Face of a new generation: Lili Grieco-St-Pierre, a scientist in the making

Face of a new generation: Lili Grieco-St-Pierre, a scientist in the making

For more than half a century, IRCM has contributed to the development and training of new generations of scientists from around the world. 

Every year, as part of its Master program in Molecular and Cellular Medicine (MCM), the Institute provides talented future scientists with a rich and global training that combines fundamental and clinical aspects. 

Among the most recent cohort, discover Lili Grieco-St-Pierre, a talented recruit with a promising future in science.

Tell us about your background
I have been fascinated by science since I was a child, and I have developed a passion for organic chemistry since I was in college. Therefore, it was only natural for me to turn to the Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at the Université de Montréal. In this program, I integrated the Honor pathway which allowed me, during the pandemic, to do two internships in the biomedial genetics laboratory of the CHU Sainte-Justine, where I worked on developing a protocol for mass spectrometer use for the determination of cystine. I am now doing my first internship rotation in Mathieu Ferron's laboratory at the Molecular Physiology Research Unit of the IRCM. In the summer, I will have the chance to join Jennifer Estall's team in the Molecular Mechanisms of Diabetes Research Unit.

What is your research work?
As an undergraduate, I developed a strong interest in metabolic pathways and their disruption. I was excited to learn about the multisystemic causes of metabolic diseases such as diabetes. In fact, I am currently tackling this in my first internship, focusing on beta cells which are the insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas. My research project aims to understand the function of proteins found in the pancreatic beta cell, that are dependent on vitamin K. The goal is to shed light on the potential link between these proteins and the development of diabetes, and to better understand the involvement of vitamin K. Through this project, I get to perfect my basic molecular biology techniques, such as cloning, but also to use more advanced methods such as mass spectrometry and CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing.

Why did you choose the IRCM MCM master program?
At the end of my bachelor's degree, I was curious to learn more about other techniques and other research fields. It was clear that I needed to choose a master's program that would allow me to have a diverse experience. At the IRCM, the different course modules of the MCM master's program are allowing me to visit the Institute's technological platforms. I can thus experiment new avenues and step out of my comfort zone. The possibility of doing two research internships also convinced me of this program’s relevance for me: it offers me a chance to immerse myself in two innovative projects and two distinct research environments. This is an exceptional added value of the MCM program and an ideal way to explore my interests before pursuing doctoral studies. Furthermore, since my arrival at IRCM in the fall of 2022, I have met people who are experts in their field; I have benefited from their teaching and created strong bonds with other students in the program. The feeling of being part of a real research community definitely contributes to my enthusiasm and commitment.

What did you get from this experience, so far?
The MCM program has provided me with a range of techniques and approaches, which fuels my creativity when it comes to addressing research questions. The highly individualized nature of the program, especially with the small number of students, and the chance of working with researchers who are truly experts in their field, give me in-depth knowledge and new skills. Finally, I have been able to benefit from a very good welcome and supervision aimed at my success and development. This is a dimension that I value a lot in my life as a student. I feel privileged to have met people from different backgrounds in this program and to be able to share with them my passion for science, my knowledge, and my ambitions.

What is your long-term goal?
Through this journey, I have been able to solidify my interests in metabolic health and it is in this direction that I plan to pursue a PhD. Later, I would like to conduct quality research that will impact science and benefit society. Doctoral studies are a great challenge, but they are also an opportunity to live a great intellectual and human adventure. I still don’t know to which career this path will lead me, but the MCM experience motivates me to move forward.

Besides science, what are you passionate about in life?
I am very committed to my studies, which is why it is important for me to take time to relax. For that, what better than a lively ethical or political debate around a good meal with the people I love! This type of activity combines my passion for cooking and my love of sharing. For me, the improvement of society goes through science, but also through good human relations: I like to take care of those around me. Many social causes are close to my heart, as well as my community. I am a hot yoga enthusiast and a reader of feminist essays; I never say no to a trip to the museum and I intensely cultivate my friendships.
To me, the intersection of science, culture, as well as engaging in relationships with those that surround me is vital.

Back to news list


events and more


IRCM Foundation

Be part of the

Support health research