From Drawing Flowers To Studying Cancer

Cherrie D. Sherman: Molecular Biologist

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Having artistic parents, I was given artistic genes. I was blessed with the ability to draw and I drew a lot when I was young. I loved drawing anything. When I was in 4th or 5th grade, my science teacher told me to draw a flower and label the parts. From there, I learned all the functions of each part – the pistil, the stamen and so on.

The knowledge I learned blew me away and  that was my first unforgettable experience in STEM. 

I grew up in the Philippines and to get into very good universities, you have to take an entrance exam. I passed the college entrance exam at one of the best universities there for Chemistry. My mother wanted me to become a teacher and being an obedient daughter, I followed her choice and I majored in Natural Sciences. During my time there, I was introduced to a genetics course, which I fell in love with. At 21, I passed the teacher’s board exam as soon as I graduated. I taught high school General Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics courses but I felt that something was lacking and I left.

When I had the chance to move to London, UK, I jumped into the opportunity of following my dream. At age 32, I ventured into doing a degree in molecular biology, then a master’s degree and a PhD. Hey, any time is great to follow your passion right?!

I thought to myself, I don’t live in the world alone, therefore, I have a responsibility to give back to or help other people – which validates my choice of career – being a scientist.  

As my research interests evolved, I wanted to specialize in cancer biology but the road kept taking me to a different path. Patience is a virtue as they say. This year, I started working on colorectal cancer research and am hoping to understand the impact of genetic factors and environment, in cellular homeostasis and colorectal cancer development.  I remain hopeful that my career will progress in academia but you’ll never know until you need to take on a new path.

Life changes and you just have to learn to adapt to a new environment. Being resilient is a good virtue. For now, I love research and want to help people by understanding human diseases and finding a cure.

I think that’s the greatest feeling ever to get involved in something altruistic.