by Professor Maddy Parsons
Professor of Cell Biology, King’s College London
I was absolutely thrilled when I heard I had won the Biochemical Society’s 2019 Industry and Academic Collaboration award! Working with multi-disciplinary groups has been a huge part of my career, and something I’m extremely passionate about so it’s a particularly huge honour to be recognised for this aspect of our work.
I’m a cell biologist, and my team is focused on trying to understand how cells sense their environment and how this process changes in diseases such as cancer and fibrosis. Our research has always relied on collaborations with a lot of scientists in other disciplines, including physicists, clinicians and computational biologists. We also work a lot with pharmaceutical and microscopy technology companies to develop new ways to use imaging to study cell behaviour. Their input has been enormously important to help us make discoveries in this field and to understand how we might be able to use this knowledge to treat human disease. I think collaboration is a really important part of being a research scientist; we all stand to learn a lot more by working together, and it’s brilliant to brainstorm ideas with people who think very differently from you. This has really allowed us to explore some exciting avenues in our projects that we would never have thought of otherwise and has also built some fantastic friendships along the way! It’s also great for the people in my lab as I think it opens new doors for them in terms of training, but also future career options.
Receiving this award at the Biochemical Society’s ‘Cell Signaling and Intracellular Trafficking in Cancer Biology: Interplay, Targeting and Therapy’ meeting in Turin was a great honour for me. There were a lot of people at the meeting that I’d collaborated with in the past and it was a lovely opportunity for me to thank them for their contributions, and also to present some of our unpublished work in the field – alongside some fabulous food and wine! I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to work with so many outstanding researchers from all over the world and this award is really for them as much as it is for me! So many thanks to the Biochemical Society for the recognition, I really do appreciate it!
[Rivka Isaacson who nominated Maddy provided us with the following quote: “Maddy is a lovely, excellent human being and mentor to so many, as well as being a superb, productive, multidisciplinary scientist and it is rare to find all these attributes in the same person. I can’t think of anyone who deserves this prize more as she does so much to link up industry and academia in a symbiotic way to advance the fields of microscopy and all the important processes that can be explored using the diverse powers of the techniques. Having put so much effort into prize nominations over the years, and being one of Maddy’s biggest fans, it was a happy day for me when I found out that she won.”]
Each year the Biochemical Society makes a series of prestigious awards that recognize excellence and achievement in both specific and general fields of science. All of our awards and medal lectureships carry prize money and all award-winners are invited to submit an article to a Society-owned publication and present their research at an event. Nominations for the 2021 Awards close on 31 January 2020. Visit www.biochemistry.org/Awards to find out more.