Marcin Mielczarek

What is your current position, and what do you do?
I am a postdoctoral research fellow in the research group of Prof. Roberto Quesada in the Department of Chemistry in the Faculty of Science at the University of Burgos (Spain) in order to investigate the design, synthesis and biological properties of novel small molecules for the treatment of cystic fibrosis (mucoviscidosis), a rare genetic disease that is mortal at the current stage of medical sciences development. The main goal of the collaborative research undertaken by our consortium is to find a molecule that might not only prolong patients’ lives, but also improve life quality.
I am also a Sigma Aldrich advisory board member, and as organic chemist I participate in the development and commercialization of their new products.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far
In 2010 I obtained a M.Sc. in pharmacy (including industrial specialty) at the Wroclaw Medical University (Poland), and I was employed as an oncology pharmacist in the Laboratory of Cytostatic Drugs in the Hospital Pharmacy in the Public Hospital in Jelenia Góra, my hometown. I moved as a UNSW Tuition Fee Scholarship (TFS) recipient to UNSW Australia (Sydney) and received a Ph.D. in chemistry under the supervision of Prof. David StC. Black and Prof. Naresh Kumar in September 2015. As a Ph.D. student I worked on the design, synthesis and biological evaluation of novel inhibitors of bacterial transcription initiation complex formation as innovative antibacterial drug candidates as well as on the discovery of a new method for the synthesis of indole-based macrocycles. During my Ph.D. candidature I was also employed as a casual research assistant and laboratory demonstrator in undergraduate laboratory classes in the School of Chemistry at UNSW Australia.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?
There has been a plenty of such challenges, but all of them have been overcome successfully. The first one was securing a UNSW Tuition Fee Scholarship in 2011. It was a hard time full of uncertainty.

Also, it was not easy to complete Ph.D. thesis writing sharing a six-bedroom apartment with five undergraduate students in UNSW Village. That time I promised myself that I would not share anymore any apartment with random people.
Finally, looking for a job after getting a Ph.D. was a very tough, exhausting, time-consuming, disappointing and frustrating experience.

What achievement are you most proud of?
The first project molecule synthesized by me in 2016 was selected as one of a few lead compounds in our project due to its exceptionally high anion transport activity compared to its overall cytotoxicity. Currently our collaborators from pharmaceutical industry are developing a suitable drug form for this molecule. Moreover, a patent application for this compound has been submitted.
I also developed a new method for the delivery of two structural isomers of a small molecule building block of high interest in medicinal chemistry. This innovative method is scalable, reproducible and might have potential industrial application.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?
In my opinion patience, creativity, paying attention to details, diligence, persistence, ability to think independently and in an abstract way, honesty, modesty, imagination, planning skills, good organization of work, excellent time management, high motivation and determination levels, accuracy, expressing ideas in a clear and approachable way in oral and written reports are essential and highly desired in research work.

What are your interests outside of work?
Travelling is definitely my greatest passion and, to some extent, a kind of addiction as well.
Alpine skiing, mountain biking, swimming and hiking are my favourite sports and I practise them regularly. Driving, especially during holidays spent in the Canary Islands, relaxes me a lot.
I aim high not only in research done in laboratory, but also hiking in the real mountains. The highest peak that I have reached so far is Pico del Teide (3.718 m) on Tenerife. Now I am thinking about Demavand (5.610 m) in Iran, hiking in the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan and perhaps even in Karakorum in Pakistan.
Learning foreign languages is one of my passions, too.
And I enjoy cooking as it requires lots of creativity as well as banking as it relies on strategic thinking, planning and risk analysis.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?
No matter if you are a bachelor, Master´s or Ph.D. student, try to be as independent in your studies, especially during laboratory classes, and in further research work in laboratory as possible. Listen carefully to the people who have greater experience in the field than you. Always aim high, no matter what is your goal, but be realistic and humble. Plan well in advance and evaluate potential risks you might encounter on your way. Be consistent and diligent in your work.

Is there anything you would like to share?
Do not postpone too many things for ‘later’ or closer unspecified future as life is very short. Enjoy it now since after years you will regret much more the things that you have not done than the things that you have done. And remember that some chances are offered only once.

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