Face of the IRCM - Sarah Boissel

Face of the IRCM - Sarah Boissel

Sarah Boissel, Head of the molecular biology and functional genomics platform
A passion for the bench and for science

NB: This series of encounters highlights the diversity of the members of the IRCM community, the variety of their expertise and the depth of their commitment to their respective roles.

For the neophyte that is the author of these lines, the important role of the technological platforms in the chain of research work of the institute has something mysterious and unknown. Sarah Boissel, who has been in charge of the Molecular Biology and Functional Genomics platform for more than two years, puts a face and a context on these crucial teams, without which the science born in our laboratories cannot take shape and reach the patient.

The Molecular Biology and Functional Genomics platform offers a range of services combining advice and access to cutting-edge techniques to meet the needs of gene analysis. However, managing a technology platform means acting to provide laboratories with the elements necessary to carry out their research in an optimal context, while respecting technical and financial constraints. Agility and creativity are required to develop or perfect existing technologies, and sometimes to create new ones. At the frontier of science and technology, this expertise is combined with often tight deadlines, without ever sacrificing the precision that must underlie excellence in research. It's a demanding canvas, but one that suits Sarah's nature perfectly. Having previously conducted her own research, she appreciates the ever-changing nature of her work.

‘’With this work, you stay in academic research, which was important to me. I wanted to continue to work in support of the universities, the students. And I like the pace, even though it is demanding, with clients who are in a hurry 99 percent of the time. There's never any routine, no weariness...’’

This agronomist by training, who quickly branched out into genomics, has an impressive scientific career (she is, among other things, the winner of the 2010 Jérôme Lejeune Young Researcher Award) that has taken her from the Necker Hospital in Paris to the IRCM, via the IRIC and Sainte-Justine. Genomics is her passion, in her very DNA. 

She speaks with emotion about the warm and friendly welcome that paved the way for an efficient and harmonious integration into the IRCM team, which she describes as a golden team: "People who are as competent as they are rigorous, who gave me their time without counting the cost, who made room for me and allowed me to get to know the organizational culture. A team that is highly involved and close-knit, with very complementary strengths as well. And the more I work with them, the more I appreciate their calibre.’’

She also emphasizes the great benevolence of her immediate supervisor, Judith, as well as that of Dr. Côté, who, from the outset, gave her carte blanche in a climate of trust conducive to optimal professional development.

It is very stimulating and rewarding. I find that at the Institute, there is a happy mix of scientific rigor, high standards and kindness. They are open-minded, understanding people, it is rich, varied and stimulating.

When she applied for the position she currently holds, she didn't hesitate, even though at the time, as a mother of very young children, the project could be a little dizzying.

‘’I couldn't not apply. It was the concretization of my entire career, I had the scientific tools, the knowledge, it integrated everything.’’

Responsible for a team of three people, she divides her time between management, accompanying the research projects of her users, students and lab directors, developing protocols and the financial side of all the activities of the platform. With a little space, from time to time, for the bench, a passion that remains very much alive in her.

‘’For me, being on the bench is meditative, it's relaxing. I try to give myself a few moments, especially when my assistants take their vacation," concludes Sarah, laughing.

Thank you, Sarah, for your professional vitality!

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