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Speaker profile: Jennie Lill

Jennie Lill

As a child, science, especially biomedical sciences, fascinated me. After watching Jurassic Park I decided that a career in Molecular Biology was the way to go and so I pursued a degree at Warwick University in the UK. After my degree (having not yet cloned a dinosaur but certainly learned a lot about cellular and molecular biology…) I pursued a Masters in Biotechnology at Nottingham Trent University where I discovered two of my continued scientific passions; mass spectrometry and tumour immunology.

Why Mass Spectrometry?

My work with the tumour immunology team at Nottingham led by Professor Bob Rees sparked my interest in mass spectrometry. I loved the pure analytical nature of the technique and was intrigued by what questions this sophisticated instrumentation could answer. I continued my graduate studies through a PhD program with Professor Rees, Professor Bonner and Professor Colin Creaser where I studied T cell epitopes for viral and cancer vaccine approaches. Here I utilized mass spectrometry to identify the MHC class I and class II presented peptides from various disease etiologies. This work fascinated me! The highlight was finding disease (Chronic Myeloid Leukemia) derived peptides presented by HLA-A3 derived from a translocation event of BCR-ABL from patient material. This was my first “big” publication and from that time onwards I knew I wanted to work in the biotechnological arena.

After completing my Ph.D I wanted to remain in the field of mass spectrometry and moved across the pond to Boston, MA where I worked for a small biotechnology company called Zycos, again characterizing T cell epitopes by mass spectrometry. A little while later I moved to La Jolla, CA to work for ActivX Biosciences, now changing gears to work on at that time a new technology called Activity Based Profiling. After a few years in sunny San Diego, I decided to pursue a career at Genentech as it presented the opportunity to join a world-leading research environment and work on even more diverse technologies and projects.

My current role

After 12 years, and now as the Director of the Proteomics and Biological Resources department, I am involved in many projects encompassing a variety of disciplines and cutting-edge drug discovery research topics. In addition to these collaborations, I also have the opportunity to initiate novel biochemical and mass spectrometric technology development projects and I still work on projects related to Tumour Immunology.

What I enjoy most about my current position is the opportunity to work on various projects across multiple biological disciplines, from early stage basic research where we are trying to elucidate new cellular signaling mechanisms, to more translatable science where we are characterizing biotherapeutic drug moieties and working with clinical materials. Genentech is a wonderfully scientific diverse environment that is staffed with cutting edge technology and discovery scientists who all share a common passion; making medicines that can better patient’s lives.

A typical day at the office

A typical day for me is meeting with my team, helping guide their research, working with collaborators on how to fuel our basic research and drug pipeline and attending seminars and other events to educate ourselves on the ever evolving world of biomedical research.

If I learnt anything from being a scientist it is that it’s OK (in fact necessary) to navigate the unknown, sail through uncharted scientific territory, that it’s exciting to try new things and take risks. Science is a never-ending adventure with many new discoveries just around the corner, with the potential to benefit the health and longevity of human kind.

Jennie Lill, speaker at Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics

Jennie Lill
is the Director of Proteomics and Biological Resources at Genentech. She is speaking at our Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Congress on harnessing the immune system to treat cancer using proteomic analysis of T cell epitopes.

To read more about Jennie’s presentation, view the conference agenda

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