Tamara Matysiak-Budnik is a Professor of Gastroenterology and Digestive Oncology at The Institute of Digestive Diseases (IMAD) in Nantes University Hospital, France. Affiliated to the INSERM Research Unit, her research is focused on gastric cancer and immune-oncology, specifically gastric precancerous lesions and gastric carcinogenesis.
What do you like most in your current professional role?
Diversity of my professional activities, including clinical, research and teaching activities,
Which were your best career decisions?
To follow the opportunities which appeared during my career. First in 1993, to leave my mother country, Poland, to do research in Helsinki, Finland. Then in 1995, to move from Finland to Paris, France, to continue my research. Finally, in 2006, to accept the challenge of converting from Gastroenterology into Digestive Oncology and to move from Paris to Nantes to develop the Digestive Oncology Unit at the University Hospital in Nantes (may be this was the most important one).
Finally, entering the The European Association for Gastroenterology, Endoscopy and Nutrition (EAGEN) was a major step to enter the European Instances, and especially UEG.
Which obstacles and difficulties did you face and how did you overcome them?
There were a lot of them! Moving from Eastern to Western European country was not easy at that time (the beginning of the 90ies), everything was difficult .Before my every step, I was told: “it is impossible, you will never be able to do it!”. None of my Polish diplomas were recognized in France, and I was obliged to do everything again: to pass an exam to validate my medical thesis and my specialization in Gastroenterology, to do a second Ph.D. thesis (it was so difficult to validate my Polish Ph.D. thesis that it was easier to do the second one in France), then to obtain habilitation, and finally to be appointed to a Professor position.
How I overcame all these difficulties? Whatever I was doing, I never had any guarantee of success. But I was determined, and most importantly I was always convinced, that even if I will not be able to achieve the desired aim; I will progress in both my research and my clinical abilities.
So, I would say that my determination and my confidence that I was progressing were my major driving forces.
Another important point in my career was that I was constantly obliged to adapt to the changing research and clinical environment (Poland, Helsinki, Paris, Nantes), adapting the subjects of my research to the evolution of my carrier and also to the arising opportunities. So, I would say, that the capacity of adaptation was an important point in my career.
Based on your personal experience, what is your tip for young women starting their career? How would you advise an advanced female colleague who is contemplating her next step?
I believe that to start the academic career you need to be highly motivated, enthusiastic and to be sure that this is really what you want to do. Then, you have to convince your family (your partner) to accept your choice and to support you. Indeed, this is what you will need the most, the support and comprehension of your family, since the academia requires a lot of sacrifice, especially in terms of time that will be taken from your private life, but it is worth it!
In the further steps, you should follow your convictions and your affinities (in terms of research subjects) but also remain open to any unexpected, and sometimes very valuable opportunities.
How do you find (continual) enjoyment in what you are doing?
My enjoyment comes first from the diversity of my activities, (clinical, research, teaching), my implication in different international instances (like UEG) which is very stimulating and gives a feeling of belonging to a driving force of our discipline, and the constant contact with the young generation, which is always very stimulating.
What are the most important virtues that made you the strong woman you are today?
I feel rather embarrassed answering that question, but if I am to answer it, I would rather cite what the persons close to me say, that I am extremely hard working and determined, and I would also add enthusiastic. Indeed, I believe that the enthusiasm is crucial to succeed in anything we do!