Maj Schneider Thomsen, PostDoc02. April 2018
What motivated you to become a scientist?
On my 3rd semester studying Medicine with Industrial Specialization, we made a project about Parkinson’s disease. For the project, we used organotypic brain slice cultures containing substantia nigra. Considering we were a group of 3rd-semester students who had never worked in the laboratory before, it was a rather ambitious project. However, we actually managed to make some pretty good stainings of the dopaminergic neurons. I was so fascinated by the neuronal network and the brain in general that I knew from that point onwards that I wanted to be scientist and if possible, a neuroscientist.
How did you end up doing what you do today?
I hold a Master’s degree in Medicine with Industrial Specialization from Aalborg University with specialization in Biomedicine. I did my Master’s project at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand under supervision of Professor Warren Tate. It was an exciting year where I learned many new methods and Professor Warren Tate was a great mentor. During my stay, I studied the interaction of neurotoxic and neuroprotective proteins related to Alzheimer’s disease. After my return to Denmark, it was time to apply for a job, and with the opening of a Ph.D. position at Torben Moos’ lab within the field of Neuroscience, my plan was clear. I got the position and after finishing my Ph.D. “The vascular integrity of the brain in chronic neurodegeneration”, I got a Postdoc position connected to the RIBBDD consortium, which allowed me to continue exploring the peculiar blood-brain barrier. In October, I got a position as assistant professor, which happily created the opportunity for me to keep on working within the blood-brain barrier research field and the RIBBDD consortium.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I am working with an experimental model of neurodegeneration studying the influence of chronic neurodegeneration on the integrity of the blood-brain barrier.
What do you think the most exciting thing about being a scientist is?
I enjoy the diversity of my workdays and the fact that my work and findings might someday help patients suffering from neurological diseases. Additionally, being a scientist gives me the opportunity to travel to new places around the world participating in conferences with some of the leading scientists within the field.
What do you do when you are not working?
In my spare time, I am a passionate (amateur) elite mountain biker. Being outside in nature gives me energy and competing among the best in Denmark stimulates my competitive mind. And then, of course, I enjoy spending time with my boyfriend, family, and friends.
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