Would you like to study Sciences in the UK? Hear Dr Bubeck’s story and learn more.

About Dr Doryen Bubeck

Dr Bubeck’s (PhD Biophysics) research at Imperial College London is looking to make a difference and improve our health. You too can join a world-leading scientific community where women are supported to succeed at Imperial, a one-of-a-kind university in the UK, focusing exclusively on science, engineering, medicine and business.

Speaker profile 

What motivated you to study in the UK?

When I decided to take up a postdoc at Oxford, I was looking for a place with state-of-the art research facilities, an international reputation for scientific excellence, and culturally a bit of a different experience than the US mid-Atlantic. The UK was a perfect fit.

What was the greatest challenge you experienced when studying abroad?

The move like any other was challenging at first, new lab, new colleagues, and new city, but things quickly settled into place and I’ve been here now for over 10 years! I’ve started my own research group at Imperial College, one of the world’s top universities, and am leading a team of researchers to make breakthroughs in the most significant medical health challenge we face today.

Why did you choose Imperial College London?

I started my independent research career at Imperial College. What stood out at Imperial is its interdisciplinary and collaborative research culture. As a trained biophysicist, I spend most of my time at the interface between the physical and life sciences. I have been able to collaborate with physical chemists, synthetic chemist, and material scientists that have helped take my research in new and exciting directions.

What was the most valuable experience about studying in the UK?

Experiencing the way other people view the world is an incredibly valuable experience.

What inspired you to become a Structural Biologist?

It was an undergraduate research experience that inspired me to understand how proteins work at a molecular level. I was working as a research assistant in the laboratory of Joachim Frank. He was just beginning to develop computer programs for analysing protein images collected on an electron microscope, a method he was later awarded the Nobel Prize. I still remember how amazing it was to actually see these proteins in 3D on the computer for the first time.

What are you working on at the moment?

My most recent work investigates how the immune system fights infection and what happens in our bodies when that goes wrong. Using state-of-the-art electron microscopes, we can see how proteins come together to fight infection in atomic resolution detail. We can then use this information to design new therapeutics that can improve human health.

What do you consider your biggest achievements?

My proudest achievement, besides balancing a career in science with being a new mom, is uncovering how an immune pore called the Membrane Attack Complex is formed. These pores punch holes in cancer cells as well as other challenges to the immune system. They were first discovered over half a century ago; however, only now with work done in my lab, can we see this complex in 3D and determine at a molecular level how it works.

If you had the chance to give advice to your younger-self, what would that be?

I would tell my younger-self to never say an experiment “didn’t work”. Every experiment gives you some information, even if it wasn’t the information you were looking for. The important thing is to design an experiment so that you answer a series of small questions definitively, rather than one big question all at once.

What skills and abilities do you consider important for women to develop?

As scientists we’ve been trained to think critically, to problem solve, and to be creative with our ideas. We have not been trained to manage, provide direction, and perhaps most importantly, motivate a team. I think this is an area particularly important for women to engage with.

What advice would you give to women who are thinking about studying in the UK?

Studying abroad is an exciting and life changing experience. There are lots of resources available to help you find the right University and funding opportunities such as the Fulbright Scholars scheme to support you.

Describe your experience in the UK in 3 words: adventure, friendship, and innovation.

I am inspired by my students.

I am passionate about discovery.