Science graduates undertook PhD studies in clinical and translational research as MMI Scholars in the MMI partner institutions UCC, UCD, NUI Galway and TCD. Unique features of this 4-year structured PhD programme included the strong involvement of industry partners in governance, taught courses, placements and mentoring, the wide pool of over 90 academic prinicpal investigators offering lab placements and PhD projects, and the online coordination hub which enabled students to select PhD components, track progress and access e-learning modules.

About the Programme

In July 2010, the successful Molecular Medicine Ireland bid, led by NUI Galway with partners Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork and University College Dublin, secured funding for a collaborative structured PhD programme under Cycle 5 of the Irish Government's Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI). The MMI Clinical & Translational Research Scholars Programme (CTRSP) was a unique cross-institutional programme that developed graduates with knowledge and skills to pursue disease-focused research and bridge gaps between basic scientists, clinical scientists and industry.

The programme was guided by a Steering Committee with representation from each of the four partner universities, from industry and the The Health Products Regulatory Authority.

Twenty scholarships were awarded in the first call for the MMI CTRSP following a rigorous selection process. The appointed Scholars began the programme in October 2011. A second cohort of five MMI Scholars was recruited in October 2012.

  • Year 1 of the 4-year programme comprised core and optional graduate education modules delivered in Dublin, Cork and Galway. These modules provided a grounding in essential research skills and transferable skills together with access to specialist topics.
  • Year 1 also featured practical placements in industry, in academic research labs and in clinical research facilities.
  • At the end of Year 1, Scholars selected PhD projects in areas including drug discovery, discovery/validation of biomarkers and patient-oriented research in clinical research facilities. Over 90 Principal Investigators participated in the programme.
  • In Years 2 and 3, work on PhD research projects were supplemented with access to online education modules with a strong innovation and commercialisation focus. These included modules developed specifically for this programme with industry and the Irish Medicines Board.
  • An online SkillsLog enabled Scholars to record transferable skills acquired through all aspects of the PhD. These individual online records informed Scholar's meetings with their industry mentors throughout the PhD to assist career development.
  • Annual Scientific Meetings provided a forum for scholars to interact with the wider research community and present their research.

Organisations involved in mentoring CTRSP Scholars and offering research placements

The MMI Clinical & Translational Research Scholars Programme was funded under the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) Cycle 5, and co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)