Let us begin with what you did before. What is your background, your scientific interests?
“My first experience of working in the laboratory goes back to 2006, where in a small biotechnology company, I was involved in the production of monoclonal antibodies using tissue culture and hybridoma technology. Since then, I have gained more laboratory experience while working both in an academic and industrial environment, and the last few years I spent specializing in flow and mass cytometry techniques. My scientific employment has also been complemented academically by finishing BSc in Biomedical Sciences and MSc in Genomic Medicine, both completed alongside my full time employment.”
“During my PhD, I trained as a molecular biologist, studying the role of nuclear receptors in DNA repair in melanomas. Following the completion of my PhD, I extended my scientific training as an animal modeller in my first post-doctoral position, during which I investigated the functional changes in the murine liver microenvironment upon oncogene-induced senescence. I was able to apply many different state-of-the-art methodologies, including mass cytometry and 10x single-cell genomics.”
“ I have a scientific background in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology investigating the molecular workings of crop plant stress tolerance to abiotic stress conditions. After completing my PhD at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, I traversed into the field of medical biochemistry for my first post-doc and observed glyco-enzymatic proteins active in breast cancer development and their biochemical interaction with targeted inhibitors as potential drug targets."
Kelvin and Mateusz, you already knew Celia from Cambridge. What was your motivation to join her team at HPC?
“Yes, I had the opportunity to meet Celia during my time at Cancer Research UK, Cambridge Institute, and was fascinated by her unique approach to unraveling the process of healthy ageing. Given the fact that senescence is closely linked to ageing, Celia's studies provide me with a great platform for my development as a scientist in the area I wish to explore continuously.”
“The path to becoming a scientist is a long and arduous one, and working towards a PhD degree can also be emotionally, physically and academically challenging. With that in mind, I believe that the right support is key and instrumental to the success. This is why I have decided to join Celia's team here at HPC. I have met and briefly worked with Celia few years ago, back in Cambridge. Her scientific commitment and diligence have impressed me and left a positive impact on me. I therefore believe, that with my determined character and Celia's support and guidance, I would be on my way to fulfilling my ambition to make a positive contribution to science.”
Rizqah, you have been interested in Celia's research in molecular ageing. Was this a reason for you to come to Munich?
“Yes I have, I was intrigued by Celia's research into molecular ageing of targeted tissues using single-cell technologies, particularly how increased cellular variability contributes to a change from healthy to diseased cell states. I came to Munich to pursue further studies into age-related diseases with Celia and the team and be part of the stimulating environment of HPC”.
What scientific questions are you particularly interested in? Is there something that is particularly close to your heart?
“Of course, there are research questions that interest me particularly, many of which constantly change and adapt to an ever-growing field. Throughout my research career, however, I have been consistently invested in ‘omic’ responses to perturbations in the system understudy and as such, have realised the importance of an all-inclusive, multi-level approach to completely answer research questions. I would like to gain the skillset and scientific ‘know how’ to answer these questions, share the knowledge acquired and be able to further develop new pioneering ideas and concepts.”
“My drive to study for a PhD qualification in molecular ageing stems not only from my interest in human biology and single-cell technologies, but also from its sheer diversity and scientific career prospects afterwards. The chance of contributing to science in this invaluable way along with involvement in an ever-advancing field of single-cell genomics fills me with immense excitement.”
The scientific environment is therefore also essential for you to develop groundbreaking ideas, concepts or visions?
“Of course it is. My main field of interest is the life sciences so I’m always searching for opportunities to work alongside top minds, working on novel ideas and developing innovative methodologies to understand scientific questions concerning systems biology.”