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Florian is a DPhil student in Madalena Tarsounas lab and has just been elected as one of the student representatives.

In this interview, Florian gives an overview of his research, tells us about one of his greatest achievements so far, and talks about his ambitions as a student rep.

What topics are you pursuing in the lab?

I am a DPhil student in Madalena Tarsounas' group and I am focusing on BRCA1- and BRCA2-deficiency. BRCA2-deficient cells and tumours accumulate unrepaired DNA damage but are still able to proliferate. We found deregulation of the cell cycle, marked by a prolonged G1 arrest. My project aims to elucidate how BRCA1/2-deficient cells adapt to overcome checkpoints and continue proliferating.

Why is your research important?

BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are often mutated in many cancers, such as breast or ovarian cancers. Huge progresses have been made to treat BRCA-related cancers, especially with the introduction of PARP inhibitors in clinic. Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go. We are investigating mechanisms of tumourigenesis, genomic instability or synthetic lethality in order to better understand and treat BRCA1/2-mutated tumours.

How did you get to this point in your career?

After my undergraduate degree, I was very motivated to do research. I like accomplishment and to push projects forward. When I decided to come to Oxford, I received great support from my friends and also from my former supervisor, who encouraged me to pursue my academic studies.

If you had to name one thing, what is your greatest achievement since starting your DPhil?

For the last few months I have been working to help finishing a manuscript, which is now in revision – fingers crossed. I have to say, it is quite rewarding to see your work reaching this stage and being presented to conferences.
You've just been elected as one of the DPhil student reps, congratulations! Why did you want to be a student rep?
Angela and Giovanna did a great job as student reps, and I wanted to bring my own contribution. As I mentioned, I love to drive projects forward and as student rep there are many things that can be done. I would like to work towards making a better working environment and to encourage students to interact together.

When you're not working, what do you do to relax?

I spend part of my free time doing some sports or going to the gym. When I started my DPhil, I went back to Judo training after a few years of break. I am also a very sociable guy and I enjoy talking to people: it is remarkable how Oxford and the colleges form a great place to easily meet people with different educational or cultural backgrounds.