Dr Myriam Chimen
Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences
Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow
'I undertook a master’s degree in Biochemistry at the University of Toulouse, France and then I was awarded my PhD in Immunology in 2012 from The University of Birmingham. During my successful PhD, I discovered a completely novel pathway that was later published in Nature Medicine.
I then continued my post-doctoral training on a short-term contract supported by the University internal funds that allowed me to then move on onto my next five-year Postdoctoral position at the University. I had my first child in 2013 in the second year of my post-doctoral position after which I took eight months maternity leave. I then had my second child in 2015 and returned to work full time after seven months maternity leave.
During my two maternity leaves, I was able to take advantage of full pay “Keep In Touch” days, which allowed me to keep up to date with my research and publish journal articles. I felt highly supported during that time which allowed me to plan my next career development steps. Upon my return from my second maternity leave, I was awarded the EPRSC Developing leaders grant by the University of Birmingham which specifically supports early career researchers returning from maternity leave. This grant allowed me to set aside time to develop my own research whilst being employed on someone else’s grant. It allowed me to start establishing myself as an independent researcher despite the reduced hours spent to develop my CV as a result of my maternity leaves. As a result of this, I was then awarded a Dorothy Hodgkin fellowship from the Royal Society. In the months leading to this application, I was fully supported by the Institute and my mentors to write the application as well as preparation for the interview.
“The flexible work culture in the College has allowed me to maintain full-time employment and therefore my scientific competitiveness. I have benefited from regular career advice and mentoring from senior members of staff within my institute and in the College and also from Athena Swan events organised by PERCAT.”
I also received excellent support from the Institute and College in terms of employment continuity. The College extended my contract by a few months in order to support my fellowship application. The University also awarded me with the Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund, accelerating fellowship (£90,000) to cover my salary and research expenses for 16 months in order for me to apply for other fellowships should the Royal Society one have failed.
As an employee at the University have taken advantage of flexible working hours in order to support my family. This includes working from home when children are ill or work flexibly when my partner has inflexible commitments at work.
I am keen to support and inspire the younger generations and I am registered as a STEM ambassador and regularly attend public events such as the BIG Bang fair. Such events are designed to introduce the younger generations to careers in science.'
In the video below, Dr Myriam Chimen talks about why Athena SWAN is important and what she hopes for the future.