Having noted that graduate students at St. Edmund Hall often lack opportunities for additional funding to cover extra academic expenses that may arise during their time at the Hall, the Middle Common Room (MCR) launched in 2015 a graduate scholarship to help its students with such additional expenses during the course of their degree.

The MCR 50th Anniversary Grant, currently funded through termly battling of £5 per student (with an option to opt out), aims to support additional academic expenses that may arise during a student’s time at St. Edmund Hall. These expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Additional courses, skills training, or language classes.
  • Books
  • Travel expenses to conferences

The scholarship aims to fund the same kinds of additional expenses funded by the College Grant system. Thus, applications for funding should be thought of in those terms.

Eligibility and Application to the Grant

  1. Only Ordinary Members of the MCR – who did not opt out on their battels from contributing to the funds for the 50th Anniversary Grant – are eligible to apply.
  2. Only those who have exhausted their College Grants will be allowed to apply to this scholarship. This either means: all £350 has been claimed OR, if purchasing books, the £50 available for books has been claimed.
  3. As with the College Grants, a signature from a supervisor is required. Applications for funding can be retrospective or prospective; this will not impact the chance of receiving funding.

Further guidelines can be found here.

Those who wish to apply to the fund should send a completed application form to the MCR Academic Representative by Friday of Week 6 of the current term. Decisions and funds will be sent out in Week 8.

Management of the Grant

Once applications have been received, the MCR President, the MCR Academic Rep and the Tutor for Graduates will meet to choose which applicants are successful. Successful applicants will be notified, and asked to provide bank details for direct deposit. The MCR Treasurer will release funds upon notification of successful applications. Surplus funds will be allowed to roll over to the next term if all the raised money has not been claimed. A brief report on the status of the fund will be made by the Treasurer to the first MCR General Meeting of each term.

Reports from Previous Award Holders

We ask that those awarded the 50th anniversary grant provide a report to demonstrate the positive contribution that the fund has made to their academic progress.

Dr Marc-Philipp Pfeil – International Symposium (Connecting EPR, ssNMR and DNP for the study of complex Biomolecules)

Kate Williamson – A week digesting the best there is on offer at Digestive Diseases Week!

I was lucky enough to receive a MCR 50th Anniversary Grant to assist my travel to Chicago, USA to attend DDW – Digestive Diseases Week. This is one of the premiere international conferences for gastroenterology and hepatology, and around 15,000 delegates attend each year.

It is a spectacle to behold with 1000 posters presented each day over 4 days, the largest exhibit hall I have ever seen, around 20 parallel presentations at any one time, and its own newspaper published daily! Results from many major international clinical studies were presented at this meeting with some promising results in areas in which I perform research, including ulcerative colitis and the liver condition, primary biliary cholangitis.

I presented two posters at this conference, both on an inflammatory bowel condition called ulcerative colitis (UC), and a rare but devastating liver condition called primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). Patients with PSC usually also have UC, a link which hitherto has not been fully understood. Unfortunately, the cause of PSC is unknown, and patients may develop liver or bowel cancer, or liver failure, leading to death or the need for liver transplantation. There is no beneficial therapy for the condition.

My research I presented focussed on ways to try and screen for and prevent bowel cancer in these patients, as well as clinical and laboratory based research on a new potential therapy for the condition. As the meeting attracts experts from all over the world, there were many people working in my area who attended my posters, and the feedback I received was valuable. In addition, I was able to meet with a US colleague and arrange a collaborative international study to look further into this therapy in PSC in larger numbers.

I was able to update my knowledge on many other areas of gastroenterology and hepatology in which I do not perform research, which is invaluable for my time I spend performing clinics and procedures at the John Radcliffe Hospital (about 10-20% of my time during my D Phil in Clinical Medicine).

But beyond that, I was also able to experience the wondrous surroundings that is the city of Chicago. The architecture is so diverse as well as picturesque, with a real mix of art deco, neoclassical, modern and postmodern buildings. I was able to meet with past colleagues who have left Oxford but attended the conference, and also make new contacts in my field of research.

Overall it was a very enjoyable and inspirational meeting to attend, and I was privileged not only to attend but to present my research on this international stage. I am very grateful to the MCR Committee for selecting me for this grant as well as the MCR community for contributing funds to make this possible.

Kate Williamson
2nd year DPhil student in Clinical Medicine