From the classroom to the lab – women in science share their journeys

10 February 2017 | Science and research

Lucy is World Cancer Research Fund's Press and Communications Officer. She has a background in biomedical science and has previously worked as a clinical trials data manager at the Institute of Cancer Research.

The aim of the United Nations’ International Day for Women and Girls in Science is to inspire and engage women and girls around the world to participate in science.

This is a real problem – according to a recent study, the probability of female students graduating with a bachelor’s or master’s degree or a doctorate in a science-related field is significantly lower than that of male students.

Many of the scientists we fund are women, so, to mark this year’s event, we’ve talked to some of them and asked them about their inspirations.

Dr Eline van Roekel, currently leading our colorectal cancer survival programme, said: “Several people inspired me, including my parents who have always shown me that helping other people is one of the greatest things in life.

“I developed my interest in epidemiology and colorectal cancer survival research when studying biomedical science. Teachers and supervisors inspired me to build up my research career in these areas. Now I try to improve the life of colorectal cancer survivors through my research.”

It was the work of renowned scientist Christine Friedenreich on exercise and cancer survival that inspired grant holder Dr Brigid Lynch (pictured below) to undertake a PhD in the area.

“I was lucky enough to have Christine as one of my postdoctoral fellowship supervisors,” said Brigid, “and I’ve stayed in the same area for World Cancer Research Fund.”

Brigid is now working to find out how physical activity and sedentary behaviour might affect prognosis after a diagnosis of cancer. Her trial uses wearable fitness trackers to help increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour among breast cancer survivors.

She said: “This trial is ongoing, but we have had excellent adherence within the study to date. Anecdotally, the women taking part in the trial really like using the fitness bands, and say they are really helpful. We will have the final results from this trial by the end of the year.”

We fund and support scientific research into cancer prevention. All of our research has the same objective – to improve our understanding of cancer risk and how to reduce it.

Lucy Eccles | 10 February 2017