ECR Career Development Network

ECR Career Development Network (ECDN)

**Our call for Cohort 2 is now Closed**


There was seminar about the VALIDATE ECR Career Development Network (ECDN), for members to hear more about the programme and its benefits as well to ask any questions, online on 1 May 2024. You can find the recording here.


VALIDATE recognises the challenges faced by post-doctoral and early PI researchers trying to progress their careers. As part of VALIDATE’s aim to encourage and support career progression amongst members, especially Early Career Researchers (ECRs), and to help address inequality in scientific career progression, we have created a two-year long ECR Career Development Network programme for VALIDATE members who identify as female or non-binary.


This ECDN call is for a second cohort (running July 2024-June 2026), after the success in 2022-2024 of our first ECDN Programme (see the bottom of this webpage for our first cohort members, their programme events, and feedback).

“ECDN has been amazing for career development… I already feel that my personal development and career progression have been positively impacted by this program and I can see future collaborations and possible job opportunities developing from this network.”


The ECDN programme will bring together ~20 VALIDATE ECR scientists into an engaged sub-group of VALIDATE, and provides:

  • An engaged, connected network of Early Career Researchers, all wanting to develop their careers
  • Extra support to accelerate their research career including:
    • Group mentoring by a senior scientist
    • Monthly virtual talks and workshops on topics helpful to your career progression (these alternate between an ‘Inspiring Careers’ talk by a senior scientist role model about their career path and their tips/advice to ECRs (giving you a great chance to meet and network with them, and to learn from them), and training courses e.g. leadership, career planning, learning to say no)
    • Peer-support via accountability groups and programme events
    • Individual career coaching by a qualified coach
    • Opportunities to network and form new collaborations with each other

In addition, the ECDN cohort members will be invited to attend the 2024 VALIDATE Annual Meeting on 15-17 July 2024, where we will have a face-to-face ECDN kick-off meeting so the members can all meet each other. Your travel costs for this would be funded by VALIDATE (so please hold these dates in your diary).


Applicants must:

  1. Be an Associate or (early PI) Investigator member of VALIDATE (please note that Associate members will be prioritized)
  2. Be working on research directly related to vaccine development for VALIDATE’s focus pathogens (any aspect of research that will accelerate development of an efficacious vaccine is eligible, including biological, physical and social sciences, and humanities)
  3. Identify as female or non-binary


Successful applicants joining the programme will be expected to commit fully to engaging with all programme activities from July 2024 - June 2026, and to engaging with other members of the ECR Career Development Network. We estimate the programme will take a commitment of 1-3 hours per month, for 24 months. Any members who do not fully participate will be released from the programme.


All successful applicants will be expected to complete short reports during their two-year programme, for inclusion in Network outcomes and publicity (these may be anonymised and shared with our funders or in VALIDATE publicity).


To apply to join this programme, please submit the application form below, along with the requested additional documents, as a single pdf by 4pm (UK time) on the closing date to our Network Management Team at Do address any queries about your application to the VALIDATE team at the same address. Applications are reviewed by the VALIDATE Management Team. Members will be sent the outcome of their application around one month after the closing date.


Application Form

What our 2022-2024 ECDN Cohort had to say about the ECDN Programme:

  • ​​​​“The ECDN has provided me with several opportunities to attend workshops which focusses on my professional development (time management, grant writing and communication workshops). The life coaching sessions have helped me to implement time management and priority strategy. As an active member I make use of mentoring sessions and group meetings to foster relationships with other ECRs focussed on vaccine development. The ECDN also provided me with an opportunity to attend the CTVD meeting [which] was a great opportunity to introduce myself to other vaccine researchers.”


  • “Being part of the ECDN benefited me in terms of networking and confidence in my abilities. Coming from a laboratory far from the global north, in a country with a significant technological backwardness and little English language education, I see my inclusion in this program as a great opportunity to connect.”


  • “I have really enjoyed being part of the ECDN – I feel like firstly it has given me a huge confidence boost – especially after having maternity leave and COVID, there were times where I felt I wasn’t making much progress but to be part of the network validates that I have something to offer to the field.”


  • “I learned a lot about how to better teach my students by broadening the perspective of our relationship, such as how to guide them in a positive way and strike a balance between being efficient and emphatic at the same time.”


  •  “[ECDN] helped me in connecting with researchers working in my field… Knowledge sharing, troubleshooting and possible future collaboration are some of the other benefits of ECDN.”

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Congratulations to our ECDN Cohort 2 members, for 2024-2026!

1.    Dr Naomi Daniels, University of Otago, New Zealand

2.    Dr Ana Maria Valencia Hernandez, James Cook University, Australia

3.    Dr Refaya Kabir Ahmed, ICMR-NIRT, India

4.    Dr Nasrin Masoudzadeh, Pasteur Institute, Iran

5.    Asst Prof Menberework Negatue, AHRI, Ethiopia

6.    Dr Chiraz Atri, Institute Pasteur, Tunisia

7.    Dr Ines Brahmi, Institute Pasteur, Tunisia

8.    Dr Malek Trimèche, Institute Pasteur, Tunisia

9.    Dr Yumna Moosa, AHRI, South Africa

10.  Dr Zimvo Obasa, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

11.  Dr Pia Steigler, Afrigen Biologics PTY Ltd, South Africa

12.  Dr Rachel Okojie, University of Benin, Nigeria

13.  Dr Mariateresa Coppola, LUMC, Netherlands

14.  Dr Thao-Thy Pham, ITM, Belgium

15.  Dr Alexandra Morrison, UKHSA, UK

16.  Dr Martha Zewdie, University of Oxford, UK

17.  Dr Barbara Kronsteiner-Dobramysl, University of Oxford, UK

18.  Dr Elizabeth Andrea Garcia, INTA, Argentina

19.  Prof Carina Carvalho dos Santos, UFBA, Brazil

20.  Dr Chyntia Diaz, National University of Asuncion, Paraguay

21.  Dr Susana Flores Villalva, CENID SAI, Mexico

22.  Asst Prof Styliani Karanika, John Hopkins, USA

23.  Dr Tuhina Gupta, University of Georgia, USA

24.  Dr Taru Dutt, Colorado State University, USA

25.  Dr Sasha Larsen Akins, SCRI, USA


Events (all times GMT unless stated otherwise)

