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Serena Lucotti

2012 - 2017, Prof Ruth Muschel

Project: Effects of aspirin on experimental metastasis

Dr Serena Lucotti was an Oxford Cancer funded DPhil student from 2014 to 2017 supervised by Professor Ruth Muschel. During her DPhil, Serena studied the effect of aspirin and other anti-platelet drugs on cancer metastasis, which led her to discover a novel platelet signalling pathway that supports tumour cell dissemination through the bloodstream. Her work identifies new targets and therapeutic opportunities for the prevention of metastasis in cancer patients.

Following her DPhil, Serena continued her research as a postdoc, remaining in Prof Muschel’s Mechanisms of Metastasis group. She subsequently moved to a postdoctoral position at Weill Cornell Medicine, where she is currently based. Hear from Serena about her DPhil below:

What outcomes have resulted from your DPhil?

My DPhil was extremely productive in terms of personal and professional growth. I have learned and developed many diverse lab techniques and I have produced enough data to publish a first author paper in JCI among others. I am also currently preparing a further 2 first author papers and 3 co-author papers as a result of the work carried out in Oxford. Throughout my DPhil I have also initiated long-term collaborations with groups in Oxford and beyond (Queen Mary and King’s College/University of Bristol). 

How has your time here influenced your subsequent career?

During my DPhil I have learned the technical and theoretical skills that will allow me to pursue future research projects and I have started to define the research niche that I would like to focus on as an independent investigator. Thanks to my supervisor Prof. Ruth Muschel, I have learned to become a careful, independent and critical researcher, a skillset that will immensely help in my current and future scientific career.

What advice would you give to current students?

The DPhil experience was unforgettable and all its ups and downs have made me the researcher that I am today. To current students I would suggest to live their DPhil with enthusiasm and curiosity and to make the best of both successes and hard times. I would strongly advise them to actively search and nurture collaborations very early on in their programme. Finally, I would tell them to always give their best and to not give up on negative results, because perseverance and eagerness will always allow them to achieve their goals.

Any publications, achievements, or plans you’d like to highlight or comment on?

I have been recently awarded the ‘Italy Made Me’ prize by the Italian Embassy in London for the research project carried out during my DPhil. I have also received a pump-priming grant to fund the last year of research at the University of Oxford, which will greatly benefit my career prospects and transition to an independent investigator.