7 Mar 23

International Women’s Day: Celebrating pioneering women


A Q&A with Dr Kiren Baines from Extracellular and Dr Ulrike Obst from Rosa Biotech

At Science Creates, we have a growing number of outstanding female scientists, engineers and investors in our ecosystem who are helping to build disruptive businesses that strive to improve healthcare, the environment and quality of life.

On International Women’s Day, we are celebrating the groundbreaking work of women in STEM by shining a light on two of our members, Dr Kiren Baines PhD, CSO and Co-Founder at Extracellular, and Dr Ulrike Obst, Senior Scientist and Clinical Lead at Rosa Biotech

Dr Kiren Baines, CSO and Co-Founder at Extracellular

Where did your journey begin?
My passion for conserving our natural habitat and biodiversity led me to look at how I could learn more about our environment at university. I was drawn to cell biology and genetics modules – I loved the intricate and complex detail of how cells function. This led to a PhD in dynamic cell biology in Bristol, specifically within autophagy. It was here that I understood I needed to work in a more translational setting, specifically within the area of cell and gene therapies. I then found myself following the lifecycle of a therapeutic, from discovery phase to manufacturing but became disillusioned by the small number of people who would benefit from many therapies – simply due to being able to afford them. I wanted to have a bigger, more equal and fair impact on improving human health. The cultivated meat and seafood industry allowed me to do this.

What are your proudest achievements?
I have always had ambitions to run my own business and becoming a Co-Founder has allowed me to achieve this goal. Reflecting on my career overall, establishing the analytical department in my previous role was a massive achievement and came with its own unique challenges. That was also my first time managing people, there’s a lot of pride that follows when someone you line manage goes on to do great things. Publishing my first peer reviewed scientific paper and being invited to speak at world leading conferences, have also been stand-out moments.

Which women have you and do you draw inspiration from?
This is going to sound a little bit cliché but there are two extremely strong women in my life – my mum and sister. Both have shown me the power of overcoming adversity and thriving in environments that are not the most hospitable to women from an ethnic minority.

This year’s IWD theme is #EmbraceEquity. What does equity mean to you?
Equity to me is the ability to recognise we are all different but to see differences as a positive, which ultimately gives people the freedom to be their authentic selves. I personally have found myself in situations where I have found my differences have held me back. We should be building an ecosystem that allows people to express themselves without the fear of being judged or discriminated against.

How can STEM sectors better recognise women’s contributions?
The first step for me is to support an open and honest conversation about what needs to be improved, and how we achieve these improvements. We need to provide platforms for women to be heard regardless of whether their voice is the loudest or not. Seeing women in leadership roles and thriving is something we don’t see enough of. I have found that women aren’t great at talking about their achievements – for me personally, I quite often stop myself speaking about my successes because I’m not 100% happy with them or they aren’t 100% perfect. We need to empower women to speak about their achievements and contributions confidently, and overcome the inner voice that’s telling them that they aren’t worthy enough.

Dr Ulrike Obst, Senior Scientist and Clinical Lead at Rosa Biotech

Where and how did your journey begin?
My science career started in Germany, where I studied Biotechnology in Berlin. However, ever since my childhood, I’ve been fascinated by nature and was fortunate that my parents supported me in analysing everything under a child’s microscope on the kitchen table.

What are your proudest achievements?
My proudest achievement is having worked hard to secure opportunities to carry out research in leading labs in Asia, Europe and the US. Finding funding to support this travel was often challenging but it was well worth it given the opportunities that they have opened for me in my career.

Which women have you and do you draw inspiration from?
As the Nobel prize winner who discovered radium and polonium, and majorly contributed to finding treatments for cancer, Maria Skłodowska-Curie is truly inspirational for her scientific accomplishments and life in general. I am also inspired by the talented, hard-working and kind women in my personal network who somehow manage their careers and personal lives with often so much going on.

This year’s IWD theme is #EmbraceEquity. What does equity mean to you?
To me, equity is about everyone having an equal footing and access to opportunities. In reality, this can become complex, but for me, these are the fundamental ingredients.

How can STEM sectors better recognise women’s contributions?
I believe it starts with education early on to eliminate gender stereotypes and provide equal access to science, technology and innovation. Once women are empowered with their education and knowledge, an inclusive, supportive and equitable environment is critical to keep women in the STEM workplace. Personal characteristics or life circumstances of women are often different to their male colleagues, and for true innovations with real-world impact, everyone’s diverse perspective needs to be heard.


Extracellular and Rosa Biotech are just two of the dynamic start-ups in the Science Creates ecosystem who are solving global problems with groundbreaking advancements in healthcare, the environment and quality of life. Find out more about our community here.

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