People In Profile: Eric Pesarchuk

Eric Pesarchuk received his BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Guelph in 2009. His involvement in the co-op program exposed him to academic research for which he quickly developed a passion. Eric is now a PhD student in the Experimental Medicine program at UBC. Under the supervision of Dr. Vince Duronio, professor at Faculty of Medicine in UBC and VCH Research Institute researcher, Eric is investigating the protein MCL-1 and the mechanism of its newly discovered role in the DNA damage response. He is also the student representative for the Experimental Medicine graduate program.  But who is Eric outside of lab?

What is your area of interest? And what led you to this?
My research is focused on characterizing the function of a protein that was recently found to play a role in repairing damaged DNA. The end goal is to improve the efficacy of chemotherapy and radiation when treating cancer.

In the last semester of my undergraduate studies I did an in-depth literature review on a family of proteins and greatly enjoyed the process. I took that as a sign to find a PhD project in the same field. I put all of my eggs in UBC’s basket and haven’t looked back since.

What has been the proudest moment in your career?
To be honest, it hasn’t come yet. The completion of my PhD will give me a sense of pride but that is still approximately 2 years away. But some smaller achievements that have happened along the way are the publication of my first paper, completion of my comprehensive exam, and election as the student representative for my program.

Do you see yourself continuing the work and loving what you do in 20 years?
YES! I find research challenging and fulfilling, and am drawn to a career in the pursuit of knowledge. I am still undecided on whether to go in an industrial or academic path but will make up my mind during my Post-Doctoral Fellowship.

What would you do if you weren’t a researcher?
In high school I played trumpet and was actively involved in numerous ensembles ranging from orchestral to jazz. I always loved the creative outlet and comradery that music provides and would have gone that path if science had not been such an inspiration.

If you could invite any three people (living or dead) to dinner, who would they be and why?
Graham Hancock, Malcolm Gladwell, and Bill Maher. These three men have forward-thinking and unorthodox viewpoints on human civilization, psychology, and politics. They are each brilliant conversationalists who convey their ideas with humorous poignancy.

What’s your healthiest habit?
Being able to self-identify when I need to put work aside to recharge my body and mind. Sometimes this is introspective, but more often I turn to my friends and family who are a supportive and refreshing influence in my life.

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