Eva Hede Olsen, Research assistant03. January 2019
What motivated you to become a scientist?
For as long as I remember, I have been very curios and eager to understand the world around me. I am highly motivated by an urge to find the answer to unresolved questions and I think both my family and friends would agree that I tend to become completely absorbed in subjects I find interesting. In high school, I discovered a strong passion for human biology and biochemistry. Therefore, I decided to study medicine with industrial specialization (MEDIS) at Aalborg University. Here, I discovered a passion for working in the lab and being able to test my ideas through experimental studies during project work. On both my 4th and 6th semester projects, I worked with in vitro blood-brain barrier models based on primary rat cells in Torben Moos’s lab at Aalborg University. During these projects, I became increasingly interested in the brain and the numerous questions still unanswered, including the challenge of drug delivery to the brain. However, at the end of my bachelor, I discovered an increasing interest in health economics and the dilemmas involved in the optimal use of resources in the health care system. This led me to initially choosing a specialization in medical market access and health economics on the MEDIS master. I did my first year at Aalborg University followed by a 6 months intern at a medical company in North Zealand, but I slowly realized that I truly missed digging deep into scientific areas and testing hypotheses in the lab. So after my internship, I decided to start over with a specialization in biomedicine on the MEDIS master and from then on I was absolutely certain that I had to work with biomedical science.
How did you end up doing what you do today?
I hold a master’s degree in MEDIS with specialization in biomedicine from Aalborg University. During my first year of the master, I discovered a special interest in targeting and molecular biology, especially though my 8th semester project, which I did in the cancer biology laboratory at Aalborg University. During that project, I worked with the development of exosomes targeted against cripto-1, a potential cancer stem cell marker, and I was truly fascinated by the idea of designing specifically targeted therapies. When I then heard about Annette’s work on gene therapy on the blood-brain barrier, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to combine my interests in molecular biology and brain drug delivery. I therefore decided to do my master’s thesis in this group, focusing on viral gene therapy on the blood-brain barrier. At the end of my master’s thesis, I was fortunate to be offered a one-year research assistant position to proceed my work on viral gene therapy, which I started in February 2018.
What are you working on at the moment?
Since I finished my master’s degree, I have been working with gene therapy at the blood-brain barrier as a strategy to induce delivery of proteins to the brain. Right now, I am working with a blood-brain barrier targeted AAV vector to study the protein secretion in transduced brain endothelial cells. To test this strategy, I am also working with an in vitro model of an inherited genetic lysosomal storage disease called Nieman Picks disease type C2, based on human skin fibroblasts from Nieman Picks disease type C2 patients.
What do you think the most exciting thing about being a scientist is?
I really love how my work allows me to test hypotheses through experiments in the lab. I also really enjoy the variation between digging deeply into scientific investigations on a theoretical level and working with a more practical approach in the lab. It is very motivating that my research might help improve the treatment of patients with neurological diseases in the future.
What do you do when you are not working?
I moved into a small house together with my boyfriend this summer, so recently I have spent most of my spare time doing small renovations and decorating the house to turn it into our home. Apart from that, I like spending my time off turning old clothes and textiles into new clothes by sewing, which I learned from my grandmother who was a professional tailor. In general, I find it really satisfying to create something myself. Finally, of course, I enjoy just relaxing and spending time with my boyfriend, family, and friends.
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