Congratulations to Dr Esain Garcia

Congratulations go to Isabel Esain Garcia, who was recently examined by Dr Stephen Neidle of UCL and Dr Julian Sale from MRC-LMB on her thesis that included two main projects each exploring aspects of DNA G-quadruplex secondary structures and their interactions with chromatin, transcription and epigenetics.  She passed with flying colours and enjoyed the whole experience.  Well done Dr Esain Garcia!

Bel joined the group as a PhD student in October 2019 following the successful completion of a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry at Imperial College, London.  Not only has Bel been an integral part of the group for the past 4 years, but she is also multi-talented and, outside her research, is an exceptional musician and player of the baroque viola da gamba instrument.  She has also skied competitively at the national level in Spain.

Bel has been very active during her time in Cambridge.  She took part in STEM for Britain at the House of Commons, where she was awarded the Physiological Society Prize 2023 after presenting her work on investigating DNA structure and its importance for regulating the expression of cancer genes in the human genome.  Bel commented on the experience, “I entered STEM for Britain because I think one of the most beautiful things about science is having the opportunity to share your discoveries and motivation with the wider community. The fundamental science that we do is so vital to society, medicine and industry. I believe that the future of medicine will rely on genetic methods for personalised treatments and precision therapies. Hence, translating the progress from a laboratory bench to influencing policy making is crucial for a coordinated effort between scientists, policy makers and health regulators.

Being selected as one of the finalists and having the chance to present my discoveries in front of MPs and members of the parliamentary scientific committee was an incredibly inspiring experience. It definitely made me think about how the work I do fits into today’s society. All the research in the room was ground-breaking, that’s why I could not believe it when I was awarded the Physiological Society Award 2023 this year. Receiving such a prestigious award and seeing interest from everyone in the work I do every day, drives me to continue working hard. I am striving to take us closer to a future of precision medicine tools.”

Another of Bel’s highlights was a trip to Stockholm.  She was nominated by the University of Cambridge to participate at the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS) and was chosen to attend by the Swedish committee.  She says, “I participated in the SIYSS 2023, as one of the 18 young scientists from all over the world selected to present their discoveries. During the week, I presented my work in front of full auditoriums, attended the Nobel lectures given by these year’s laureates and press conferences, participated in the ‘Minds of the future’ panel, moderated by Anna Sjöström (Nobel Foundation) where I got to discuss with this year’s Chemistry laureate Prof Moungi G. Bawendi (MIT) future solutions to global challenges, climate change and artificial intelligence, visited the key technological and scientific institutions in Stockholm and finished the week by attending the Nobel Ceremony and Nobel banquet.”

Bel is currently still with the group as a PDRA leaving at the end of July when she moves to continue her academic career at Berkeley in the USA to work with Jennifer Doudna.  We wish her every success.