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Dr Nikita Sushentsev is a Research Fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and currently a Visiting Fellow at Exeter College.

Having lived on a Moscow street named after Pyotr Kapitza for more than twenty years, little did I know that one day I would follow in the great man’s footsteps and end up in Cambridge.

Before this, however, came six wonderful years at Sechenov Medical School, which was the alma mater of Anton Chekhov who once examined Leo Tolstoy on the ward where we had our final exams. Theatre and literature aside, my undergraduate research focused on early detection of acute kidney injury in newborns, a formative experience that cemented my interest in academic medicine. Later in my studies, I took part in setting up a UK-Russia medical exchange programme, which was generously supported by the British Embassy in Moscow; this scheme saw more than a hundred early career researchers and junior doctors travelling between the two countries to share skills, knowledge, and cultural experiences. Fortunately, I became one of the exchange students myself and came to Cambridge for two consecutive summer research placements at the Department of Radiology, which then naturally transformed into a PhD studentship supported by the Gates Scholarship.

During my PhD, I explored avenues for clinical translation of a novel MRI technique that probes prostate cancer metabolism, the most commonly diagnosed malignancy in England. One of the key diagnostic challenges of prostate cancer is its unique heterogeneity. In simple terms, nearly half of newly diagnosed patients harbour intermediate-risk disease, for which there is little consensus on ideal clinical management. Either treated or monitored, approximately a third of these patients develop tumour recurrence, suggesting the presence of a more aggressive disease that is undetected with standard diagnostic tools. During my PhD, our team has shown that metabolic MRI may be one potential solution to this problem, as it can non-invasively identify the presence of aggressive tumour cells in otherwise unremarkable intermediate-disease lesions. In addition to imaging tumour metabolism clinically, we were also able to correlate MRI data with the underlying tissue properties, uncovering new clinically relevant insights into prostate cancer biology. I greatly look forward to building on this work during my Research Fellowship at Emmanuel, which will hopefully see the translation of some of these fundamental insights into clinical practice.

Beyond research, I enjoy music (mostly classical and jazz), biography, theatre, and conversation; the latter is mostly realised through the Thomas Young Club, which meets several times a term in the Ante-Room to the Gallery to discuss all things science in the company of students and Fellows of Emmanuel, as well as invited speakers.