Nazneen Rahman, a scientist at the Institute of Cancer Research – and a singer-songwriter with two albums – reflects on her two loves and motivating forces:
I’ve had an exciting and unusual few weeks. My group published a scientific paper revealing a new genetic cause of a childhood kidney cancer called Wilms’ tumour. This discovery has been of immediate benefit to families, providing an explanation for why their child got cancer, and information about cancer risks for other family members. During the same period, I also released my second album of original songs, called Answers No Questions. On one day, I found myself singing live on Radio London in the morning and talking genetics to the World Service in the evening.
Over the past few weeks, I have found it increasingly difficult to know quite how to answer the ubiquitous question – what do you do?
For most of my adult life, I have replied: “I’m a scientist and a doctor.” It is an accurate description. I am professor of human genetics at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, and head of cancer genetics at the Royal Marsden Hospital. But I am also a singer-songwriter. This is a smaller activity than my science, but far more than hobby. I release music that people pay good money to experience.