Email: marina.fukano [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Research Area: Breast Cancer Metabolism
Faculty supervisor: Dr. Morag Park
Tell us a bit about yourself: I am a Ph.D. student originally from Japan and also lived in Poland when I was younger. I came to Canada six years ago to study Biomedical Science at the University of Ottawa. My supervisor is Dr. Morag Park and I also have a supervisor from the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), Dr. Geneviève Deblois.
1. Why did you choose the GCRC? I realized early on in my undergraduate studies that I had a passion for cancer research. For my Ph.D. project, I really wanted to study cancer by collaborating with clinicians. While working on my undergraduate research project at the University of Ottawa, I met a professor who happened to be a previous trainee at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre (GCRC) and who recommended me to come here. I then got to know about Dr. Morag Park’s research and I thought it was the perfect fit for what I was looking for. What I like about this place is that all the lab teams work closely together. It’s a whole community aiming for the same goal to find better treatments for cancer. I was looking for that kind of collaborative environment and I found it here.
2. Tell me about your research in three sentences or less? My project studies a subtype of breast cancer that still needs more effective targeted therapy. We look at how different cancer cell populations, found within tumours, use different nutrients and communicate with each other. By understanding the biology of this tumour, we are one step closer to finding new treatments for patients.
3. What excites you most about doing research? What I love about my research project is that the models we’re studying are representative of cancer patients. We’re also using novel technology that allows us to study tumours very precisely, at single-cell level. I believe that findings, whether big or small, in each research project will eventually improve the outcome of cancer patients.
4. What is your favourite thing to do outside of the lab? Dancing – it’s my biggest hobby. I’ve done it my whole life. I did ballet when I was younger and in high school, I danced competitively in a team where we choreographed our own pieces. Now in Montréal, I’m doing jazz and taking dance classes in Les Studios where many of the instructors are current or former dancers from Les Grands Ballets. I also love running – I did a half a marathon a few years ago in Magog!
5. What are your plans after leaving the GCRC? After graduating, I’d like to pursue my career in research. My ultimate goal is to become a physician-scientist because I really want to work directly with patients and conduct research to contribute to clinical advancements. That will involve many more years of school and training, so I still have some way to go!
6. What will you miss the most about the GCRC? Definitely the Park lab and the people at the GCRC! Also, as Vice-President of the Goodman Cancer Student Society (and soon becoming co-president!), I’ll definitely miss organizing all the student activities including all the fundraising events and interacting with people at the GCRC through these initiatives! I’ve been fundraising for the Défi Canderel recently so people should definitely check out our page if they want to support cancer research at our centre! Here it is: https://deficanderel.com/participant/1279313
*6 Questions With is a new GCRC initiative focusing on the students behind the lab coats. Our trainees 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.