology, and radiology.  A huge role of this came from the training the founder Ambika Bumb had in the National Institutes of Health-Oxford-Cambridge Scholarship Program.

The NIH Ox-Cam Scholarship was started in 2001 by Dr. Harold Varmus (Nobel prize winning Director of NIH) and Dr. Michael Gottesman (Deputy Director for Intramural Research) with the vision to particularly address limitations of the American graduate education in biomedical sciences in regards to the excessive time for PhD completion (7.8 years) and inadequate preparation for the interdisciplinary and global nature of contemporary science.  What began as an experiment with 2 students is now a program of ~15 students per year who are selected to lead intensive doctoral projects with multiple mentors across the institutions and on average in 4 years.  The goal was to train innovators to be extra prepared for success in today’s scientific world and to bring forth medical innovation quickly and effectively.  Now, a few years out after the first graduates, there are examples of graduates from this small sample size succeeding in big ways, i.e. Paul Tesar (featured in Nature for his discovery a new type of stem cell), Danielle Bassett (MacArthur Genius Award), etc.

Read more about this innovative approach to scientific training in this article by the Center for Cancer Research: A Special Relationship: CCR and the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program strengthen scientific training across the Atlantic.