In today's Behind the lab coat Q&A we speak to Chris Pepper, a Cardiff University Professor, who has been researching the signalling pathways and molecular mechanisms that promote drug resistance in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia for 15 years.
"What's the best high and worst low about your job?"
"What would be the one thing you would say if someone said science was boring (or scientists were boring)?
I’m a self-confessed geek but I definitely don’t think that scientists are boring…maybe a bit weird, but not boring! What we do need to do a whole lot better though is explain in simple terms what it is we do to the general public...and perhaps more importantly WHY we do it. Lots of scientists are committed to their subject because they’re driven by a very human and compelling back story. We need to show that human side more and engage in the scientific debate not just with cold rationale and logic but with passion and humanity.
"How do you explain your research to people at a party?"
In truth I normally avoid talking about my research at parties - even I need a bit of time off occasionally! That said, if I’m asked (and I often am), I say that me and my team are trying to understand why people with blood cancer accumulate white blood cells in their body...so what makes these cells survive?... and what makes them grow? By understanding these things, we’ll be able to develop better treatments.
“What do you like to do to unwind when you're not researching?”
I love to go the gym or go for a run…that is a real stress buster for me. I also really enjoy cooking, which conveniently dovetails with one of my other passions…eating!
"What one thing would you tell your 21-year old self?”
Work with people who are cleverer than you - life will be a whole lot more interesting and rewarding.
“What’s the funniest or most embarrassing thing to happen to you in the lab?”
One of the most embarrassing things that has happened to me was at an LLR open day. I gave a big build up to the group of patients and their families about how technological advances in cell sorting were transforming our ability to understand the biology of leukaemia cells…then the cell sorter just refused to work…very embarrassing!!!