UCL Cancer Institute


Prof Simona Parrinello

Professor of Neuro-oncology and Head of the Research Department of Cancer Biology. Co-lead of the CRUK Brain Tumour Centre of Excellence (UCL & Edinburgh) and Samantha Dickson Brain Cancer Unit Lead.

Simona Parrinello

What inspired you to pursue a career in science? 
My dad is a physicist so I grew up surrounded by scientists and spent lots of time in his lab as a child. The thing that struck me the most was how passionate he and his colleagues were about science and how much they enjoyed their job. That planted the first seed and then biology was my favourite subject in school so I decided to do a biology degree at university. By the time a started my PhD, I was hooked and nothing else was as exciting, so I stuck with it.
Did you encounter any challenges because you are a woman?
Of course! I think the more senior you get the more challenging it becomes to be a woman in science (and most other careers to be fair). It is mostly about how difficult it is to be heard or taken seriously. It’s hard, but you learn how to deal with it with experience. It helps if you are good at seeing the humorous side of most situations!
Who is your female role model?
My PhD supervisor, Judith Campisi. She is an amazing woman and scientist and I learnt a huge amount from her. Smart, humble and always excited about science, no matter what.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
Probably still to this day it is publishing my first senior author paper.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t worry about how your peers are doing, just do your best science and have fun doing it.