Not your typical nine-to-five

Not your typical nine-to-five

Illuminate newsletter header, Spring 2021
September 2021

Dr Shabih Shakeel said WEHI’s spirit of collaboration attracted
him to establish his own laboratory at the institute.

Science isn’t a typical nine-to-five job.

Everyday brings new experiments and challenges. This is what inspired structural biologist Dr Shabih Shakeel to pursue a career in medical research.

“My earliest role model in science was my father. He was the first person in his family to graduate from university, obtaining a PhD in entomology,” he said.

“My father died when I was 13 years old, but I know he would be incredibly proud of what I have achieved and that I was able to follow in his footsteps and pursue a career in science.”

Building blocks of life

A summer internship in a research laboratory further instilled Dr Shakeel’s passion for science.

“I love conducting experiments, and the excitement of doing something new every day,” he said.

“I’m also a visual learner; if I can see something, I can understand it, and that’s what structural biology is all about.”

Dr Shakeel established his own laboratory at WEHI in structural biology to study the complex nature of DNA.

“Everything comes down to DNA because it carries all the instructions needed to direct the activity of every cell in the body,” he said.

After completing a double master’s degree, Dr Shakeel worked in Mumbai for a biopharmaceutical company, then undertook a PhD in Finland before moving to the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), Cambridge.

“At LMB it is very open, there are no internal walls, and you can approach anyone else in the institute to work with. It’s a very collaborative environment. WEHI has a similar philosophy, which was one of the things that really attracted me to work here,” he said.

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