A magical mixture of serendipity and initiative combined with my Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics led me to the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience at Rockefeller University where I studied the molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease. Opening doors to the vast mysteries of the human brain, my stay at Paul Greengard's lab left me thirsty for more interdisciplinary science. That is how I paved my way to Karolinska Institutet for my PhD to study the dynamics of injury and regeneration in the central nervous system. The main project I am involved in Molecular and Cellular Exercise Physiology Laboratory (MCEP) focuses on a potential molecular player that can be utilized for motor function improvement in neuromuscular diseases.
These days, when I am not tuned into the communication between muscles and motor neurons, I advocate for Doctoral Student Welfare and Health at the board of the Doctoral Student Association in Medicinska Föreningen.
With the same aim in mind, I also contribute to the KI Career Blog as a researcher, frequently answer questions from prospective graduate students and undergraduate students about studying abroad, life in Sweden, and applications for internships and graduate school.
In my second year as a PhD student, I coordinated a symposium organized by PhD students and postdocs aimed at creating an interactive platform for Biomedicum researchers. First of its kind, Biomedicum Young Researchers Symposium received a lot of attention, with speakers from each of the five departments, posters by students and postdocs as well as various biotech company exhibitors. The symposium now continues as a recurring event to facilitate collaboration between Biomedicum scientists and it is organised by a student initiative called KICC.
In an attempt to take an active role in science communication, I acted as editor-in-chief to our student magazine Medicor in 2017.
The diseases that lead to permanent or progressive motor impairments have devastating effects on the patients. Many neuromuscular disorders, including ALS, advance quickly and result in paralysis and often death within a few years of diagnosis. Gradual loss of voluntary muscle movement leaves patients with permanent motor dysfunctions.
These motor impairments are the result of the pathological interaction between skeletal muscle and motor neurons (MNs). Formation and function of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) require bidirectional signaling between the nerve and muscle.
The beneficial effects of physical exercise on the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative and mood diseases are well known. However, molecular players of these effects remain elusive. There is evidence that muscle-derived factors called myokines can regulate MN survival not only in development but also in pathological conditions.
I am interested in studying myokines that can facilitate motor neuron survival, neuromuscular junction formation and maintenance. At the end of my doctoral studies, I aim to reveal fundamental molecular mechanisms and key players with potential implications in the etiology, diagnosis and therapy of diseases with motor impairments such as ALS, aging, muscular dystrophies, or traumatic spinal cord injury.
The more information we gather about the motor neuron-muscle communication the closer we will be to devise new and efficient treatments for diseases with motor impairments.
- Cell Biology Discussion Group Leader, 1st year medical students (2014)
- Cell Structure Lab, Biomedicine undergraduate programs, 2nd term. (2015, 2016)
- Course leader of Cell Differentiation Lab, Biomedicine undergraduate programs 2nd term (2017)
Academic honours, awards and prizes
Dean's List, IzTech 2011
Graduated with a 1st rank in Science Faculty and Molecular Biology and Genetics Department, 2011
AMGEN Scholar, 2010, Ludwig Maximillians Universitat, Gene Center and Helmholtz Zentrum München