People in Profile: Nader Al Nakouzi

Meet Nader – he knows that in life and research, persistence is the secret to success.

Q: What is your research area and why does it interest you?
I study cancer treatments and I’m very interested in drug resistance and drug delivery systems. There is now a wide panel of drugs that can kill cancer cells, but the problem is getting those drugs to the right place and preventing cancer cells from escaping. As part of Dr. Daugaard’s team at the Vancouver Prostate Centre, I’m now working on a novel strategy of using a malaria protein that can bind to cancer cells to shuttle cancer-fighting drugs directly to cancer cells.

Q: What has been your proudest achievement so far?
My proudest achievement was my first publication. It was a great feeling to officially become a part of the science community.

Q: What's the best advice you've ever received?
When I was a PhD student, like many students, I had moments of self-doubt and felt like I would never succeed. What helped me overcome those feelings was advice from my mentor, who said: “It is not the strongest of people who succeed, nor is it the most intelligent. What sets successful people apart is their amazing persistence.” 

Q: You recently participated in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit where your research team answered questions from the public. What value do you see Reddit and other social media platforms bringing to health research?
Because developments in science affect many aspects of our lives, I believe it’s our duty as scientists to communicate new discoveries in language that’s comprehensible to everyone. Reddit is a great tool that lets us communicate directly to the public without any filters or mediators, avoiding the misleading information or marketing components that can sometimes be found in the media. Participating in the AMA made us feel that our work is appreciated. People were very curious and nice.

Q: What do you like to do when you're not working?
A: I like strolling around the public market on Granville Island, finding local ingredients to make a nice dinner for my loved ones. I also like painting (I’m a big fan of impressionism) and fishing.

Q: What do you see yourself doing in 20 years?
A: I have a passion for teaching and incorporating innovations in learning and education. I’m also interested in pursuing knowledge through hands-on research. I’m working towards a career that offers the best of both of these worlds: a focus on education as well as innovative research work. So, in 20 years I see myself as university professor mentoring and passing on knowledge to a new generation of scientists.

Q: What would you be doing if you weren't a researcher?
A: Oh wow! I have so many interests. I would be happy as a painter, a cook, an archaeologist…

Q: If you won a free vacation to anywhere on Earth, where would you go?
A: I would travel to Paris again and again, going from one exhibition to another, stopping for wine in between. I love the city and its atmosphere. NOTHING could stop me from going back to this wonderful place, not even terrorism – “Même pas peur”. I was so sad when the terrorist attacks happened, especially that both my beloved home cities (Beirut and Paris) were the targets. But I believe that one way to fight this ideology of death is to keep enjoying life and to live it with all our power.

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