Becky Cook



BA (Hons) – Natural Sciences (Pathology) at University of Cambridge. PhD – Institute of Cancer Research


BA (Hons), PhD

Work History:

I carried my PhD at the Institute of Cancer Research

Current Job:

Post-doctoral research at UCL Cancer Institute


University College London

Me and my work

I grow cancer cells in dishes to learn about how they behave.

I study a particular protein called Retinoblastoma Protein, in a large number of cancers this protein is turned off to allow cells to grow out of control. This means  in normal, healthy cells this protein protects you from getting cancer. My research has shown that this protein protects the DNA (genetic material) in a normal cell from becoming the bad type of DNA (mutated) that can lead to a tumour.

My Typical Day

Check emails, feed my cells, analyse some data, set up or finish an experiment and finish the day with some reading of other scientists work.

One of the best things about being a scientist is that I don’t really have a typical day! My days are very varied, I am mainly based in the lab doing experiments, in order to figure out how the protein I am interested in protects DNA. I also spend time reading, responding to emails and importantly talking to other scientist about my work. Talking about my research or other people’s research is a very important part of my job but also something I find extremely interesting.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Organised, intelligent and dependable.

What living thing amazes you the most?

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I went to a music festival in a zoo!

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Not really. I once broke a clock playing with an inflatable ball in a classroom but luckily didnt get in any trouble.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

A football referee – I’ve been a qualified referee since I was 14.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Presenting my work in front of a nobel prize winner!

Who or what inspired you to become a scientist?

Two of my grandparents died of cancer before I was born and this inspired me to get involved in the fight against cancer.

What would your superpower be?


If I could change one thing about the world...

I would eradicate all forms of cancer.

My favourite CHRISTMAS LECTURE memory is:

I really enjoyed last years lectures on alchemy because Pete Wothers was my Chemisty lecturer at University so it was exciting to see someone I knew doing the lectures!

The most Fantastic thing about Life is:

Other stuff

Show us where you work:

This is my (slightly messy) lab. myimage1

In these flasks my cancer cells are growing, the pink liquid is called cell culture media and contains all the nutrients the cells need. myimage2

These are cancer cells I have grown in the lab and then using special dyes to stain the DNA blue. The red dots show where the DNA is broken and I look how quickly cells repair these broken bits. myimage3