Email: reem.kurdieh [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Research Area: Breast cancer initiation
Department: Experimental Medicine
Faculty supervisor: Luke McCaffrey
Tell us a bit about yourself: I moved to Montreal 7 years ago from Lebanon where I was studying Dentistry. My family moved to Canada as the situation was becoming unstable back home. It was one of the hardest decisions my parents made but I’m glad we did it because now Montreal is home. Once I arrived here, I decided to change my area of study and completed my Bachelor’s in Pharmacology at McGill. Now I’m studying for my Master’s in Experimental Medicine.
1. Why did you choose the GCRC?
I was already at McGill studying diseases and when I saw that the GCRC focused on breast cancer, I knew straight away that’s the place I wanted to go. As a woman, breast cancer is an area I’m interested in. I also came across Luke McCaffrey’s research and wanted to work with him. Today he’s my supervisor and I am so pleased I ended up in his laboratory. I’m so lucky, he’s the best!
2. Tell me about your research in three sentences or less?
My research focuses on the initial stages of breast cancer and looks to see if normal cells are able to supress the formation of cancer cells. Using mouse models and 3d organoids, we’re trying to understand the early mechanisms that drive the initiation of breast cancer to help establish novel types of cancer prevention that have less risk and high benefit of treatment.
3. What excites you most about doing research?
I love the fact that we have 3D cell cultures that we’re able to use in the lab that mimic human/animal tissue organization- it means the technology that we have enhances the reliability of our research. I also enjoy working on trouble-shooting the system to help me address the aims of my project.
4. What is your favourite thing to do outside of the lab?
I’m really interested in the human mind and behaviour. Why people do what they do. I love reading about clinical psychology and sociology. I love finding out what makes some people successful in life and why others choose to commit crimes. I recently read a book by Canadian author Malcolm Gladwell called “The Outliers”. It talks about how successful people achieve great things not based on their IQ level solely but also based on the opportunities that they create for themselves. It was fascinating! I also love walking, visiting museums and discovering new neighborhoods in Montreal.
5. What are your plans after leaving the GCRC?
After finishing my Master’s degree, I plan to move to Ottawa where my fiancé lives and work in a pharmaceutical company. I would like to use the background I have in biology and medical diagnostics to make a mark in the world. I want to work first and have professional experience before deciding if I want to continue my studies and complete a PhD.
6. Do you have anything that you’ll remember about your time at the GCRC?
My friends! The GCRC is such a multi-cultural environment and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting people from across the world. It’s a special place. I’ll miss the trivia nights and the research days – all the social events that were organized are definitely a highlight for me.
*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.