Leah Fitzsimmons is an Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Birmingham. Her aim is to better understand how a common and usually harmless virus called Epstein-Barr virus (or EBV for short), contributes to cancer. Her particular focus is trying to work out how EBV can help cancer cells to cheat death. The overall aim of her work is to design methods to block the interactions between EBV and cellular survival machinery in order to kill cancer cells. Leah is passionate about science communication and public engagement and believes that science should be for everyone and regularly gives talks to researchers and the public about the importance of science and evidence in public life. She volunteers regularly for Cancer Research UK and works with the charity Sense About Science as an Ask For Evidence ambassador, and is also a member of several learned societies, including the Microbiology Society whom she represented at Voice of the Future at the Houses of Parliament in 2015.
"Every day, we hear claims about what is good for our health, bad for the environment, how to improve education, cut crime, and treat disease. Some are based on reliable evidence and scientific rigour. Many are not. These claims can’t be regulated; every time one is debunked another pops up – like a game of whack-a-mole. So how can we make companies, politicians, commentators and official bodies accountable for the claims they make? If they want us to vote for them, believe them, or buy their products, then we should ask them for evidence, as consumers, patients, voters and citizens."