Brittany B. Campbell
My story with the Institute of Medical Science started in 2013, fresh out of my Bachelor’s in Biology, invigorated by a passion for cancer research. I had spent several summers prior in various summer research programs before enrolling into graduate school. My supervisor, Dr. Uri Tabori, presented me with the option of studying a rare syndrome in children that predisposed them to various cancers early in life. The potential to help this rare population and also extend these findings to the larger cancer community convinced me to jump right in.
Graduate school is a metaphor for life in that it is an iterative process of planning, failing, learning, re-planning, failing and trying again. Through more cycles of this than I care to admit, we had our first break-through paper in Nature Genetics in 2015, followed by a protocol-changing paper in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2016 and finally my first-author publication in Cell in 2017. These publications put me on the world stage for cancer genomics, a field which I have grown to love more every day.
I picked up several vital, transferable career skills throughout my time at the IMS. I learned to code and manipulate large datasets. I learned how to give polished scientific presentations in front of hundreds of people, including influential leaders in my field. I learned to manage projects and collaborate internationally with physicians and scientists all over the world. Perhaps most importantly, I learned to self-motivate in the face of unimaginable doubt and ambiguity. I learned to trust myself.
My PhD at the IMS was a period of aggressive learning and intense personal growth. It was undoubtedly an enormous risk and an even larger reward. I encourage students to trust the process, envision a greater goal, and seek motivated mentors in their graduate studies. The supportive environment and funding opportunities offered to me by the IMS, under the direction of Dr. Mingyao Liu, were instrumental to my success and therefore was, in hindsight, the best place to choose.