Somaieh Hedayat is working towards a PhD on how the tissue microenvironment can affect the response of metastatic colorectal cancer cells to antiangiogenic therapies.
What is your background?
Before starting my PhD, I spent 10 years working as a Higher Scientific Officer (HSO) in the Drug Discovery Unit on target validation and cancer biomarker projects. After gaining experience in in vivo and ex vivo biology, I decided to adjust my career path slightly and in 2016 embarked on a PhD.
What are you studying now/who with?
My PhD project focuses on how the tissue microenvironment can affect the response of metastatic colorectal cancer cells to antiangiogenic therapies.
I work in the Gastrointestinal Cancer Biology and Genomics team under the mentorship of Dr Nicola Valeri in Sutton, but my project built on a phase II clinical trial carried out at The Royal Marsden Hospital.
We hope to understand the biology underpinning drug resistance in colorectal cancer and come out with a potential solution to revert it.
Why did you want to study at the ICR?
The ICR is one of the top higher education institutions in the UK. It is well known for its outstanding translational research, broad portfolio of clinical trials, and its state-of-the-art imaging, genomics and pre-clinical facilities.
While working as a HSO, I experienced first-hand the ICR’s scientific and academic successes and so always wanted to challenge myself and embark on a PhD program here.
What’s the best thing about working at the ICR?
I particularly appreciate the ICR’s partnership with The Royal Marsden Hospital. I have been fortunate enough to work with several clinicians and believe that this provides an unparalleled opportunity to identify areas of unmet clinical need and deliver patient-oriented results that will impact on society.
What do you do to unwind in your spare time?
I enjoy exercising, especially indoor spinning and Pilates. I particularly like to do this in the morning as it boosts my creativity, confidence, and resilience, both for work and my personal life.
When the weather is good, I also enjoy walking around London’s parks as this seems to refill my energy levels.
One fun fact about you
I am an extremely positive, sociable and outgoing person – making it fun to hang around with me!
Any tips/advice for future students?
My father gave me two pieces of advice when I came to the UK at the age of 18. First, always follow your gut and never be scared of failure.
Second, do something with passion or don’t do it all - without passion, success is impossible. I followed that advice and believe I’ve done well, so my advice to others is to be resilient and never give up on your passion.
Do you know what you want to do next?
I want to further my career in academic cancer research - I am very goal-orientated and so am doing my best to produce robust and reliable data, present at conferences and gain visibility.
What opportunities has studying at the ICR given you?
My initial 12 months as a PhD student have been incredibly rewarding. Working in a team of both scientists and clinicians has already provided me with extra skills and knowledge that will help progress my future career.
Interactions with leading experts in other laboratories has also boosted my research progress and my confidence.