I decided to specialize in cancer biology and immunology during my master studies in Life Sciences at EPFL. The combination of the two disciplines is really exciting because it has allowed the emergence of new therapeutic strategies against cancer that give tremendous results in the clinic. These therapies (called the immunotherapies) aim to boost the recognition and elimination of the tumor cells by the immune system, resulting in a drastic tumor reduction in certain patients. While these results are extremely encouraging, there is still an important fraction of patients that do not respond to these therapies or experience severe side effects, which motivated my decision to orient my research carrier in this direction. Following on this goal, I benefited from a very rich scientific environment at EPFL during my master, both in terms of classes and lab experiences.
Following these experiences, I had the chance to do a one-year master project in Boston at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. I joined the laboratory of Mikael Pittet who conducts impactful studies in cancer immunology and notably studies the mechanisms of action of a certain type of immunotherapies that is particularly effective in certain patients. Joining this laboratory was an amazing opportunity to start my carrier in cancer research: I developed great scientific and technical skills in a dynamic and motivating environment; I had many opportunities to attend scientific symposiums that gathered some of the most inspiring scientists in the field, and I developed an important scientific network. Moreover, the overall positive and exciting working environment that I experienced in Boston changed the way I tackle challenges today: with more confidence, optimism and excitement. This experience greatly contributed to my professional development.
Furthermore, I experienced in Boston a culturally diverse environment that was also extremely enriching, with infinite opportunities to meet people from around the world and learn about their cultures and history. Being in this multicultural environment was incredibly inspiring, where cultures seemed to be mixed and combined to create new ideas, new inventions and a beautiful human experience. I could only recommend spending some time abroad, both to promote someone’s personal and professional development.
Therefore, I would like to thank the Fondation Zdenek and Michaela Bakala for its generous support that greatly contributed to make this adventure possible. It has been a life-changing experience that now gives me the best chance to start my professional life in cancer research, and to participate in the fight against cancer!