07 June 2022

Zoom-In on Champalimaud - 2nd Edition - Issue 5

Have you ever wondered what a surgeon’s secret talent might be, or what karaoke song a neuroscientist would choose?

Our Zoom-In series shows you a side of the Champalimaud Foundation’s community you have never seen before…

Zoom-In on Champalimaud - 2nd Edition - Justyna Kociolek

Zoom-In on Champalimaud: Justyna Kociolek


I am originally from Poland, where I attended the Medical Military University in Lodz and afterwards became a Radiation Oncologist. I have been in Lisbon since 2019 when I did an amazing 6-month Fellowship at the Champalimaud Foundation’s Breast Unit and since that time I’ve been with the Champalimaud Clinical Centre. Now, I have the privilege to work in the Radiotherapy Department. Life can surprise you - I came here to upgrade my knowledge and skills as a physician and recently I became a teacher in our Radiotherapy School, where doctors from all over the world come to learn about advanced techniques in Stereotactic Radiation Therapy.

What do most people not know about you?

That I am a famous sailor ;) I’ve already had one interview on TV and recently I have been interviewed for a professional sailing newspaper: apparently the Portuguese are fascinated by why a Polish girl competes in a local regatta. To make it funnier, I started sailing because of the Champalimaud Foundation. One day I received a group email with information about the upcoming Champalimaud Foundation Regatta Trophy and they were giving staff members the opportunity to participate. I did not think twice and wrote back that I was willing. This is how I found myself on a boat belonging to the president of the Associação Naval de Lisboa. I was adopted to the Carioca boat as a crew-member and shortly after that I did a sailing course at "Treino de Mar" School in Doca de Alcântara. Today I have a Portuguese licence and I am an independent skipper.

What is your ultimate vacation destination?

My dream is to buy my own boat and of course take a trip around the world on board. Easier said than done, so this dream has to wait. So far I am gathering experience. I have managed to sail along the coast of Portugal, Greek islands, Caribbean islands but the greatest achievement was sailing from Lisbon to Madeira: an experience that allows you to feel the power of the ocean. When you cannot see the land for a few days, and you see that you are just a tiny dot on the map and you rely only on yourself, it’s an unforgettable adventure.

What’s your favourite thing about Lisbon that most people don’t know about?

My favourite way of seeing Lisbon is the view from the river to the city; it completely changes the perspective, and you see other details. I also like to look at the building of the Champalimaud Foundation from the boat: it looks very majestic. But the thing that some people do not know is that there is a restaurant in Belem marina where, on the first floor, far from the rest of the customers admiring the Tagus river, there are tables overlooking the hangar with boats where local sailors come to eat and have a different menu - most often with a discount for skippers :P

Zoom-In on Champalimaud - 2nd Edition - Justyna Kociolek
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