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Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer

Two minutes with… Dr Nabil Hajji – Senior scientist at Imperial College

by Elise O'Kelly

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?   

The first thing I do is prepare my kids for school and check my emails.

If you could do another job, what would it be?  

I love helping people. Particularly working with children and elderly people facing challenges such as special needs. This type of job has a quick and direct impact on society.


What makes you happy? 

I feel very happy every time I better understand the mechanism of cancer development and resistance to conventional treatments. This could be an opportunity to improve the lives of cancer patients and personalize their treatment.

I have worked in both the neurodegenerative disease sector and the cancer field. Brain tumours span both of these areas, which means I have a really detailed knowledge of the disease.

Understanding brain cancer mechanisms also helps me to forget the long working hours and stress that comes with being a research scientist.


What do you want to achieve in this field (main ambition)?  

In my field the most important thing is to translate the lab work to clinical trials and to get more research from bench to bedside. I must say that I am happy to see some of my work going in that direction.


What is your favourite hat? 

Although I don’t play baseball, I love the cap!


Who inspires you?

My mother was a continual source of wisdom and great advice. I remember her saying: “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today, because tomorrow you will have another thing to do.”


What has been your biggest challenge?  

Supervising five PhD students from different cultural backgrounds. Sometimes I had to forget about the science and focus on the social interactions.  Now, all five students have completed their PhDs successfully.


Why did you choose your profession?  

I love science as I can do things better than before. “Wherever the knowledge takes me, it will empower me to do more and better”. I like knowing how to improve people’s lives.