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576: Changing How We Think About Cancer by Revealing the Critical Role of Context in Tissue Specificity - Dr. Mina Bissell

People Behind the Science Podcast - Stories from Scientists about Science, Life, Research, and Science Careers

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Dr. Mina Bissell is a Distinguished Scientist in the Life Sciences Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Mina is working to understand why the cells in a particular part of your body form the structures they do and not something else. Tissue and organ specificity are fundamentally related to cancer. When cells forget their tissue-specific functions, they can begin to pile up, form tumors, and travel elsewhere in the body. In her free time, Mina loves to exercise, spend time with her family, watch theatre performances, read, go hiking, and work in her garden. She received her B.A. in Chemistry from Radcliffe College and a M.Sc. in Bacteriology and Biochemistry as well as a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from Harvard University. Afterward, Mina was awarded a Milton Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University followed by an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley. She started off at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory to study cell biology and cancer viruses and has dedicated over 40 years of her career to exceptional research there, rising through the ranks to her current position. Mina has received many awards and honors during her career. Just to name a few, she was awarded the highest award of the Department of Energy called the Lawrence Award, the Lifetime Achievement Prize from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the American Cancer Society’s Medal of Honor, the Susan G. Komen Foundation Brinker Award, an Honorary Doctorate from Pierre and Marie Curie University, and many more. In addition, Mina has been elected as a Member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. She is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Royal Society of Chemistry. A few years ago an award in Portugal was created in Mina’s name, and the Mina J. Bissell Award is given every 2 years to a person who has changed our perception of a field. In this interview, Mina shares her journey through life and science.


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