Current Title, Department, Employer:
PhD Candidate, Nuffield Department of Orthopedics, Rheumatology, and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS), University of Oxford

Brief Bio:
I was born in Belarus and have lived in Estonia for most of my life. For my udergraduate and masters of science degrees, I studied at the University of Glasgow. During that time, I worked in the lab of Dr. Julia Cordero at the CRUK Beatson Institute on understanding fly immunity and cachexia in cancer. I also spent one year working in the immunooncology department at AstraZeneca, and completed a placement with Prof. Matthew Dalby working on a biomaterials-focused cell differentiation project. These experiences spurred me to pursue a PhD, and Dr. Sarah Snelling came highly recommended as a great supervisor from a colleague. I reached out to Sarah and together we sculpted a project. From there, I applied and was accepted to the University of Oxford as a PhD student with the NDORMS departmental funding award.

Who have been your mentors?
To name a few, the most important mentors for my scientific career were Prof. Julia Cordero and a postdoctoral fellow in her lab, Dr. Jean-Philippe Parvy, who took me in for two summer internships and taught me a lot. Everyone in that lab was fantastic and offered great supervision and advice. It was a great experience that inspired me to pursue further research opportunities. At AstraZeneca, I worked closely with Dr. Larissa Carnevalli, Dr. Jon Travers, Dr. Anisha Solanki and many others who were instrumental to my scientific growth and career ambitions. Undoubtedly, the Snelling group provides invaluable mentorship, where not only my supervisors but also my colleagues generously invest time wit me, offering exceptional advice and unwavering support. I enjoy working here, and am very lucky to have had many great inspirations and mentors over the course of my previous university studies and now my PhD.

What are your specific research areas and expertise?
Before my PhD, I’ve completed several research projects within the field of immuno-oncology. However, in the final year of my MSc, I’ve really got into the field of engineering that was taught to us by professors within the Glasgow CeMi. After completing a biomaterials-focused project around pericyte differentiation into cartilage-like tissues, I was fascinated by the potential clinical applications and wanted to contribute specifically to the field of musculoskeletal research. As a PhD student, I’ve expanded my skillsets and expertise into human developmental and aged tendon transcriptomics and bioinformatics.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently writing my thesis which is centered on defining the transcriptional landscape of human embryonic, fetal, and adult tendons.

What has been the biggest challenge for you in your research?
I started as a student during COVID, so that was challenging for research productivity.

What project(s) are you looking forward to in the near future?
I’m hoping to publish a couple of computational packages that will enhance differential gene expression analyses for others in the field.

What do you want to do next in your career?
I would love to teach computational skills and get experience working in a biotech startup to gain better awareness of how a business is run and how to contribute at levels beyond research. After that, I’m open to paths in both academia and industry.

What advice would you give young investigators in the field?
Don’t be afraid to shape the project in the way you want your future career goals to fit.

When you’re not in the lab, what do you like to do for fun?
Outside of the lab, I really enjoy hiking and reading.

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