Filipa Simões is a finalist for an exciting new award launched by design company, Knomo, linking their 15 year anniversary with International Women's Day 2019.
Filipa was nominated by her husband, André Neves, for her leading academic research on cardiovascular regenerative medicine, and pushing to keep on top of her career alongside raising two children, while also finding the time to further the interests of undergraduate students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Cardiovascular disease leading to myocardial infarction is the major cause of ill health and death in humans. Filipa's work centres around the issue of the irreparable damage that heart attacks cause in humans. While this damage leads to permanent loss of cardiac tissue in humans, zebrafish maintain an ability to regenerate cardiac muscle lost by injury.
To understand how the heart in this vertebrate repairs itself, I decided to focus my research on identifying the regions of the zebrafish genome that give heart cells their defining regenerative characteristics. Interestingly, many of the genes that give the zebrafish heart its regenerating properties are found in the genomes of non-regenerative mammals, including mice and humans. By gaining novel mechanistic insights into the genomic regularly code preventing the mammalian heart from switching from a scar-based repair to regeneration in response to injury, we are setting the stage for new approaches to stimulate the human heart to mend itself following injury.
- Dr Simões
Alongside this, Filipa works hard to raise the profile of undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds by providing the opportunity for them to gain top quality experience in the lab.
I am committed to foster the interest of girls and young women in science, to which non-stereotyped role models are so important. I have been able to secure funding to host bright female undergraduates over the summer, who can experience first-hand biomedical research in a world-class setting, encouraging their consideration to embrace a future career in science.
- Dr Simões
Cardiovascular regenerative medicine is an extremely competitive scientific area, and Filipa has faced the challenge of combining a demanding job with significant family commitments over the past few years. She successfully juggles her full-time job and demands of a young family through a high degree of planning, organisation, and a supportive and flexible laboratory environment.
I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by enthusiastic and inspiring mentors, who nurture my scientific and personal development. I constantly push myself out of my zone of comfort and that keeps me passionate about what I do. I am at a critical point of my career, when so many successful female scientists begin to fall behind their male colleagues and are unable to progress to lead an independent team. Initiatives that can raise awareness to this fact and that can somehow help override the day-to-day challenges that arise when trying to combine my vocation for science with my wonderful family are truly welcome!
- Dr Simões
You can find more information about the Award here.
Full details on the finalists including a video from the judging panel can be found here.