It’s exciting to cure cancers that are considered incurable, says postdoc Marie-Claude Bourgeois-Daigneault
In the world of academia, postdoctoral fellows are considered some of the most important drivers of innovation and discovery in Canada. This is the first in a series of profiles that will shine a light on postdoctoral research at the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine.
Q and A with Marie-Claude Bourgeois-Daigneault
Q: As a youngster, what excited you about becoming a scientist?
A: Even as a kid, I always enjoyed conducting experiments. I remember growing beans and hatching eggs in elementary school, but it really got interesting in high school when we got to dissect animals in biology class and experiment with chemical reactions in chemistry class. I am a curious person and having the opportunity of figuring out the unknown has always been exciting for me.
Q: What attracted you to the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine?
A: I wanted to develop cancer treatment strategies and found that the research conducted by Dr. John Bell was a perfect fit for me. So, I began in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology in April 2013.
Q: What excites you about your work?
A: Our team works on the understanding and development of oncolytic viruses, which are able to specifically infect and kill cancer cells. Our goal is to develop novel treatment options with minimal side effects for cancer patients. It is impressive to see how some drugs can make some cancers disappear very quickly, and it is extremely exciting when we are able to cure mice that have cancers that we usually consider “uncurable.”
Q: What do you see as the role of the postdoc within the larger research team of grad students, principal investigators, technicians, etc.?
A: I think postdoctoral fellows have a central role within their research teams. They should design their own projects, be active in the lab and mentor grad students.
Q: What would readers find interesting about life as a postdoc?
A: Postdoctoral fellows get to travel to conferences, to present our discoveries and collaborate with various groups worldwide. This is the most exciting time of a scientific career as we are highly trained and productive in the lab and therefore benefit even more from the resources we have.
Q: What are you up to when you’re not doing research?
A: When I am not doing research, I like fishing, going for long walks in the forest with my dog and getting together with friends to enjoy cold beers.
The Postdoctoral Fellowship: a critical rung on the ladder to scientific success
A postdoctoral fellowship is completed between a PhD and a permanent faculty position in science, helping lay the foundation for a successful career in health research and science.
Securing a university faculty position is competitive, with perhaps hundreds of applicants for a single job posting. Catching an employer’s eye requires producing quality research and work experience with top institutions and investigators. Postdoctoral fellowships help researchers do this.
In not having to juggle the course load that a student would, postdocs are able to devote more time to research, and contribute enormously to an institution’s research and publication intensity. Training to become principal investigators themselves, postdocs also mentor and train lab members by sharing techniques, knowledge and ideas, and are instrumental to the smooth running of many laboratories.