An imaginative and innovative treatment for brain haemorrhage

Did you know that strokes claim 6.2 million lives each year? DiscovHER interviewed Sara Martinez de Lizarrondo, who has a PhD in cellular and molecular biology, and is trying to find a solution to the disease. Her work aims to use micro-particles as haemostatic patches to stop bleeding in patients suffering from a brain haemorrhage. We were impressed with the imaginativeness and innovation of this approach!

Do you have a dream?

As a research scientist in the biomedical field, it’s important to realise that over 95% of what you do will have no practical application whatsoever in the improvement of human health. For this reason, the vast majority of researchers are working on therapeutic strategies that are doomed to failure and destined to sink into oblivion... I hope that this percentage will be reduced. It’s my wish that our research should be an integral part of therapeutic development and, why not, be used directly to treat patients.

What attracted you to science?

I was attracted to science for the most obvious reason really… mainly because I was better at science than humanities. But I think that in fact my aptitude for scientific subjects had a lot to do with my passion for science. When I was little, I loved Sherlock Holmes! I loved how, based on his observation of facts, he arrived at a theory that linked them together and which, ultimately, led him to the truth or solution. For me, that’s what research is all about. And that’s what steered me towards science. Something else that had an important effect on me (and most probably on many others) was one of my old biology teachers at school advising me to study biochemistry at University. I think the smallest things can have the greatest impact. A word of advice or encouragement can influence an entire career.

Have you encountered any particular problems as a woman in your career? Or have you seen any signs in your area that it’s difficult for women to be scientists?

In my immediate environment and in my field, I haven’t encountered situations where I or other women experienced any particular problems due to their gender. However, in biology, it’s blatantly obvious that the majority of research centre and institute heads are men (none of the eight CEOs of INSERM have been women!). So I think that, more than just accessing scientific disciplines, it’s accessing the top jobs in science that's difficult for women.

Is there one aspect of your work that you particularly like?

Above all I like the independence of academic research. I’m fortunate to work as part of a team that allows me the freedom to develop my own research subjects. Also, it’s all-encompassing: you write projects, you carry out experiments, you clean up the bench, you work in a team, write papers and present your results at conferences. The work is very varied and you never get bored. 

Sara Martinez de Lizarrondo received a L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship in 2014.

For Women in Science

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