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It’s one of the most critical issues that medicine has yet to crack: how to stop cancers from spreading. As cancers develop, they can metastasize and overwhelm internal organs, ultimately leading to death. What causes them to do that, and to become resistant to drugs that try to slow their growth, are two questions that Madeleine Oudin has set out to answer. Oudin joined Tufts as an assistant professor in January, the first cancer biologist hired in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She grew up in France, studied biochemistry at McGill University in Montreal, and went on to earn a master’s in pharmacology and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from King’s College London. She recently finished a postdoc at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT.
Tufts Now recently sat down with her to learn more about her research on cancer, why the School of Engineering is a great fit, and her hopes for attracting young women to careers in research.
Tufts Now: What attracted you to Tufts?
Madeleine Oudin: When it came time to start my own lab, I really wanted to be close to engineers and at a university that values the interdisciplinary aspects of science, and I found that at Tufts. I wanted to continue to explore using engineering tools to answer biological questions. That two-way communication makes research go much further; it enables new types of discoveries.
Your postdoctoral research includes looking at what micro-environmental factors in cells and tissues lead a cancerous tumor to spread or metastasize. How did you get to this line of inquiry?
I was on my way toward a Ph.D. in neuroscience when I heard a presentation on cancer cell migration—how cancer cells spread and ultimately take over the function of vital organs. I thought that was a great way to apply my knowledge …