Professor Francesca Buffa carried out her PhD at the ICR, developing mathematical models to predict how cancers respond to radiotherapy – and how hypoxia affects this response. She is now at the University of Oxford where she leads a computational and systems biology laboratory.
Following her Master’s degree in Theoretical physics at the University of Turin, Francesca carried out a PhD at the ICR in Physics and Mathematical Modelling.
“The learning curve in my first year of PhD studies was very steep, but I enjoyed every minute of it,” she says. “The ICR provided a lively scientific community where learning was fun, and new ideas could be discussed and explored. I was mentored by, and worked with, a great team of scientists – and entering a new field of research opened amazing possibilities.”
After completing her PhD, Francesca has continued her career within academia – undertaking postdoctoral research at the ICR, the Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology & Biology and University College London before moving to the University of Oxford. She now leads an interdisciplinary laboratory, bringing together multi-omics and computational science to understand cancer as a complex system.
“My aim is to deliver powerful methods to interpret genomics, biological and medical data – and help generate useful clinical tools,” she says. “I also love to teach and discuss with students about methods and knowledge that did not even exist a few decades ago.”
Francesca is also passionate about inspiring the next generation of biomedical data scientists who will deliver the medicine of the future.
“When I was a student, the fields of computational biology, genomics and bioinformatics did not even exist – but these are now well-established, rapidly expanding fields of research,” she says. “The message is to be bold: you have the chance to help shape the future of biomedical research.”