Damon Runyon Blog

November 9, 2017

First- and third-year Damon Runyon Fellows look forward to our fall retreat as a time to come together from their separate labs around the country, meet their colleagues and share ideas. This September, Fellows gathered in Beverly, Massachusetts.



Third-year Fellows, who are nearing the final year of their fellowships, present talks about their research and receive valuable input from the audience. “The Damon Runyon Foundation has created a fantastic community of highly motivated scientists from multiple disciplines. The fellows retreat provides an opportunity to meet with and present my research to these scientists, as well as, to learn about exciting new research in the field of cancer biology. Many discussions between myself and my colleagues during the retreat led to new ideas that have progressed my project,” said third-year Fellow Jonathan Whicher, PhD, of The Rockefeller University.


The evenings are filled with lively discussions during the poster sessions presented by first-year Fellows. These interactions are opportunities to informally get to know one another and build bridges that may lead to future collaborations. “The work presented during the talks and poster sessions highlighted the breadth of science conducted by the fellows, from transformative translational work to groundbreaking basic research. It was also fun to meet the other fellows. The conversations amongst fellows during coffee breaks, over meals, and at the bar were a highlight of the retreat,” explained first-year Fellow Benjamin Sabari, PhD, of the Whitehead Institute.


“I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of topics and projects represented at the retreat.  This was especially helpful because people from different fields visited my poster and offered fresh perspectives, some of which I plan to incorporate into my project,” added first-year Fellow, Deepshika Ramanan, PhD, of Harvard Medical School.


Another aspect of the retreat is the opportunity to interact with and get professional advice from former Damon Runyon Fellows and members of our award selection committee, who are established in their careers in both industry and academics. “As I am nearing the end of my postdoc, I am trying to decide what to do next in my scientific career. The career panels and discussions at the retreat offer invaluable advice when deciding which career path is best for me and how to pursue that career path most successfully,” said Jonathan.


Deepshika, who is at the other end of the spectrum starting her postdoctoral fellowship, found this aspect valuable also.The schedule was extremely conducive to networking with other fellows, faculty, and staff members. The panel discussion with the faculty on the first day addressed several issues that first-year postdocs face, and it was reassuring that I wasn't alone.”


Fellow Lyndsay Murrow, PhD, of the University of California San Francisco, remembers her first retreat, “Being at the retreat was when I really started to feel part of the Damon Runyon community. As a third year now, it was exciting to see how everyone's research has progressed from preliminary data that first year to complete stories and polished research talks this year. It is rare to have the experience of seeing a project's full progression from conception to completion when it is not someone from your own lab.”


Beyond the monetary support Damon Runyon provides, we foster an environment of community by getting to know our fellows and connecting them to each other. Long after fellowships are over, these scientists continue to be part of the Damon Runyon family.