On Saturday 11 February we will be celebrating the 8th International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
Unfortunately, women only represent the 30% of the world researchers (source: UNESCO). And this disparity becomes even more pronounced as we progress in our scientific career, with only one quarter of senior positions being held by women (source: SheFigures 2021).
So, what can we do? We know how much representation and visibility matters, not only to inspire the future generations, but also to boost the progress and stabilisation of early career researchers. In line with this, the women in Anderson’s team thought we could lead by example, showing you the huge variety of research roles we are undertaking.
In the Anderson lab we all share a common purpose, understanding the biology of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) with the final goal of delivering more personalised medicine. But we hold very varied responsibilities in this path. From carefully processing the cells and tissues we receive in the lab, designing the experiments that will allow us to understand the mechanisms that mediate disease risk, generating tons of data from those experiments, to finally curating and analysing that data!
Michelle Strickland - Senior Research Assistant
Part of my work is to take blood and small samples of people’s gut and separate individual cells. We then sequence the DNA of each cell to see how each cell is behaving and how the same cells are different between healthy and IBD patients.What I enjoy most is the support and drive of all my colleagues - lab, clinical and bioinformatician - as a team it feels like we can achieve anything!
Menna Ghouraba - Advanced Research Assistant
I design and carry out experiments that help understand human disease and how to treat it. I am most excited when experiments work and help understand something new about disease!
Jasmin Ostermayer - Advanced Research Assistant
I generate data from the RNA from individual cells(what we call single cell RNA sequencing) from the gut and blood. My goal is to understand why the response to IBD treatments differ from patient to patient. I enjoy overcoming challenges and improving lab procedures, so we can get the best data from all the different cells.
Maria Torra I Benach - PhD Student
I am investigating how inflammatory bowel disease affects the cells in the gut to better understand the disease and help develop new drug targets. What I enjoy the most about my job is that I learn something new every day and that my work could have a positive impact on someone’s life in the future!
Lucia Ramirez - PhD Student
I am exploring how the immune cells in the gut differ to those in the blood for IBD patients to further our understanding of the disease. One of the things I enjoy about being a scientist is that initial moment when you discover something new that nobody else knows!
Harriet Banks - PhD Student
I am studying the genes and pathways involved in relevant immune cells when they are treated with a commonly used inflammatory bowel disease drug to understand why this treatment does not work for all patients. What excites me the most about being a scientist is knowing that our research may one day positively benefit the lives of many patients!
Cristina Cotobal Martin - Senior Staff Scientist
My role involves designing and performing experiments in the laboratory using clinical samples from patients with IBD to study the genetics of individual gut cells and the biological mechanisms causing the disease. What I found most inspiring about my job is working with scientists of different backgrounds (many are very talented women) with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of patients suffering from this disease. One of my female role models is Barbara McClintock, she has widely contributed to understand many of the genetic regulatory mechanisms.
Monika Krzak - Postdoctoral Fellow
As a computational biologist, I am analysing large-scale sequencing data from patients with IBD to identify genes, cell types, and cellular processes that are involved in Crohn’s disease pathogenesis. The most exciting thing about my work is knowing that my research results can contribute to the identification of novel drugs for IBD patients and improve their daily life.
Laura Fachal - Senior Staff Scientist
I study which little misspellings in the book of instructions that contains the information for making us (our DNA) modify our chances to develop IBD (and why!). What excites me most about my work? Learning something new every single day, from my own research, patients, my colleagues, other teams – it still amazes and thrills me being aware of how much I don’t know and how much there is to learn. I have multiple female role models. One of them is Margarita Salas, she discovered the Φ29 phage DNA polymerase, establishing the bases for a DNA amplification technique used in single cell sequencing!