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Maria Vinci

Dr Maria Vinci joined The Institute of Cancer Research in 2008 as a postdoc in the Tumour Biology and Metastasis Team, led by Professor Sue Eccles. Maria felt so at home that she stayed for a second postdoc, moving in 2012 to the Glioma Team, led by Dr Chris Jones. Her work focuses particularly on paediatric high-grade gliomas: rare but devastating brain tumours that affect children and young adults and for which there is currently no treatment. "We're discovering which mutations drive these paediatric tumours and how distinct they are from adults. Our hope is to move towards testing new targeted treatments that will improve the outcome of these young patients."

Maria VinciMaria relishes the opportunities provided by the close multidisciplinary teams at the ICR, and by collaborations with clinicians in London's hospitals and other scientists worldwide. Much of her unique project is possible only because of access to tumour tissue samples, from which a more detailed and accurate insight into the disease can be gained than from standard laboratory tumour cell lines. "Knowing we are working with patients’ samples really pushes us towards that goal of defeating this cancer."

In addition to this main goal, during her first postdoc, Maria has been able to grasp opportunities to reduce reliance on animals in research. With funding from the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research she has been able to develop three-dimensional 'micro cancer’ models. These are physiologically relevant laboratory models of tumours and offer more predictive responses of new treatments in vivo than standard two-dimensional adherent cultures.

Maria doesn't just have a passion for doing research: "I like engaging people with science and the ICR encourages me to talk about my research. I recently took part in two different schemes for communicating research to politicians. I like the challenge of these kinds of competitions, but more importantly I can see how much we can benefit from engaging more with people who can support our research.”

And there's plenty more to life outside the laboratory. "I have a young daughter – she’s 6 years old. I love spending time with my family in London's wonderful parks, as well as having friends around and cooking Italian dishes."

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