Stefan Piatek

An amazing last chat. Thanks everyone. Fingers crossed!

Favourite Thing: When you do something that nobody has done before and you get results that are completely opposite to what you expected. Unexpected results are much more interesting because you try to make sense of them!



The Petersfield School (99-04), Alton College (04-06), Imperial College (07-11)


Biology BSc, Biomedical Research MRes and a VTCT 2 in Massage

Work History:

WHSmiths, Lush, Massage Therapist, Labs in France and Imperial College.

Current Job:

PhD Student


I’m at Imperial College London but funded by MRC & Asthma UK Centre

Me and my work

I grow human lung cells and work out how their machinery might help to treat asthma.

Asthma is┬ásurprisingly common, and we have a lot of really good treatments for it too. Unfortunately we don’t have good treatment for about 1/10 patients, which ends up making their life really hard or even life┬áthreatening!

I’m looking at a part of the machinery of lung cells (this is my favourite protein), and how it turns on and off different genes. We think that its really important in what happens in asthma, and it should help us understand the disease.

I chose this project because it was a really interesting interaction between the lung cells and the immune system which is often overlooked in asthma.

My Typical Day

Sometimes relaxed, sometimes hectic, the only thing that is always a part of my day is coffee and tea.

I always start my day the same, but what I get up to and when I finish varies, I’ll pick what I did today to give you an idea of what it’s like.

  • Cycle in to work, have a delicious coffee and work out what I’m going to do for the day
  • Fed the lung cells that I grow
  • Detected what levels of immune system-activating secretions are given off my lung cells when I expose to them to an allergen
  • Tea and lab meeting at 12:00, half of it was spent with someone presenting what they had done in the last 6 months. The other half was spent eating cake for two people’s birthdays!
  • Quick check of emails and facebook.
  • Run a quick experiment using samples from earlier on in the week, I detected if the gene for my favourite protein is turned off or on if we stimulate the lung cells with an allergen.
  • Chance chill out! Delicious drink and analysed results to find out what’s been going on when I expose my cells to allergen.
  • Head to the pub with friends from work!

Some days are so busy, other days I’m just reading up on what other research as shown and chatting to people in the office to avoid the reading!

What I'd do with the money

I’d make a fantastic series about honey bees for primary school kids.

Bees are amazingly important for our food chain, and I’m also a beekeeper.

I’d love to make a series of 10 minute videos about why honey bees are so important. It would have lots of little facts along with beautiful videos of what bees do like their waggle dance, pollen collecting and the queen!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Caring, eclectic, and hairy.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Definitely can’t choose, but the last band I saw was Passion Pit, and they were delightful.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Scuba diving the great barrier reef, it was so beautiful!

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

More wishes!, being able to stop time, make the world solve problems like poverty and global warming

What did you want to be after you left school?

Honestly, I didn’t have a clue but knew I liked studying science.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Nothing horribly serious, had my fair share of detentions.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I got to live for a year in the south of France for a project which was lovely.

Tell us a joke.

What does DNA stand for? National Dyslexics Association (sorry for putting you through that!)

Other stuff

Work photos:

Here’s my desk in the office:


If I’m honest, I cleaned up a bit before taking the picture, it looks a lot nicer when my lab book and notes aren’t spread everywhere!