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The Institute of Cancer Research attracts the very best science graduates and clinicians to carry out cutting-edge research and make the discoveries that defeat cancer. Our students enjoy working in a high-tech and collaborative environment, in which their research can be translated into direct benefits for patients.

Laura Jochem

Laura Jochem

Laura is a Cancer Research UK-funded PhD student in the Division of Structural Biology, working to understand how deregulation of a protein known as RNA polymerase III can cause cancer.

What is your educational/work background?

I did a Bachelors degree in Chemistry and a Masters degree in Biochemistry at the LMU in Munich prior joining the ICR

What are you studying now/who with?

I am doing my PhD in Alessandro Vannini’s lab in the division of Structural Biology. Our lab is mainly focussed on understanding transcription of the RNA Polymerase III system since it has been shown that a variety of cancer cells show increased levels of RNA Pol III products.

My project aims to understand the structure and thereby also the molecular mechanism of TFIIlC, which is a transcription factor and one of the main regulators of the RNA Polymerase III system.

Why did you want to study at the ICR?

I was attracted by the high quality research and the friendly and open environment when I came for my interviews.

What’s the best thing about working at the ICR?

It’s great to work together with brilliant people from all different backgrounds in a very inspiring environment.

Also, here at the ICR we get regular access to Cryo-electron microscopy facilities such as eBIC, which is an indispensable requirement to study the structure of large multiprotein complexes.

What opportunities has studying at the ICR given you?

I have had the opportunity to participate in several training courses and conferences in the UK and abroad. Furthermore, the ICR also provides a lot of internal training courses to enhance your skills and to further your career.

Talk us through your typical day

There is no typical day as such to be honest. I would say the only typical ritual is having lunch together with my colleagues ;)

At the moment I am for instance doing a lot of computer work to process large data sets that we collected at electron microscopes recently. On other days, I am mostly doing bench work in the lab.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I really enjoy that every day is different and that you have the freedom to organize most of your days yourself.

What do you do to wind down?

I play volleyball with the University of London team, like to go running and joined BMF, which is a sort of an outdoor boot camp in parks in London. Besides that, a visit to a local pub is of course also a good possibility.