Interview: Mikel Recuero Linares, Researcher and PhD student at the University of the Basque Country

Scientific research depends on the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and information between researchers with different expertise and experience.

The EUCANCan communications team caught up with Mikel Recuero Linares, a PhD student and Researcher at the Chair in Law and the Human Genome R.G. at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), to get his perspective on challenges and opportunities associated with being an early-career researcher in an international project such as EUCANCan.  

Combining a position as a researcher at UPV/EHU with work towards a PhD

Mikel holds a Bachelor of Laws and Master’s degree in Legal Practice from UPV/EHU as well as a Master of Laws in Telecommunications, Data Protection, Audiovisual and Information Society Law from the Carlos III University of Madrid.

After completing his second Master’s degree, Mikel worked as a Legal Counselor at different law firms, focusing on issues related to data protection and intellectual property. He combined this work with a part-time Research Assistant role, working with Prof Pilar Nicolas of UPV/EHU. When a full-time position at the university opened in 2020, he was quick to jump at the opportunity.

Today, Mikel is one year into his PhD and a member of the EUCANCan consortium, working with Work Package 6 ‘Ethico-legal framework for clinical oncology data’, co-led by the McGill University and Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. In this role, Mikel focuses on issues related to GDPR and legal implications of health data sharing. He is also involved in EUCANCan’s sister project, EuCanImage, which aims to build a federated imaging platform for next-generation artificial intelligence in oncology.

Experience of working in the private sector helps Mikel root his research in real-world issues

Mikel has a strong interest in technology and knew early on that he wanted to combine this passion with a career in law. That doing so would lead him to work in research at the intersection of technology and medical law was, however, nothing he initially planned for.

“That I began working in this field of law and with research was a pure coincidence. During my first year as a researcher at UPV/EHU I authored a research paper that was awarded by the Spanish Data Protection Authority. Their recognition helped me discover my passion for research,” says Mikel.

He appreciates how working in research allows him to work multidisciplinary and constantly pushes him to explore and learn new things. Yet, he underlines that he values his previous experience of working in the private sector and believes that it helps ground his research work in more practical, real-world issues.

In discussing his goals and dreams for the future, Mikel acknowledges the competitive nature of academia.

“I would love to continue working in research and I have the tenacity to peruse this goal. At the same time, I always try to keep an open mind and remain open to exciting opportunities both inside and outside academia,” says Mikel, adding with a smile that, combining work on his PhD with his engagement in several research projects currently keeps him too busy to worry much about what he will do after he has completed his PhD.

The EUCAN ELSI Collaboratory: A platform for knowledge exchange

EUCANCan and EuCanImage are both part of the ELSI Collaboratory, a platform for knowledge exchange between ethical legal researchers working in related Horizon 2020-funded projects.

“As an early-career researcher, it is a privilege and a great opportunity to be able to discuss shared issues with ethico-legal colleagues from across the world – we often face many of the same challenges and are better positioned to solve them together” says Mikel.