Nicole Brossier comes from nowhere or everywhere, depending on how you look at it. She lived in three different states before her third birthday and has continued hopping around the country ever since. Fast-forwarding some years, Nicole wound up in Missouri when she started looking at college applications and chose to pursue a chemical engineering undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri-Rolla. She blames this entirely on her father, who not only was an engineer himself, but also provided the following career advice – “Hey, you’re good at math and science, why not try engineering?” She finally decided there was something fishy about this rationale 3/4 of the way through her college career and switched gears after graduation, going to the University of Alabama-Birmingham for an MD, PhD in the field of Cell Biology. Although her brother and sister (both of whom ended up being convinced by Dad’s logic and were engineers themselves!) thought she was insane for volunteering for that much school, this was a much better fit for her, and she hasn’t looked back since.
Since the summers in St. Louis are at least shorter (if not cooler) than the summers in Alabama, Nicole decided to come back to Missouri after completing her MD, PhD. Now status-post Pediatric Residency and Pediatric Hematology-Oncology fellowship here at WashU, she has continued as an Instructor in Pediatric Neuro-Oncology.
Nicole’s interest in pediatric cancer began early – her younger brother was diagnosed with cancer when she was seven years old. Seeing medicine in action at that tender age was very motivating, and thankfully her brother survived and is now a happily married father of five. (One who still can’t quite believe she’s a real doctor after being in school “forever,” as he puts it.) She found her love for neurologic disease and the genetic disorder Neurofibromatosis Type 1 in medical school, and chose to work on NF1-related tumors for both her thesis and post-doctoral work. Now in her life as an attending, she’s been lucky enough to be able to focus her Neuro-Oncology clinic on NF1-glioma patients, who somehow manage to be a lot of fun despite their diagnoses. In her life as a scientist, she works to understand the factors that modulate pediatric glioma risk, both in kids with the NF1 tumor predisposition as well as those whose tumors arise sporadically. Her current projects focus on how neurodevelopmental, genetic and environmental risk factors influence neural stem cell populations to drive tumor formation.
In her life outside work, Nicole loves to sing, paint and cook, and she revels in her role as the “fun aunt.” She has now been forbidden to bring soap making kits, tie-dying kits, glitter glue (or any form of glitter, really) and non-washable paint into both of her siblings’ households. (She has thus far avoided noisy gifts, which is probably the only reason she hasn’t been disowned by her siblings or their long-suffering spouses!) She’s also somehow convinced her nieces and nephews that she’s an amazingly talented singer and artist, as evidenced most recently by her ability to draw something resembling a chicken.
Now that Nicole has moved to the MPRB, you too may have the dubious pleasure of listening to her sing various showtunes if you happen to be by late at night when she doesn’t think anyone else is around!