Costanza Casiraghi

Chiesi Group
Pre-clinical Scientist
, Italy
The role of gammaherpesviruses in the development of autoimmunity
Marc Horwitz

Where and what is your current position?

My current area of activity focus on the pre-clinical development of drugs to treat different neonatal pathologies.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

I have been working as a researcher in non-profit organizations for almost ten years (5 years at UBC, 2 years at a research institute and 3 years in another University in Italy). When I started to do research 10 years ago, I did not have any specific plan, but, since I always like new challenges, I decided that I wanted to see how research and development are performed in the "pharma/biotech world".

How does this job relate to your graduate degree?

At UBC, I focused on the development and validation of in vivo models to study different human diseases. This is what I am still doing now. During my PhD, I learned how to formulate hypotheses and develop appropriate experiments to address them. I acquired different experimental skills to work with in vitro and in vivo models. I also developed excellent abilities in time and project management, key skills to work in a pharmaceutical company.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

I decided to come to UBC to pursue my graduate studies because of the excellent research groups that are part of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Faculty of Science. Additionally, during my first visit, I was really impressed by the very modern laboratories and research facilities. Finally, I was also attracted by the possibility to apply to UBC scholarships to have good financial support during my PhD studies.

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?

I really enjoyed the great working relationship I had with my mentor, the other professors, PhD candidates and post-docs of the M&I department. I am still in touch with many of them and I still learn from them benefiting from their career advice.

What are key things you did that contributed to your success?

When you are developing a scientific project, time management is crucial. You need to remain focus on the goal to be as productive as possible. A key aspect of a career in science is the number of scientific articles that you are able to publish: the more, the better. Peer-reviewed publications are the most important paragraph of your CV or resumé, either you want to pursue a career in academia or industry. Your articles show what your skills are and the quality of your work. As I described above, networking and presenting your work to the scientific community are very important as well. Always show to everybody how passionate you are about your work.

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

I think that the key word for success in science today is "networking.” I was able to secure good post-doc positions by attending national and international scientific conferences where I presented my work. Volunteering activities are also very important to make connections with other experts in different professional fields that could help you to build your future career. While in Vancouver, I was secretary and treasurer of the Society of Italian Researchers and Professionals in Western Canada. During this time, I had the opportunity to attend many events and meet a number of people that greatly helped me to shape my scientific career.