Completion date: PhD (non-clinical) 2014
Dr Fiona Rowan was awarded her PhD in Biology and Chemistry at The Institute of Cancer Research in 2014. She is now an early-career academic scientist, pursuing her goal to one day lead her own research lab.
Fiona’s PhD involved studying a molecule called Aurora-A, which is a promising drug target for treating cancer as it is a key ‘switch’ in driving cell growth. Her discoveries helped develop a better understanding of how its activity is turned on and off – moving us nearer towards identifying potential new cancer drugs in the future.
After completing her undergraduate studies, Fiona was certain that she wanted to be a cancer researcher. She chose to only apply to do her PhD at the ICR. “It has such a well-respected reputation as one of the leading cancer research institutes in the world,” she explains.
During Fiona’s time at the ICR, she particularly enjoyed presenting her results at an international conference every year. Reflecting back on her achievements, she says:
“I am particularly proud of my two first-author publications, one of which was highlighted by F1000Prime as a substantially important, high impact article. And I was also thrilled to win a prize for my presentation at the annual ICR Conference.”
“The ICR is such a nice place to work with fantastic people,” she says. “I really appreciated the opportunity do a multidisciplinary PhD and was inspired by seeing the direct effects of the research happening there on patients.”
Since graduating from her PhD, Fiona has continued with her research career with postdoctoral positions at the University of Southampton then at Imperial College London. She recently has applied for independent fellowships and, if successful, she hopes to be able to start her own team and take forward her own research ideas.
“I feel so privileged to have done my early research training at the ICR, which has provided me with an excellent foundation towards achieving my ultimate career goal – to gain Professorship status and become a lecturer in cancer research,” she says.
Video: Fiona talks about an innovative experimental technique for studying enzyme functions