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A journey fuelled by more than good luck

Mousumi Majumder

When someone tells Mousumi Majumder, PhD, that she is lucky, she quickly corrects them as she knows her success is a result of her hard work.

“I do not believe in luck, and I do not believe in destiny — I believe in myself and my work ethic,” Majumder said. “If I believe in something, and I am focused, I know that my hard work will pay off.”

Born and raised in Eastern India, Majumder completed her undergraduate, master’s and PhD degree in Cancer Genetics. After working with cancer patients throughout her PhD, she knew that she wanted to contribute to the field in some way.

“I saw so much pain, working on cancer patient sample collection in India,” she said. “I am an emotional and passionate worker, and somehow I got connected to those patients and it has motivated me.”

When she began looking for a postdoctoral fellowship, she applied to Dr. Peeyush Lala’s lab in Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, and was quickly offered the position.

Majumder has now been a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Lala’s lab for five years. She has had the opportunity to work on and oversee a variety of projects, including research focusing on the biology of COX-2 in breast cancer progression and metastasis.

Majumder has found that COX-2 induces breast cancer stem cells and micro-RNA, which is detectable by a simple blood test. She hopes this research method will eventually help to eliminate breast cancer through early detection.

Her commitment to research and hard work has paid off. During her fellowship, she has published six papers and received 12 awards, including the 2013 CIHR Young Investigator Award and the Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit-Postdoctoral Fellowship from 2012 to 2015. She also recently won first place at the 3 Minute Research Competition.

Majumder explained that Canada has not only given her the opportunity to further her research. It is also where she gave birth to her daughter.

While she admitted that balancing life as a new mom and her research was exhausting and challenging at first, her husband kept her home front easy and Dr. Lala and the rest of his lab offered her a lot of support and guidance, making it easy for her to combine both of her passions.

“When I go home, I am 100 per cent her mother, and when I am here, I put 100 per cent into my work,” she said. “It’s all about finding that balance.”

Majumder is currently looking for a faculty position, where she would like to continue her research independently. Until then, she will be continuing her research in Dr. Lala’s lab as well as taking on a new challenge: teaching the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology’s 4429A Advanced Medical Cell Biology course in the next fall session.