“If not me, then who? If not now, then when?”
Personally, I am an introvert person, still I would like to share my journey with the world today.
I feel proud to introduce myself as a cancer researcher. My schooling was in VNSC, followed by Bachelor of Pharmacy and Master of Clinical Pharmacy & Pharmacology from University of Dhaka. Despite having an impressive trend of academic achievements, I wasn’t sure about the best course of career path. Looking back- I can see people envisioning me to take up a career in corporate world following the path of a business leader like my dad, or a dynamic corporate engineer like my sister. During my Bachelor year III, I was chosen to represent Bangladesh at an international platform (Novartis BioCamp, Tokyo). Being one of the youngest participants in that event, I had the opportunity to meet and listen to successful global leaders in biotech industry and academia. I was inspired to take up research as my career and continued my preparation accordingly. During my M.Pharm at DU, I worked in Incepta Pharma as a marketing executive and prepared for my studies overseas. I knew this corporate job is for an interim period, and glad that I didn’t have to take up Pharmaceutical marketing as a career option. I moved to Sydney for M.Phil at the faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney followed by PhD in Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Macquarie University. Since then, I am working as an expert in Cancer Proteomics at the Children’s Medical Research Institute, University of Sydney. Anyone interested in my area of work, can follow these links to explore.
However as any other girl from our background, my journey wasn’t smooth all along. The struggle from past 12 years has turned me into a mature, confident and resilient individual. I strongly believe this journey would have been impossible without my better half on my side. I am fortunate to have a strongly supportive and dependable partner. We started our partnership under challenging circumstances and continued to fight together just not for a successful marriage, but also for individual accomplishments.
Like any other job, research is stressful and wet lab tasks doesn’t maintain specific hours of operation. Sometimes the experiments need to be monitored under strict intervals, sometimes an error occurs which can’t be fixed remotely. Which means the responsible person end up in the lab at unexpectedly late hours. I have the experience of rushing to lab after social dinners even night before eid. Years ago, when we didn’t have a car- my husband would travel hours to accompany me from lab at freezing winter night. I still remember the day we had to spend a night at ER with my sick child- I was in final year of PhD and a crucial experiment was underway. I went straight to lab once the hospital discharged him in the morning, while my husband took him home and looked after till I returned in the evening. Many a times, after spending spend months on an project, the experiments don’t work out and the whole hypothesis ends up with a negative outcome. I am lucky to have a shoulder waiting for me to cry out and carry on. Alhamdulillah for everything, this person is a blessing in my life from Almighty Himself.
Anyone who has idea about the life of an international student abroad would be able to feel the struggle of this young pair. I don’t want to continue explaining how difficult those circumstances were- only Allah is the witness of our hardship. Looking back at those days, I am thankful for those experiences that trained me to cook from scratch and taught how to distribute the care for a newborn between work and study. Despite my pregnancy and childbirth during PhD, Allah helped me to finish the degree right on time- with 3 publications and a provisional patent. This was a crucial episode as international students are liable to pay for any additional days needed for submission- which was not a small amount for us.
I am grateful to my PhD supervisor who provided complete flexibility and support to a foreign girl who is culturally completely different from him. He is widely reputed in research community as the perfectionist- who doesn’t stop to scrutinize and criticize until the outcome is flawless. To my surprise, he continued to arrange funds for me to present in international conferences and overseas training- which was an added stress for us as we had to arrange funds for my husband and child to accompany me. Thankfully I ignored all the negative comments from my close ones and decided to travel as a family. Three of us traveled throughout Europe and US under strict budget, eating dried and canned foods that we carried from Sydney. I cant stop smiling when thinking about those priceless moments. Our struggle continued until we got permanent residency and white collar jobs straight after. I won’t go into detail of those battles, as I hate to seek sympathy.
Alhamdulillah time has changed now- but I don’t want to forget those difficult years and how people reacted to our troubles. I learnt to embrace the reality and handle every crisis throughout this roller coaster ride.
“When life throws a lemon at you, make lemonade out of it”
Some of the studies by Sadia Mahboob:
Some of the studies by Sadia Mahboob: