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

Two minutes with... Claire Vinel - Post Doctoral Research Fellow at Queen Mary University of London

by Elise O'Kelly

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

During the week, I have to admit, that the very first thing I do is evaluate how much time I can save on the dressing/breakfast slot to stay as long as possible in bed. On the weekend, I often drink coffee and read the news.

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

I often ask myself this question because here are thousands of jobs I would like to do. I would enjoy working with children. I taught courses at uni during my PhD, and I was a sports instructor for kids when I was younger, I loved doing both and it would be amazing to mix them up. Also, in another life it would be interesting to be a novelist or journalist, I'm sure it would bring endless opportunities to learn about different topics and fields.

What makes you happy? 

It makes me happy when after a lot of hard work you see an idea or a project becoming true or real. We often have our heads in lab experiments with a succession of fails and restarts (it is just how it goes). We realise what we have achieved and that what we thought could happened in a cell a few months or years ago, is now scientific facts that can go out of the lab to be used to actually help people in daily life. In my personal life, being surrounded by my relatives is what makes me the most happy, I realise that anything else doesn’t really matter during these moments.

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

Even if we are working in labs with tubs and samples without really interacting with patients, we never lose the main purpose of our work. We are working to make people’s lives better. My main ambition in this field is to produce good and reliable science that can be useful for both clinical fellows and fundamental researchers around the world to join forces and come up with new therapeutic strategies. If a new molecule was commercialised and that I have been a part of the discovery I would be very proud.

What is your favourite hat

The beret because it will never be out of fashion and can be wore in very different occasion (although it might be because I am French!).

Who inspires you?

Without any hesitation, my uni professors. They are inspiring to me when they manage to communicate their love in their field to students. I think they have the tremendous responsibility to make students want to carry on their studies and believe in what they want to achieve during their career. My parents inspire me too, because they taught me to be independent and think by myself.

What is your favourite memory?

This one is tricky. I have many, but if I have to pick one, I would say Christmas 2011, we went to Tanzania with my parents and my four brothers and sisters for a safari. It was spectacular and magical. Once we woke up in our tent in the middle of the savanna, surrounded by a buffalo herd, it was unreal.

What has been your biggest challenge?

So far it has been my PhD. Every PhD student needs to produce a good paper to be able to apply for grants and post-doctoral position, it is the first step in research. The stakes are high, and you have to really commit to it. 

Why did you choose your profession?

I am not sure I have chosen it. I went into biology study because I loved science without really knowing what I wanted to do. I continued my study as long as possible, it was a way to have more time to think through a possible future career. I then did an internship during my masters, it was my first time in a lab and it didn’t make me feel like work, it was really fun. It has been a revelation to me, I have found a job area where I don’t feel that I am working. Besides, I don’t say “I am going to work” but “I am going to the lab”.

Find out more about the work carried out our Centre of Excellence at Queen Mary University of London.