1600-1800 (Thai ICT) 14 July 2024 Kick-off Meeting - Samantha Vermaak, University of Oxford, UK

0900-1700 (Thai ICT) 15 July 2024 VALIDATE ECR Grant Writing Workshop - Scriptoria

1300-1400 28 Aug 2024 Career Goal Setting Workshop - Samantha Vermaak, University of Oxford, UK

1500-1600 26 Sep 2024 Inspiring Careers talk - Prof Samantha Sampson, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

1600-1700 21 Oct 2024 Mentorship Mastery - Dr Ruth Gotian, Weill Cornell University, USA

1300-1400 18 Nov 2024 Inspiring Careers talk - Prof Andrea Cooper, University of Leicester, UK

1600-1700 17 Dec 2024 How to Say No and Manage Your Time Better - Dr Ruth Gotian, Weill Cornell University, USA

VALIDATE's first ECDN programme ran from February 2022-February 2024.

Huge congratulations to the following VALIDATE members for joining this ECDN:

  • Dr Luciana Balboa, IMEX-CONICET, Argentina
  • Dr Naomi Daniels, University of Otago, New Zealand
  • Dr Fatoumatta Darboe, MRC Unit at The Gambia at LSHTM, The Gambia (now at UCSF, USA)
  • Dr Lahari Das, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY, USA
  • Dr Chelsea Davis, Aberystwyth University, UK
  • Dr Chyntia Diaz Acosta, National University of Asuncion, Paraguay
  • Dr Nancy Hilda, National Institute for Research in TB, India
  • Dr Nargis Khan, University of Calgary, Canada
  • Dr Nastassja Kriel, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Dr Zaynab Mousavian, Karolinska Institute, Sweden
  • Dr Paula Niewold, LUMC, The Netherlands
  • Dr Margaret Nolan, Stellenbosch University, South Africa (now at Deltamune, South Africa)
  • Dr Laura Sibley, UK Health Security Agency, UK (now at MRC, UK)


Programme Events (All times below are GMT; all events online):

21 Feb 2022  12:00-14:00  ECDN Kick-off meeting

2 Mar 2022  15:00-17:00  Writing Research Grants Proposal workshop - Prof Rajko Reljic, SGUL, UK

27 Apr 2022 11:00-12:00  Inspiring Careers seminar - Prof Andrea Cooper, University of Leicester, UK

4-5 May 2022 12:00-17:00  Flow Cytometry workshop - Scottish Society of Cytomics

6 Jun 2022 11:00-12:00  Inspiring Careers seminar - Prof Samantha Sampson, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

6 Jul 2022  13:00-15:00  Storytelling for Scientists (communicating your science) workshop - First Create the Media

15 Aug 2022 12:00-13:00 Inspiring Careers seminar - Prof Helen McShane, University of Oxford, UK

20 Sep 2022 12:00-13:00 How to Say No and Manage Your Time Better - Dr Ruth Gotian, Weill Cornell Medicine, USA

25 Oct 2022 14:00-15:00 Inspiring Careers seminar - Prof Walderez Dutra, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil

30 Nov 2022 14:00-15:00 NIH Grants 101 - Dr Katrin Eichelberg, NIH Program Officer, USA

13 Dec 2022 18:00-19:00 Inspiring Careers seminar - Affil Prof Rhea Coler, Seattle Children's Research Institute, USA

27 Jan 2023 12:00-13:00 Goal Setting for 2023 workshop - Samantha Vermaak, University of Oxford, UK

17 Feb 2023 10:00-11:00 Inspiring Careers seminar - Asst Prof Ganjana Lertmemongkolchai, Chiang Mai University, Thailand

6 Mar 2023 10:00-17:00 Showcasing Your Science workshop - First Create the Media (in-person at the VALIDATE Annual Meeting)

20 Apr 2023 15:00-16:00 Inspiring Careers seminar - Assoc Prof Marcela Henao-Tamayo, Colorado State University, USA

31 May 2023 15:00-17:00 Nature Masterclasses Study Group

28 Jun 2023 13:00-14:00 Inspiring Careers seminar - Dr Maria Adelaida Gomez, CIDEIM, Colombia

26 July 2023 14:00-16:00 Resources & Strategies for Improving English - University of Oxford's Language Centre

30 Aug 2023 14:00-15:00 Inspiring Careers seminar - Dr Ann Ginsberg, BMGF, USA

25 Sep 2023 12:30-14:00 12 ways to effectively take charge of your career by Ellie Rich-Poole

25 Oct 2023 14:00-15:00 Inspiring Careers seminar - Prof Petro Terblanche, Afrigen Biologics Pty Ltd, South Africa

12 Dec 2023 14:00-15:00 Inspiring Careers seminar - Dr Jelle Thole, BioFabri PLU, Spain

16 Jan 2024 16:00-17:00 Surprising strategies for becoming a leader, creating the life you want, and succeeding at work, based on science - Dr Olivia Remes, University of Cambridge, UK

12 Feb 2024 13:00-15:00 Final session - reflection on the programme, goal setting for 2024 and beyond, feedback and future plans