1. Tell me in 5 words who is Barbara Mair?
A curious, caring, determined, passionate sports enthusiast.
2. What made you join CeMM?
After doing my diploma thesis in a very basic research oriented field, I was eager to move into a more translational science direction and was particularly intrigued by the genomics and systems biology focus.
3. What is it about science that interests you the most?
That fact that there are always more questions than answers, and that you will never stop learning, no matter how much you already know.
4. What is the best career advice you ever received, or you can give to the CeMM community?
There were a few funny ones I heard from various mentors and colleagues - I often quote “after problems, more problems”, “always only load half” (of your sample e.g. on a gel), “95% of things don’t work as you thought” or “it takes double the time plus 1 hour than what you planned”. There were of course more serious ones – I always listened and then tried to find out what works for me.
5. Tell us what happened to you after you left CeMM?
I left CeMM at the end of 2014 to move to Oxford with the rest of Sebastian Nijman’s lab. The start there was a bit rough, at times I spent more time with a screw driver than with a pipette in my hands and at the beginning we could not even make agarose gels work. But eventually things fell into place and early 2017, I wrapped up my PhD (still affiliated with CeMM/MUW) and headed off to a postdoc at the University of Toronto with Jason Moffat and Charlie Boone. After 3 (at times very cold, but very rewarding) years in Canada, I moved back to Europe and decided to take the leap to industry. I am now leading a lab as Principal Scientist in the Cancer Cell Signaling department at Boehringer Ingelheim, where we try to discover new cancer drug targets. So far, it has been eye opening to learn how much more there is to bringing a drug to the market on top of a good target, and I am very much enjoying the multidisciplinary interactions and multi-faceted nature of my job.
6. What book do you have on your night table at the moment?
“Atomic Habits” by James Clear (but admittedly, I haven’t really got very far with it yet).
7. What is the last song you heard?
“Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down, a throwback moment.
8. Any message you would like to give to the CeMMies or a former colleague?
Enjoy the ride at CeMM, learn as much as you can and cherish the friendships and connections you make there, they are built to last – and doors will always open.
Barbara Mair completed a PhD in Sebastian Nijman’s group, first at CeMM and later at the University of Oxford (UK), working on gene-drug interaction screens. She then moved on to the labs of Jason Moffat and Charlie Boone at the University of Toronto for 3-year postdocs, continuing to work on genetic interactions and CRISPR screening technology. Currently, she is based in Vienna, leading a lab in early drug discovery for oncology at Boehringer Ingelheim.