Stefan Piatek



The Petersfield School (99-04), Alton College (04-06), Imperial College (07-11)


Biomedical Research MRes, Biology BSc, and a VTCT 2 in Massage

Work History:

WHSmiths, Lush, Massage Therapist, Labs in France and Imperial College.

Current Job:

PhD Student


I’m at Imperial College London but funded by MRC & Asthma UK Centre

Me and my work

I grow human lung cells and work out how their machinery might help to treat asthma.

Asthma is surprisingly common, and we have a lot of really good treatments for it too. Unfortunately we don’t have good treatment for about 1/10 patients, which ends up making their life really hard or even life threatening!

I’m looking at a part of the machinery of lung cells (a single protein for three years!), and how it turns on and off different genes. We think that its really important in what happens in asthma, and it should help us understand the disease.

I chose this project because it was a really interesting interaction between the lung cells and the immune system which is often overlooked in asthma.

My Typical Day

Sometimes relaxed, sometimes hectic, the only thing that is always a part of my day is coffee and tea.

I always start my day the same, but what I get up to and when I finish varies, I’ll pick what I did today to give you an idea of what it’s like.

  • Cycle in to work, have a delicious coffee and work out what I’m going to do for the day
  • Fed the lung cells that I grow
  • Detected what levels of immune system-activating secretions are given off my lung cells when I expose to them to an allergen
  • Tea and lab meeting at 12:00, half of it was spent with someone presenting what they had done in the last 6 months. The other half was spent eating cake for two people’s birthdays!
  • Quick check of emails and facebook.
  • Run a quick experiment using samples from earlier on in the week, I detected if the gene for my favourite protein is turned off or on if we stimulate the lung cells with an allergen.
  • Chance chill out! Delicious drink and analysed results to find out what’s been going on when I expose my cells to allergen.
  • Head to the pub with friends from work!

Some days are so busy, other days I’m just reading up on what other research as shown and chatting to people in the office to avoid the reading!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Curious, hairy, caring.

What living thing amazes you the most?

My two nieces.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

My girlfriend says that this should be something about her.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Nothing horribly serious, had my fair share of detentions.

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

Maybe a chef or baker, both of them are pretty similar to what you need to do in science, follow recipes and create new ones!

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

I’ve only been a scientist for a short time, but getting to move to the South of France for a year was great

Who or what inspired you to become a scientist?

Thinking back, probably my A-level biology teacher, he was super enthusiastic

What would your superpower be?

Either stop time or teleport, I guess if you could stop time you could just walk there though.

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

I’d make everyone more equal

My favourite CHRISTMAS LECTURE memory is:

The most Fantastic thing about Life is:

that it happens at all! It relies on so much happening by random movement (though that doesn’t mean by chance)

Other stuff

Show us where you work: