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Q & A with Dr Sylvia Kocialkowski

In the autumn 2014 issue of The Grey Matters, our printed newsletter, we featured an interview with Dr Sylvia Kocialkowski, one of the leading researchers we fund. You can read the full interview below.

Dr Kocialkowski is part of a team we are funding at the University of Cambridge to uncover the role of the BRAF fusion gene in pilocytic astrocytoma brain tumours. The project is being led by Professor Peter Collins and builds on his previous findings around the importance of the gene. If successful, the work could help diagnose and treat pilocytic astrocytomas in future.

What inspired you to become a researcher?

I never cease to be amazed how science can explain the natural world. At university I discovered how science can also cure diseases and I decided to do research into cancer.

What excites you about your job?

Everything! It is very exciting to get an original idea that might lead to a solution and to design and optimise an experiment that gets a result. It is exciting too to read about the latest discoveries, have discussions with colleagues and attend talks on related projects. Being a researcher is an interesting and worthwhile job.

Can you give us an idea of your typical day?

A typical day is split between work at the lab bench, doing the actual experiments, writing protocols and processing and analysing data. The day is planned around the experiments which usually involve several steps stretching over a few days.

Why is more money needed for research?

Because the cure for brain tumours will come from research. Recently, there has been a surge of new discoveries into the genetics of the different types of brain tumours and this progress must be sustained with more funding.

What is the potential of the work you're doing with Professor Collins?

Professor Collins's lab was the first to discover a fusion gene in a paediatric brain tumour. The gene, called BRAF, is now being studied to try to reveal its contribution to the tumour process. Knowing precisely what this 'cancer' gene does could potentially allow us to disable it and therefore control the evolution of the tumour.

If you did a fundraising event, what would it be?

I would like to take part in The Twilight Walk Windsor in October!