Sixfold Welcomes New Marie Curie Fellow
Updated: Mar 9
The Marie Skłodowska-Curie individual fellowships are prestigious grants awarded by the European Commission for experienced researchers (a PhD or at least four years’ full-time research experience).
They fund projects for a maximum of two-years, promoting interdisciplinary research, and international mobility across Europe, including those coming to Europe from other parts of the world. All research areas and nationalities can apply for Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships.
In February 2020, Sixfold was awarded a Marie Curie fellowship with Dr. Aurélie Lacroix, who completed her PhD at McGill University. We sat down with Aurélie to discuss her background, why she applied and how to put together a strong application.
Tell us more about your research background?
I grew up in France, and through my studies, I can definitely say I had the chance to travel a lot!
I first moved to Montpellier for my Bachelor’s and Master's degrees where I studied chemistry and biology. From there, I worked in the UK and Singapore in both academic and industrial settings, researching drug delivery and cancer biology.
I then moved to Canada to get my first hands-on research experience with nucleic acids! I loved it so much that in 2014, I started my PhD in Chemistry with Prof. Hanadi Sleiman at McGill University. There, I discovered that we could use DNA as a building block to assemble 3D structures. I studied the fate of DNA cubes in cellular conditions, trying to unravel how they interact with enzymes, proteins and cell membranes.
Why did you apply?
I knew that I wanted to keep being part of advancing nucleic acids technologies. While registering for the Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Society (OTS) meeting in Munich, I discovered Sixfold Bioscience and chatted with George, the COO of the company.
Applying to the MSCA scholarship was a chance to join Sixfold, while writing a scientific project that will allow me to enhance my knowledge and learn new techniques.
I also really wanted to come back to Europe!
How hard was the application?
The main thing is to write a proposal. I actually like writing a lot, but I worked on the grant while I was finishing writing my thesis... So it was a pretty busy time!
Sixfold and I discussed new directions and ideas, and they eventually let me choose and write the project. They were very helpful recruiting collaborators, sharing their ideas, and improving the entire proposal. We managed to put together a 10-pages proposal, in less than a month, and submit it on time!
Can you tell us more about the project?
When nanoparticles are injected in the blood, proteins aggregate on their surface, and dramatically alter the resultant therapeutic effect. My goal is to study what happens when we add nucleic-acids structures, developed by Sixfold, to biological media.
We will be collaborating with researchers from the UK, Spain and the Netherlands, and use proteomics, super-resolution microscopy and single-molecule experiments. I am really excited to start the project!
How do you think Marie Curie will help you achieve your goals?
The scholarship generously supports my salary for two years and costs related to my stay (allowance to cover living, travel and family costs). There is also funding for training, networking and research costs, making the fellowship great for supporting my career development.
The Marie Curie fellowship also gave Sixfold and myself the opportunity to design a very collaborative project, merging both the expertise from Sixfold and academics across Europe.
Part of my time will also be devoted to engaging in science communication with the general public as well as helping to communicate the research activities of the company.
Something very important to me has always been to have an impact. Sixfold appeared the ideal place to do so. I am really excited to join a fast-growing start-up, filled with creativity.
It also gives me the opportunity to do science in a more industrial setting, while having a strong connection with academia. Besides the science skills, I guess I'll be able to discover what it feels to be in a start-up and learn much more than I can yet expect!
Do you have any advice for other applicants?
Write your application like if you were asked to write your dream project on paper! I would start by listing what you'd want to study, learn, and develop. And then, I'd say that you should probably cross your fingers, really, really hard!
...Want to apply for a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship with Sixfold?
Sixfold are looking for their next Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow!
We’re looking for experienced researchers with experience in either biochemistry, nanotechnology, nucleic acids, organic chemistry, molecular/cell biology, drug delivery and drug development.
The deadline is in September 2020, with a projected start date of early 2021.
If you are interested, please fill out this form.
You must be in possession of a doctoral degree or have at least four years of full-time equivalent research experience.
You cannot have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the UK for more than 12 months in the three years immediately before the call deadline.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 896167.