From molecular research to Molecular Oncology

Career paths in science can take interesting turns when one embraces new possibilities. In this post, one of Molecular Oncology’s new editors shares her journey of uncovering her passion for scientific writing and editing
From molecular research to Molecular Oncology

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As I reflect upon my career trajectory as an editor for Molecular Oncology – an open access journal focused on basic, translational, and clinical cancer research, and one of the four journals in the FEBS Press portfolio –  I am reminded of the pivotal moments that have led me to this point. Born in India, my fascination with biology emerged early in life, as questions surrounding genetic resemblance between me and my twin sister along with the intricacies of medicine ignited a profound curiosity within me. Nurtured by my parents' unwavering encouragement to pursue a lifelong passion, I embarked on a scientific journey that would begin with my integrated bachelor's and master's course at IISER-Mohali, India. It was at IISER-Mohali that my scientific journey truly took flight. From engaging in annual summer internships from my first year, to crafting experimental designs for challenging research problems and honing my reviewing skills, I was actively constructing my scientific toolkit. My master's thesis, conducted under the guidance of Dr. Mahak Sharma, exposed me to the thrill of eureka moments in research. This experience ignited a deep desire to delve even further into the realm of molecular exploration, leading me to enroll as a doctoral student in molecular and cell biology at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, under the mentorship of Prof. Dr. Gislene Pereira.

My PhD years were a blend of exhilarating highs and challenging lows. Amidst the intellectual rigors of research, an unexpected turn of events occurred during my second year—a global pandemic brought the world to a standstill. Stranded in India, far from my lab in Heidelberg, the lockdown initially provided a respite from the lab bench. However, as days turned into weeks, I found myself yearning for the lab's familiar rhythm. It was during this time that I turned to scientific writing, immersing myself in manuscript summaries and virtual discussions with peers across the globe. This experience catalyzed my interest in scientific communication, prompting me to pursue numerous courses in scientific writing and editing.

Stepping into editing

Driven by the desire to test the waters of a potential career path, I joined "PhDs of India", an initiative led by PhD students, as an editor. This role involved curating the journeys of PhD students and established researchers, offering insight into their scientific trajectories across diverse fields. Through dozens of interviews and articles, I discovered an unanticipated passion for writing and editing. Simultaneously, I remained focused on completing my PhD within the confines of my DAAD scholarship. Propelled by my newfound writing skills, I not only authored my first manuscript, which was accepted without any content editing, but also completed my doctoral thesis within a month—an accomplishment that further bolstered my confidence in scientific writing.

As I transitioned into the next phase of my journey, I joined CACTUS Communications as a freelance editor, immersing myself in the intricacies of scientific and copy-editing. This experience provided me with invaluable insights into the world of research integrity and enhanced my expertise in manuscript refinement. Simultaneously, I undertook a research integrity assignment with Wiley, solidifying my understanding of ethical practices within scientific publishing. Amidst these learning experiences, the opportunity to become a full-time editor at Molecular Oncology presented itself—an opportunity I embraced wholeheartedly. Since my first day in this role, I have reveled in the constant engagement with authors and reviewers, while also utilizing my scientific knowledge to assess manuscripts and investigate image integrity concerns. The sheer joy derived from my work is a testament to my passion for the field of scientific communication.

Reflecting on my journey, I am eager to encourage those who find themselves more drawn to science communication than conducting experiments firsthand. For individuals with a passion for reading, writing, and staying at the forefront of scientific innovations, a career in scientific editing holds untold possibilities. However, the journey towards such a fulfilling role requires meticulous introspection and exploration, allowing time for self-discovery. By aligning my career with my passions, I have cultivated a path that fuels enthusiasm and encourages me to work with unwavering eagerness each day.

 Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash 

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