Constanza Martinez Ramirez
Email: constanza.martinezramirez [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Research Area: Breast cancer and metastasis
Faculty supervisor: Dr. Morag Park
Tell us a bit about yourself: I’m a PhD student at the GCRC. I did my 7-year medical degree back home in Santiago de Chile at Universidad de los Andes. I moved to Montreal 3 years ago where I started at Dr. Park lab and also assisting tumour boards in the hospital. Although I had a great amount of clinical practice in Chile, I was lucky enough to take part in international exchanges which sparked my desire to move to abroad. I found research was lacking in my professional training and Canada is one of the top places for research and graduate studies.
1. Why did you choose the GCRC?
I chose it based on the Professors and wanted to work with Dr. Morag Park. I wanted to focus on oncology and translational research and learn about the multitude of resources available such as the use of clinical material and collaborations with clinicians. Now, playing an important role by being part of the team in charge of the clinical material that we biobank to be used for research and ultimately help patients.
2. Tell me about your research in three sentences or less?
Using patient material, preclinical models and sequencing technologies, I look at different types of tumour cells in space and time. I identify distinct tumour cells in tissue sections and select for markers to spatially map these cell populations in the primary tumour and metastatic disease. This way I can understand where the most aggressive cells are localized and how they interact with other cells to choose more effective therapeutic targets.
3. What excites you most about doing research?
I’m excited about the system we developed because it will be available to be used by anyone doing research and I think It will bring deeper biological insights about disease progression. Clinically, it may even help to select for better treatments and ultimately improve patients’ outcomes.
4. What is your favourite thing to do outside of the lab?
I love field hockey and am a part of the Varsity team here at McGill. I love soccer, biking and scuba diving too! Everyone always asks me where I scuba dive and you’d be surprised to know there are all sorts of places you can do it, even in Quebec! Lately, I dove on a small island called Malapascua in the Philippines, and in Koh Tao, Thailand, but there are also many places here in Quebec and in Montreal. It’s so fun! I’m certified to scuba dive with a specific type of air that allows me to stay deeper for longer time (~30 metres for ~25 minutes – the standard time is usually 15 minutes). You can see a multitude treasures that far down, my favourite has to be the sharks and turtles!
5. What are your plans after leaving the GCRC?
After finishing, I plan to do my Medical residency in Internal Medicine and possibly specialize in oncology. My end goal is to become a physician-scientist, either in the oncology field or maybe a doctor who treats patients who have pressure changes associated injuries… for example while in the ocean or flying.
6. Do you have anything that you’ll remember about your time at the GCRC?
I’ll miss the friends that I’ve made and the international and multicultural environment that I feel is unique. I’ll miss the Friday spotlights and the socials at Thompson House. I’ll definitely miss the people the most!
*6 Questions With is a new GCRC initiative focusing on the men and women behind the lab coats. Our students are the heart and soul of the centre and we want to put a face to the names by learning what they are up to both inside and outside the labs.