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Dr Suleiman Al-Sabah
researcher in molecular pharmacology at the University of Reading


Johnny Ball, David Bellamy and Spider-Man’s alter-ego Peter Parker – he wore a lab coat and messed around with test tubes in the comics – all had some (positive?) effect upon me, but probably weren’t responsible for my current career. Ron Hicks, my secondary school physics teacher and karate instructor, inspired me, but not to take up science as a career.

I became a scientist by accident. I started a medical degree, but ended up studying pharmacology, and found both medicine and pharmacology to be lacklustre. It was only when I ended up in Dr Dan Donnelly’s research laboratory that I discovered the enthusiasm to carry out research. And that’s the bug – doing something new, seeing something that nobody else has seen before, that ‘eureka’ moment when the picture comes into focus.

Carrying out scientific research requires hard work and discipline. Most of the time, science is a problem-solving exercise. Why isn’t this cutting-edge technology (be wary of this phrase) working? Why do my results differ from the published data? Questions like these mean that you can’t be complacent.

Sometimes the hard work doesn’t pay off, and it’s back to square one. But when the hard work pays off, then the answer is itself the reward. That’s the inspiration.