Meet Celina Shirazipour, PhD! She joined Cedars-Sinai as an acting assistant professor last year and spends her days working in the Research Center for Health Equity.
We sat down with Celina to learn more about her work and find out how she hopes to make an impact on people around the world.
I am looking at what impact sports have on the recovery of injured and ill servicemembers and veterans.
What is your role at Cedars-Sinai?
Celina Shirazipour: I’m a research scientist within Cedars-Sinai Cancer. I do my own research and I collaborate with other researchers and faculty on their work.
What are you studying?
CS: My main work centers around individuals with disabilities and promoting their physical activity. I have a grant with the Invictus Games Foundation funded by the Forces in Mind trust.
The Invictus Games is an international sports competition for service members and veterans with physical injuries and mental illnesses or injuries.
I evaluate the games and the programming offered by each participating country. I am looking at what impact sports have on the recovery of injured and ill servicemembers and veterans.
Now I am transferring those skills to focus on cancer prevention and survivorship. I look at how we can promote physical activity and health behaviors that will help prevent cancer or improve quality of life in cancer survivors, particularly in underserved communities.
How did you get involved with the Invictus Games?
CS: I was doing my PhD and I had heard about veterans coming back injured from Iraq and Afghanistan. There were some really cool programs being developed for them with things like climbing Everest or trekking the South Pole.
As a behavioral health researcher, I think about how we can get people active. And I thought, “What’s motivating these men and women who have lost limbs to take on these challenges?”
The 2016 Games were coming to Toronto, where I was doing postdoctoral research, and I submitted a proposal and they liked the idea.
What inspired you to pursue a career in science?
CS: I like asking questions.
In science, we get to ask these really massive questions and then figure out how to answer them.
That’s a really exciting process.
Being a behavioral scientist, I get to answer the questions and then take it a step further and see if it actually worked in a community.
Medicine and science are diversifying and there’s a place for everybody.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
CS: I think it’s important to practice what I preach, so I like to be active. I like to try new workout trends and I’m obsessed with SoulCycle. It’s the only thing I’ve found that lets me turn my brain off.
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What’s your advice for girls thinking about pursuing a career in research?
CS: Find role models. That’s really important.
Don’t be scared to reach out to people online who inspire you. Medicine and science are diversifying and there’s a place for everybody.
Also, take advantage of opportunities to be exposed to science. I volunteer with an organization called Skype a Scientist that lets me video chat with classrooms all over the country. It’s a great resource for students to get exposure to different kinds of science, including behavioral sciences.