Research and Advanced Education
Inês Figueiredo receives 1st Prize of the 15th Workshop “Educating through Science”
My interest in Science and Research was a key factor that informed my decision to study a medical degree. In the early years I had the opportunity to be in contact directly with laboratories, which made me aware of the opportunities I had as a student and of the possibility to participate in research projects. Through several means of communication, either via the students’ association or through meetings organized by students for students (in those days named EnjoyMed, currently called AIMS Meeting), I found out about the existence of the GAPIC programme. I quickly grabbed the opportunity and applied for a project in the scientific areas that interested me the most.
Currently, all clinicians are advised to undertake or share some kind of experience in research, whether clinical/applied research, which is more usual, or basic research. For me, the latter had more potential and posed more challenges because it focuses on the pillars of scientific problems that end up at the “patient’s bedside”. As a unique institution within the Lisbon Academic Medical Centre (CAML), GAPIC became the bridge between medical training and scientific research, enabling medical students to be involved in both areas from the onset of their academic paths.
Two years ago, I expressed my interest in being part of a research project at the Neurosciences and Biochemistry Institutes, which made me very welcome and where I learned a lot. My involvement allowed me to have a first-hand contact with the multidisciplinary atmosphere of a research laboratory and to live with the spirit of scientific discovery that is present in the units and, more directly, in the tutors who receive us. Learning laboratory techniques and protocols is extremely enriching, as well as producing the means to disseminate the work conducted, writing reports, applying for grants and projects, and also participating in seminars and workshops. This experience culminated in the awarding of the first prize for the project conducted at the Biochemistry and Cell Biology Institute at the 15th Workshop “Educating through Science”/Research Day of GAPIC in December 2012. I believe that given the above reasons, conducting a research project at undergraduate level is an asset to the academic development of any medical student.
Still, one of the most difficult things to do when conducting a GAPIC project is to reconcile the time spent on the medical degree and the amount of time devoted to laboratory work. Accordingly, I was very proud to see that my effort and hard work were acknowledged during the 15th GAPIC Workshop. Exposing our work to key researchers and clinicians from many areas is always a special occasion, and the many questions and comments allow us to recognize the potential that the project had. Besides the opportunity to exhibit, it is equally a chance to learn and have new ideas, since the discussion and exchange of views with colleagues bring new perspectives for future work.
My participation in the GAPIC programme was an unforgettable experience that enriched my professional and individual path; it boosted my interest in research and I believe that it will open doors for my future career.
I would like to express my special thanks to all those who have accompanied me on this journey, particularly Professor Miguel Castanho and João Miguel Freire (MSc).