Have you met...Tânia Vinagre?

Tânia was 100% sure that she wanted to be a scientist. She holds a BSc in Biology and a PhD in Molecular Biology at IGC, Lisbon and in USC, LA. In the middle of her PhD, she realized that being on the bench was not what she wanted or liked the most. Planning experiments and learn more? Sure! but repeating the same experiments over and over again…certainly not. She wanted something closer to reality and with more impact. After the PhD, an entrepreneurship course at Stanford changed her career path, and since then she becomes part of the initial team of the Champalimaud Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal. Currently, she is the Director of Scientific & Technological Platforms at Champalimaud Foundation and recently finished her MBA.

Tânia at Champalimaud Foundation.

Tânia, you have been mentoring or employing many people in the last years, which skills should those people have?
It depends of the position, of course. But for sure critical thinking! I hate dogmas! Besides, organization, perseverance and self-motivation are extremely important to me because I like to delegate so I have to trust my team to be able to do the work. People should know how to work in teams and be approachable!

In your opinion, what is going to be the next breakthrough in science?
Regarding life sciences and health sciences, I think that will be immunotherapy. Actually, anything related to personalized therapies that’s the way to go. The populations are heterogeneous as well as the way each people respond to the therapies and we don’t have anything that takes that into account, and this should definitely change!

In a very bad day, when everything is crazy and you must deal with lots of issues, what is your getaway strategy?
Before I had my son, I used to ride. Now, I just don’t have the time with a full-time job, a son and the MBA classes!

So, if you enjoy so much to ride, did you want to be a vet when you were a kid?  
Actually no! [Laughs] I love animals, I don’t want to see them as my patients! But if it was now, considering my path, manager, entrepreneur, business development, ... basically, anything related to the skills that I’m developing now. And I hope someday I will have a personal business challenge.

Can you tell us a bit about Beepcare? Is it a start-up?
It’s a platform that allows patients to have access to their doctor. Concerning the business model, with this platform doctors can monetize their time in between appointments.  Some specialties require a lot of time from the doctor besides the appointment, as it is the case for pediatrics, and this is a way to monetize that time, as well.

How did you translate from an academic position, as a PhD student, to this business world? What did you do that helped on that transition?
The entrepreneurship course changed my mind, completely. Then, at Champalimaud Foundation, I grew very fast but mostly because I’m here since the beginning and I did many things happen and fast that was crucial for the rise of the foundation. Now, I think it’s different. We have more this idea that we must translate to other job opportunities after a PhD, but it is not easy! In general, people think that a Doctor has less transferable skills. But as a tip, I would say: do not limit yourself to a job description, create your own job!

Although we don't publish as often as we'd want to, at least you can enjoy your week by reading this interview with Tânia, an amazing and super inspiring person. For us, it was a great pleasure to meet her and learn through her experience. Hope you enjoy, as well 😊