BHF CRE Graduate Student
Project: Developing a functional vascularised cardiac organoid system for target discovery of proangiogenic therapeutics
Supervisors: Dr Filipa Simoes and Professor Angela Russell
I completed my bachelor's degree in Biotechnology (BSc) at the Technical University of Berlin. During my studies I worked as a student assistant, in a 3D Bioprinting startup, Cellbricks GmbH, where I was working with Dr. Anna Klara Amler on establishing a 3D bioprinted jawbone model. For my bachelor’s project I was investigating the differentiation of primary human osteoclasts in 2D culture and 3D-bioprinted constructs for the implementation of osteoclasts in the 3D bioprinted jaw model. Consecutively, I graduated from my master’s programme in Medical Biotechnology at the Technical University of Berlin. During my master's degree, I did an internship in the Hebrok group at the Diabetes Center of the University of California in San Francisco. The group focuses on the mechanisms underlying the organogenesis of the mammalian pancreas and pancreatic diseases.
For my master’s thesis project, I joined the group of Dr Filipa Simões as a visiting graduate.
With the Simões group, we are investigating the role of macrophages in the regeneration of cardiac tissue after myocardial infarction. Macrophages are among the first immune cells to reach the heart after injury, and they contribute to both scar formation as a repair mechanism and tissue regeneration. We utilise the zebrafish as a model organism since it has the capability to regenerate its heart upon cardiac injury. To understand how the zebrafish heart repairs itself after injury, it is important to identify the regions of the zebrafish genome that are crucial for the regenerative capacities of the heart cells.
My master’s project was on characterising heterogeneous cardiac macrophage subpopulations and their interaction with the cardiac niche in the regenerating zebrafish heart, by utilising state of the art technologies such as single cell RNA seq, single cell ATAC seq and spatial transcriptomics.
During my time in Oxford, I had the valuable opportunity to gain insights into the field of computational biology. This knowledge not only proved to be instrumental in the analysis of data for my research thesis but also sparked my genuine interest in computational biology.
I applied to the DPhil course in Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics to continue working with Filipa and I was fortunate to get accepted and receive a studentship from the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and the British Heart Foundation Centre for Research Excellence to fully fund my studies, an opportunity which allows me to pursue my DPhil research. My research focuses on developing a functional vascularised cardiac organoid system for target discovery of proangiogenic therapeutics. I aim to characterise and assess the functionality of the vasculature in both steady state and cryoinjured cardiac organoids (modelling MI) to elucidate the role macrophages play in angiogenesis, and to establish a perfusable cardiac organoid (CO) system for drug screenings of proangiogenic therapeutics.
Undergraduate degree: Biotechnology (BSc), followed by a master’s programme in Medical Biotechnology, both at the Technical University of Berlin
Studentship dates: 2023-2026