We talk to Dr Richard Buus, Senior Scientific Officer at the Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Research Centre at The Institute of Cancer Research, London.

Thursday 13 September 2018      Guest blog Research blog
Richard Buus, Senior Scientific Officer at the Institute of Cancer Research, in a cave

What has been your career path so far?

I studied at the University of Szeged, in Hungary, for a degree in Biology. After that I moved to Liverpool for a PhD, where I was researching how cancer cells migrate. My first job was at Queen Mary, University of London, where as a postdoctoral researcher I studied pancreatic cancer. During that time I also studied towards a Masters degree in Bioinformatics at Birkbeck, University of London in the evenings.

After completing my Masters project in 2012, I joined the Endocrinology Team at the Breast Cancer Now Research Centre led by Professor Mitch Dowsett and Dr Lesley-Ann Martin. I started there as a Higher Scientific Officer and after a few years of fruitful work, I was promoted to a senior level.

What is your role?

As a Senior Scientific Officer, I do various tasks in the lab. They include planning studies, acquiring data from experiments, analysing results on my computer to understand what the experiments show us, and I also report on the findings.

Could you give a brief description of your current project?

My work focuses on improving the ways to estimate how likely breast cancer is to return in patients who had their primary breast tumour removed. We can already use different tests to understand how likely the breast cancer is to come back after several years, but making them as accurate as possible could ensure that women can avoid unnecessary treatments. It could also mean that necessary treatments are offered to all women who need them to prevent breast cancer coming back.

Could you give us some insight into the impact of this project?

Our analysis and findings on prognostic tests are already used all around the world. Here in the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), who gives guidance, advice, and information for healthcare professionals, uses our research results to make recommendations on which breast cancer prognostic tests should be available on the NHS. These tests can estimate how likely someone is to see their breast cancer come back and help make decisions about the most suitable treatments.

What does your typical day involve?

I wake up around 7-7:30 am. After breakfast and reading all the news available, I cycle to work. It takes me around 30 minutes to get to Fulham Road, and I start work at around 9:30 am. Some days I work in the lab analysing tumour samples and measuring which genes are turned on and off in cancer cells. Most days though, I analyse data gathered from different experiments, write study reports, or coordinate with colleagues to make sure all our research projects are progressing well. I leave work at around 6-6:30 pm and depending on the day I might meet friends, go to the pictures, attend a language course, play Ultimate Frisbee, or just stay in.

What has been your most memorable work moment?

My most memorable work moment was attending and presenting my work at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2015 in Philadelphia. It’s a big scientific meeting bringing together thousands of cancer researchers from across the world.

What’s the worst part of your job?

Some of what we do can get repetitive and tedious.

What’s the best part?

The best part of my job is that I have this opportunity to work on complex biological problems together with some of the best scientists in the field.

If you weren’t a researcher what would your dream job be?

City planner or an engineer in a big city with complex issues.