Nina is a clinical research fellow and DPhil (PhD) student based in at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford. She works with and is studying alongside Professor Ahmed Ahmed who's vital work we fund, to study the molecular mechanisms that cause ovarian cancer cells to grow so that new targeted drugs can be used.
What inspired you to be a scientist?
From the earliest days in medical school, it became clear to me that there are still many unanswered problems in healthcare, particularly when it comes to cancer. This interest stayed with me throughout clinical school, and after working with a brilliant team in Gynaecological Oncology in my first year as a doctor, I knew I wanted to do a PhD in ovarian cancer research. Clinician scientists are in a very privileged place to be working directly with the patients whose lives we hope to improve through our research, and I certainly hope that one day I will be able to help translate new discoveries made in the lab directly to patient care.
What projects are you working on that are funded by Ovarian Cancer Action, what are you discovering?
From recent studies, we know that the latency period of ovarian cancer is one of the longest of all cancers, in the range of several decades. Yet, we diagnose the majority of women with ovarian cancer when it has already spread, and this directly impacts their outcome. What I hope to establish through my research is an understanding of what genetic changes occur in precancerous lesions, and how this could translate into early detection and prevention strategies.
What is the most exciting part of your job?
The most exciting part of my job is the prospect of adding new knowledge to the field, and being able to collaborate with many other great scientists.
What is the most challenge part of your job?
The most challenging part of this job is never knowing whether what you’re doing will work and having the tenacity to carry on regardless.
What’s your favourite piece of lab equipment?
My favourite piece of lab equipment is the laser capture micro-dissection microscope. This essentially allows you to select little biopsies as big as only a few cells under direct microscopic visualisation, and it then cuts these out and collects them in a tube using a laser. It really is a fascinating piece of technology, but having wiled away months using it I’ve developed a bit more of a love/hate relationship with it now!
What music/podcasts do you listen to while you are working?
My absolute favourite podcast to listen to is How to Fail with Elizabeth Day, which, in Elizabeth’s own words, is a podcast that celebrates the things that haven’t gone right. It always feels like a very apt choice of podcast to listen to on days when experiments don’t go the way I had planned, and is a good reminder of all the failures one has to endure on the way to success!
How many cups of tea/coffee do you drink a day?
Too many - luckily our lab has a dedicated coffee machine just outside it!