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My Journey From BioGENEius to PhD Student

May 29, 2015
For as long as I can remember, I've known that research and biotechnology would be a large part of my life. Science has always been a passion of mine, and I was lucky to be guided into the laboratory at an early age. In 11th grade I met my mentor, Dr. Angela Crawley, when she was a post-doctoral fellow working in Dr. Jonathan Angel’s laboratory at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Here, I was introduced to some of the advanced research techniques I showcased during the BioGENEius Challenge.

I have continued to apply the skills I learned during my BioGENEius research to date. My interests in science led me to enroll at Queen’s University where I earned my Bachelors of Science (Hon.), with a major in biology and a minor in psychology. My education enabled me the opportunity to dig into my own research and pursue new endeavors.

I co-founded the Queen’s University’s Internationally Genetically Engineered Machine Team. Our team explored a commercial aspect of atherosclerosis treatment, and earned a bronze medal during our presentation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Encouraged by what science and biotechnology had to offer, I continued my studies at Queen’s in a Master’s program. I was then promoted to the PhD program. I am currently working on the therapeutic implications of calpains in cancer.

I believe that getting my PhD will allow me greater autonomy in my future research. It has also allowed me to explore my research interests while using the skills and techniques I learned in the past.

Thanks in part to my exposure to the business side of science at the BioGENEius Challenge, I equally understand the importance of having a background in business, both from a venture capital and biotech industry standpoint. In order to build those skills, and contribute to the Queen’s community, I sit on the Queen’s University Board of Trustees and Capital Assets and Finance Committee. I believe that success will be defined not only by the ability to discover novel therapeutics approaches, but also by the ability to communicate the impact and commercial potential to a business audience. I am now nearing the end of my PhD, and have solid preclinical model data supporting the rationale for calpain inhibitors as adjuvant treatment for breast cancer. I delivered a summarized PhD seminar in April and have now begun writing my publications highlighting these findings.

Ultimately, I aim to combine my love for science with business by using research to pursue exciting therapeutic opportunities that can be successfully brought to market. My main goal is to translate basic research discoveries into therapeutics to improve the lives of those suffering with disease.