Brian SKINNER: You Have to Differentiate Yourself
Date: 2021-12-16
Source: WLA
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Q & A with WLA

Q: What is your early inspiration of doing science?
A: I have got a technical education high school diploma in chemistry. Because of that, I was trained in a chemical industry in which the research department was close to the laboratory where I worked. As I was fascinated by the research and innovation initiatives of the company, I visited the laboratory and asked people what they were doing every opportunity that I had. The talks to the researchers back there inspired me to pursue a career in science.      

Q: Do you have any scientific hero(es)? If so, how did he/she inspire you? 
A: My scientific hero is my former Ph.D. supervisor, Prof. Glaucius Oliva of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He impressed me principally as a function of the approach he takes to solve problems and deal with people, which is extremely serious and positive. He is an open-minded person that believes in people and gives opportunities for them to develop their carrier. He is a true leader that has been inspiring me since 2002.    

Q: What is the best advice that you have received?
A: The best advice that I received was from my former Ph.D. supervisor, Prof. Glaucius Oliva. At the celebration party, after I got a position as Assistant Professor of the University of Sao Paulo, Prof. Oliva told me: “Rafael, if you want to excel in your carrier you have to differentiate yourself from me. You have to develop new skills and find opportunities that will help you build your identity as a scientist”.    

Q: What is your greatest achievement so far?
A: My greatest achievements so far were the development of high-quality innovative assays to evaluate the antimalarial properties and biological modes of action of drug candidates for malaria. Because of that, I now lead a Medicine for Malaria Venture (MMV) center of excellence which screens all MMV portfolio compounds for activity against the strains of malaria currently circulating in Brazil.

Q: What is your research goal?
A: My goal is to discover a new drug for malaria, a disease that kills over 400 thousand people every year, most of them children under the age of 5 years. If we succeed, we will save thousands of lives. I believe that several of these children at risk will have the opportunity to make this world a better place.

Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: The best part of my job is the opportunity to learn new things, listen to different points of view, and exchange ideas that can increase the impact of my research.  

Q: Would you like to share with us some of your unforgettable experience?
A: I have two kids, an 8-year-old girl (Alice) and a 6-year-old boy (Theo). I feel a thrill of pride every time I see how happy they are when they learn something new. They taught me that the learning process is exciting and what matters is the approach you take. As a research and professor, I am challenging myself, trying new strategies to disseminate knowledge that can make a difference in people's lives.