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Caroline Manto-Chagas

Pharmacy graduate student feels 'powerful' as a woman in science

By Heidi Wicks

Caroline Manto Chagas’ greatest inspiration is her mother.

As a student in the School of Pharmacy, her research focuses on eliminating undesirable side effects in anti-cancer treatments and medications. She remembers the undying support her mother has provided in encouraging her to become the first member of their family to complete a post-secondary education.

“My mother has been working non-stop since she was 14 years old,” said Ms. Manto Chagas. “She worked hard to give me the best support I could have asked for, and she is the strongest person I know. She has showed me that anything is possible in this life when you believe in yourself, when you are honest with yourself and others, and when you make mindful decisions.”

Technology was one of the attractions to drug research for Ms. Manto Chagas.

Caroline Manto Chagas says women scientists have every reason to believe in themselves.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“The type of research I do requires powerful computers, useful software, and of course, a deep science knowledge to carry out the experiments. The computer-based techniques I use is the first step of drug discovery development, among many other exciting research topics.

“It is the new era of designing compounds based on existing drug targets and ligands,” she continued. “That is, we learn how these molecules behave in the body without the need to chemically synthesize them, and we work on them to improve their mechanism of action. That makes the research more feasible and faster, thus avoiding wasting, saving time and money! Isn’t that amazing?”

Ms. Manto Chagas was a student in Dr. Laleh Alisaraie’s computational chemical and biology drug design laboratory.

“We will keep fighting to become equally respected and valued, regardless of our profession.” — Caroline Manto-Chagas

Although hard work and dedication has more to do with Ms. Manto Chagas’ success than luck, she still feels lucky to be a woman in science.

“I think we have conquered a decent space in society and I feel glad to be alive during this century, but women still have a lot to fight for to be 100 per cent recognized as powerful human beings. Fighting to become equally respected and valued regardless of their professional area. We will keep fighting to become equally respected and valued, regardless of our profession. We will keep going and will never give up!”

In the future, Ms. Manto Chagas hopes to engage in drug discovery and development within pharmaceutical industries, where she can advance her research skills to study new treatments for diseases and provide a better quality of life for people.

“The pharmaceutical science field is huge, dynamic, amazing. There is so much to be explored. Study hard, find opportunities, meet people, have in mind that you are capable of always going further and you will see so many nice rewards.”

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