Karla Queiroz — The “I” in Mimetas
This interview is part of a series of conversations with the people working at Mimetas. “The I in Mimetas” focuses on the personal side of the scientists that drive our world.
Today we sit down with Karla Queiroz, Senior Scientist Application Development and glass-half-full enthusiast at Mimetas.
How did you get your academic career started and what is so interesting about doing research?
To be honest, it has not always been my dream to become a researcher. During college in Brazil, I got inspired by some of my biochemistry professors, which is where my interest in research started. I particularly like to figure out how signal transduction pathways rewire to promote, for example, chemo-resistance in tumor cells. The cool thing about research is that, on the path of discovery, many things can be surprisingly useful. Your starting vision is only a small part of the end result. Of course, research can sometimes be quite restrictive, being only relevant for a few scientists. However, at Mimetas we work towards real-life applications for the models we develop. That enables us to put our research into a bigger picture. The discoveries we do in the lab are important, not only because of their scientific value, but also because of the potential use of a model in, for example, personalized medicine.
What project would you consider your most significant career accomplishment to date?
I like one of the articles from my PhD in particular. I had a lot of freedom to plan and execute experiments, which meant that it felt like a very personal project. I wanted to find a weakness in a drug-resistant cancer cell-line to overcome the resistance. Many pathways were upregulated, which made it difficult to determine where to look. After a lot of screening, I found a vulnerability. The Hedgehog pathway proved essential for promoting survival in this cell line. Treatment with Hedgehog pathway inhibitors rendered these cells sensitive again to different drugs they were once resistant for. Even though the article wasn’t very complex, I’m really happy with it. I had a major role in designing everything, and it felt very satisfying to get the results I aimed for.
If you could send a message to yourself 10 years ago, what would you tell the younger you?
Focus on the “glass half-full”, rather than worrying too much. I used to some times at first only picked up on negative parts of a message, but nowadays I actively try to keep the positivity in mind and approach everyday events that way.
What are you most excited about working at Mimetas?
I like the diversity of my week. I get to talk to many different people, doing collaborations and discussing with clients. Other than that, the working environment is very positive at Mimetas. I really like the vibe of the company. Also, my colleagues are very sociable. I don’t know which causes which, but I’m sure it’s not a coincidence.
Could you name a strength and a weakness of yourself?
I think I have one answer for both, and it’s applicable professionally and personally. I get very enthusiastic easily. It makes me very open for new ideas and questions, which is good. On the other hand, that can also make me a bit unfocused. Sometimes you have to be able to buckle down and go for the questions which are most relevant. That’s why I think it’s both a strength and a weakness.
What do you like to do outside of working hours?
I have a three-year-old, with whom I like to spend as much time as possible. Other than that, I enjoy the simple things. I like reading, as do most people, and cooking Brazilian food (when I find the right ingredients). My most recent project is growing a garden in my apartment. I put plants on my balcony if they can deal with cold nights, otherwise I have them inside.
What is your favorite quote, song or belief, anything that you live by?
I live mainly between the 60’s, and 80’s regarding music. I haven’t quite reached the 00’s yet. I’m really into Brazilian music from that time. I like the song “Dom de Iludir by Caetano Veloso, which contains the following sentence, loosely translated: “Each of us knows the good and the bad of being who we are.” My personal interpretation of this line is that we know our own essence and dealing with it is part of one’s life. I think that accepting your essence allows you to be more open to all other people.
Interviewed by Indi Joore