Michaela Bowden joined Bristol-Myers Squibb in early 2018 as director of translational biology. Michaela and her growing team work in the Cambridge, Mass., labs trying to understand the biological reasons that some people do not respond, or stop responding, to immuno-oncology (I-O) therapies.
As part of the site’s Translational Medicine organization, Michaela and her team work closely with the I-O Discovery team, with the goal of ultimately turning what they learn about cancer biology into the development of assets that may potentially help patients overcome I-O treatment resistance.
"We want to understand resistance better and provide tangible data that show the context for why, scientifically, a treatment approach that may make sense hypothetically may not work in patients,” says Bowden. “We’re going to study resistance in a much more in-depth way. We have all this clinical data we’ve generated, and now we are in a setting where we have access to a unique volume of patients that we’re interested in interrogating. We want to ask very broad questions about potential resistance mechanisms and do a deep characterization of these patients."
Interests and Expertise
An accomplished senior scientist, Michaela has experience building multidisciplinary research teams at Boston-area organizations such as Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, as well as a startup life sciences company in her native Ireland.
Michaela didn’t always know that she wanted to become a scientist. Though she had a strong affinity for both math and science, it wasn’t until she was in her final year of university in Ireland that she realized her future was in research after participating in a three-month research program in one of the labs on campus.
"I had always associated science with theoretical book learning – all the things that you had to learn but not have experience in. Then, I think the application of these learnings to the experimental setting is what really clicked for me."
Always looking to discover something new, when Michaela isn’t answering questions about cancer, she loves to travel the world. While her favorite recent trip was to Japan, she looks forward to planning a trip circling the entire globe – certainly no easy feat, but as in her work, one she embraces.