Dr. Byram Bridle is currently a faculty member at the University of Guelph after having done his postdoctoral work (2009-2012) with Dr. Yonghong Wan & Dr. Brian Lichty at MIRC.
BSc (Biomedical Science, University of Guelph), MSc (Immunology, University of Guelph), PhD (Immunology, University of Guelph), Postdoctoral fellowship (Oncolytic Immunotherapy, McMaster University)
MIRC offered a unique opportunity to further enhance my immunological expertise while developing novel cancer therapies. Cancer immunotherapy is a field in which MIRC is a leader. I was also drawn to Dr. Yonghong Wan’s side interest in autoimmune pathology, another passion of mine. Other key attractants included a good level of research funding, access to state-of-the-art equipment and availability of excellent mentors.
The first time I cured a mouse of cancer in the brain. I had struggled for a couple of years trying to develop a really robust therapy. When the breakthrough came, I was quickly able to move from working exclusively with prophylactic cancer models to successfully treating mice in a very aggressive therapeutic model.
The environment was highly collaborative. I was also encouraged to perform many aspects of my research in a highly independent fashion, which is exactly what I needed to grow at the post-doctoral level.
I will be starting as an assistant professor in the Dept. of Pathobiology, University of Guelph on Jan.3, 2012. Obtaining a tenure-track faculty position in today’s academic environment is extremely challenging. Very few positions come available and there are many postdoctoral fellows waiting for them. I count myself very fortunate, because I was actually offered academic positions at two different institutions at the same time. Publishing regularly in good journals and developing a network of collaborators seemed to be important in getting myself “on the radar”. Two factors were critical in developing my CV to the point where it became competitive. One was sheer hard work – I spent seemingly endless hours over the years in the laboratory intensely focusing on my experiments, in front of a computer writing and sitting in a chair reading research findings of others and thinking. Probably the most important part of my success was excellent mentoring. There is no doubt in my mind that obtaining my faculty position was largely facilitated by the continual support and guidance of Drs. Yonghong Wan, Brian Lichty and Jonathan Bramson.
My postdoctoral training at MIRC has instilled a strong sense of self-confidence and a deep knowledge base. I feel prepared to use my skill set to help train the next generation of researchers.
For the academic environment I will be entering as an assistant professor, no other institution could have better prepared me than MIRC did.
Work very hard. But more importantly, work smart. The most efficient way to navigate the world of research is with strong mentoring. So the number one piece of advice that I can give is to identify at least one mentor (more than one can provide a broader perspective) and then consult with them regularly. …and discussing proposed experimental designs with mentors is far better than seeking their advice on failed studies after the fact – plan ahead.