On International Day of Women and Girls in Science, commemorated by the United Nations each February 11, we celebrate the incredible contributions of women at BC Cancer in advancing health care through science and innovation.

Maryam Sharifiaghdam, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics, is one of the researchers at the BC Cancer Research Institute who is working towards BC Cancer’s mission to reduce the burden of cancer in the province.

Read the Q&A below to learn more about Maryam’s her work, inspirations, and advice for other women and girls who are interested in pursuing a career in science.  

Can you tell us a bit about your work?

My research focuses on advancing more effective and safer approaches to cancer treatment through drug formulation, relying on the utilization of drug nanocarrier technologies to find the most effective dose for patients with fewer side effects.

What led you to a career in science?

In my early years, the wonders of science deeply captivated my imagination. The narratives of scientists uncovering breakthroughs with the potential to enhance our lives filled me with immense joy. Their work not only astonished me but also ignited a dream, instilling in me a strong desire to contribute to the scientific progress. As I matured, my curiosity about the intricacies of how things work deepened, and I discovered great joy in the realms of reading and learning.

Upon meeting my future spouse, I enthusiastically shared my interest in biological research, and from that moment, his guidance and encouragement became instrumental in reinforcing my pursuit of this captivating subject. Exploring the mysteries of biology, understanding life, and simultaneously receiving unwavering support from my family have formed the solid foundation for my career in science. This journey has been a harmonious interplay of curiosity, mentorship and familial support, shaping the researcher within me and propelling me forward on a continuous quest for knowledge and discovery.

How have you confronted gender biases that often hold women back in STEM fields?

I have confronted gender biases by staying true to my passion and abilities. Rather than letting stereotypes dishearten me, I focused on showcasing my skills and dedication. Building a supportive network, both professionally and personally, has been crucial. I believe that by sharing experiences and advocating for gender equality, we can break down these biases and encourage more women to pursue their dreams in STEM.

What you are most proud of in your career?‎

In my career, my pride doesn't stem solely from specific achievements but is deeply rooted in the challenges I've conquered along the way. I find immense satisfaction not just in the destination but in the path I've navigated to reach this point. The journey has been marked by resilience, determination, and a continuous commitment to personal and professional growth.

What is one piece of advice you can give to women who are considering a career in science?

To women considering a career in science, my advice is to believe in ‎your abilities and let your passion guide you. Seek out mentors who inspire and support you, and ‎don't be afraid to break through cultural or gender barriers. Your voice is essential, and the world ‎of science becomes richer when diverse perspectives come together. Remember, every challenge ‎is an opportunity to grow, and you have the strength to make a lasting impact in the scientific ‎community.‎

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