Faces of the IRCM - Julie Lacombe

Faces of the IRCM - Julie Lacombe

 Julie Lacombe, Researcher and research associate
Scientist and transmitter of knowledge

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.

A passion for science is at the heart of the professional life of Dr. Julie Lacombe, Research Associate in the laboratory of Dr. Mathieu Ferron. For the past decade, she has been working with us on a wide variety of research projects. For the past ten years, in particular, she has been working primarily on the beta cells that secrete insulin, and studying how vitamin K affects the function of these cells. Her name has recently been mentioned in the media in connection with her work, which holds very real promise for people living with diabetes.

But science is not an island, and Julie Lacombe perfectly embodies what the spirit of collaboration and knowledge transfer can mean for the future of research.

‘’On a day-to-day basis, I'm involved at one level or another in almost all the lab's projects, often starting them myself, with students taking over from me.’’

With an impressive pedigree that has taken her from Montreal to New York, Julie, who began her PhD in molecular biology at IRCM, has returned to put her knowledge to good use in the community. It's no coincidence that she's come full circle. She underlines the scientific excellence of the Institute, a major asset for a scientist who wants to spread his wings.

‘’It's one of the best research institutes in Montreal and Canada, and I don't think I could be in a more interesting place for research.’’

Among the IRCM's strengths, which in her eyes make it a prime place to work, Julie highlights the valuable role of platforms in supporting science, which, she points out, adds an important dimension for research teams.

‘’We have access to a precious resource. When we think of an experiment to carry out, everything is possible here. I don't remember ever saying to myself: ah, that one, we can't do that here at IRCM. The colleagues on the platforms are so competent, so helpful...the collaboration is incredible.’’

The collaboration she finds with platform colleagues extends to the whole Institute. She herself is a major contributor to this collaborative added value. For the past six years, she has been a mentor in the MCM program, leading one of the student integration modules for the Institute's flagship program.

‘’This module serves to better equip them before they embark on the rest of the program. It's a fairly intense two weeks during which I give theoretical lessons on basic techniques in molecular biology and biochemistry, and at the same time we do experiments in the lab. For example, they have to clone a gene, express it in bacteria and purify the corresponding protein. It's very hands-on for them, and it's always linked to lab projects, which makes the work all the more relevant to them.’’

It's enough to give the next generation a taste for science and the IRCM.

Thank you, Julie, for all your scientific and human input!

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