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Dr Mariann Bienz

My research

I have been interested in signalling molecules mediating communication between cells in animal development and disease. My focus is on Wnt signalling, an ancient cell communication pathway that controls embryonic development and adult stem cells in all animals and, if incorrectly activated, can cause cancer. With my group, I have investigated the molecular basis of this pathway and the interactions of its components that relay the Wnt signal from the cell membrane into the nucleus to specify switches in gene expression. Ultimately, our work may reveal new therapeutic targets for treating cancer.

My journey

Setting up your own lab and making your own mark on the international scene of science is challenging and, luckily, I managed to do both before my first child was born. This meant that I could take time off to enjoy my babies (while keeping my group going) without feeling that I ought to be in the lab day and night. Minimising traveling and other non-essential activities and, generally, saying no to invitations and requests was imperative. I found it was as important as having complete independence at all levels before children, which allowed me to immerse myself in my research whenever and wherever I chose to do it!

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