Professor Alison Banham
Professor of Haemato-oncology and Head of NDCLS
I joined NDCLS in 1995 as an experienced postdoctoral researcher, developing novel hypothesis driven research projects using diagnostic monoclonal antibodies. This has now evolved into making antibodies for cancer therapy.
I took 6 months maternity leave in both 1997 and 1999. On returning to work my line manager’s support and flexibility was essential, as both children refused to bottle-feed. I still value the ability to work flexible hours, and from home, to accommodate the needs of my teenage children.
In 1999, I patented the results of an independent research project, studying a new cancer biomarker called FOXP1. Financial support for a research assistant from the University Innovation Fund and goals set during the Springboard Programme helped me to establish myself as an independent researcher and obtain a University Research Lecturer title in 2002.
Informal mentoring from a senior clinical academic significantly contributed to the acquisition of my first FOXP1 project grant and my subsequent career progression through the internal promotions system. I was also fortunate to work very closely with a female colleague, which helped me achieve a work/life balance while obtaining Programme grant support for my research.
In 2008 I was supported by my Head of Department (HoD) and Departmental Administrator to successfully apply for a tenured position. In 2010 I once again received the support of my HoD and was awarded the title of Professor of Haemato-oncology.
Flexible working hours became essential in 2011 when I unexpectedly became a foster parent. This involved numerous meetings within working hours including attending a weekly KEEP Safe training course run by Social Services for 6 months, regular meetings with Social Services and court appearances in 2013 to obtain a Special Guardianship Order. NDCLS were hugely supportive and provided very helpful advice and encouragement, particularly from my HoD, members of the Administration team and my laboratory.
In 2012, my HoD supported my nomination for the University’s Academic Leadership Course, which provided a valuable opportunity to network and helped me decide that I would like to undertake future leadership roles. I successfully applied for the position of Deputy Head of NDCLS in 2013 and have enjoyed the opportunity to be more actively involved in leadership, including roles in RDM where I sit on the Management Committee and Chair the Mentoring Committee. My achievements have recently been recognised with a promotion to Head of NDCLS in 2014.