Hello Bio Careers community! I am excited to have joined the rest of the bloggers in this little endeavor.
Just to give a little perspective, I am a cell biologist at heart, and my training has been focused in the biomedical sciences. I am one of those crazy people who believe that academic science is, and should always be, fun. I also think that it should serve a greater good by providing new ways to tackle devastating diseases.
Following my BSc in Biology, I did my graduate work in cancer research. It was a tremendously exciting time in my career, as I learned a lot from great people. My project revolved around the PI3K/Akt/FOXO pathway, one of the key signaling mechanisms in cancer biology. During that time, I had access to large-scale cell biology facilities and developed many cell-based assays to be used in small molecule and RNAi screens for new targets within that pathway. Towards the end of that chapter, and after defending my PhD thesis, I got to learn more about stem cells and decided that during my postdoc, I would like to work with them. I guess the deal breaker was when I watched those awesome movies of stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes beating on a plastic tissue culture dish. I thought that was too cool.
Encouraged by great PhD mentors, who advised me that a change of topic could make a very interesting postdoc experience for me, I looked for opportunities that would allow me to use stem cells to model disease. Thus, I joined my current lab, where I am using iPS to model a cardiac disease called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC), which is responsible for many sudden cardiac deaths in young people, including athletes. It is a devastating disease, and that it is associated with a lot of sudden deaths without any previous warning signs. My project is both challenging and stimulating, because although we have insights from genetic studies, a lot about this disease is still unknown and I am trying to break new grounds using iPS. With that, I get to make those awesome videos as well, from “my own” stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes beating on a plate.
After 10 years of academic research going from my undergraduate to my postdoctoral training, and across 4 different countries, I have experienced, seen and heard a lot in academia.
In my own personal experience, things can appear radically different from reality during the interview, and it may take you a good chunk of time to figure out how the lab really is. So I gathered some thoughts from my own experiences and from what I hear from friends, in the hopes that it can help people who are in the interviewing stage and are deciding between academic labs. My plan for now is to develop some of those ideas across a few posts on the blog. I hope to hear from you as well, so I will be looking forward to your comments!