My education started in Greece, where I obtained a Bachelor Diploma in Molecular Biology and Genetics (2010/2016). Throughout the four years of my undergraduate studies, I covered a variety of courses, such as genetics, cellular and molecular biology, microbiology, virology and neurobiology that taken together provided me with the essential skills for becoming a young researcher. Moreover, during my bachelor degree I developed some skills helpful for my future career such as: training in advanced laboratory skills and knowledge regarding Molecular Biology and Genetics; the ability to design experiments and to evaluate data; the ability to communicate my data both orally and in writing.
During my undergraduate studies I came in contact and subsequently immersed myself in the field of Assisted Reproduction at a 6-month internship during my undergraduate degree, in the IVF Laboratory of the General University Hospital of Alexandroupolis, Democritus University of Thrace (Director: Professor Georgios Galazios). Following my newly formed passion, I chose to undertake a research project as my Bachelor thesis, entitled: The effect of oxidative stress in the outcome of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), where I worked with ELISA and had clinical lab technician responsibilities. For the next three years (2013/2016) in the IVF Laboratory of the General University Hospital of Alexandroupolis I was working as an IVF lab assistant where my main responsibilities were semen analysis, sperm preparation for IVF/Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)/Intrauterine insemination (IUI), sperm and TESE freezing/thawing, oocyte retrievals, as well as embryo culture dish preparation and lab equipment maintenance. The minimal supervision I received in tandem with the delicacy of the required techniques offered a fertile platform to develop my confidence and dexterity.
My constant interaction with the Clinical Embryologists of the group, as well as my thesis project, nourished my passion to study Master’s Degree in Human Clinical Embryology and Assisted Conception at a postgraduate level at the University of Dundee (2016/2017) in order to further expand my knowledge and skills in the field. Throughout my postgraduate studies I studied fundamental science in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). Moreover, I improved my laboratory skills and I also fostered the development of novel skills, such as oocyte vitrification (using bovine oocytes) and training at the basics on ICSI (using bovine oocytes). As a MSc thesis I undertook a research project entitled: The effect of O-GlcNAc modification during the acrosome reaction under the supervision of Dr Marios Stavridis. For the purpose of this study, human semen was used. Human semen capacitated with or without O-GlcNAc and used for immunofluorescence in order to identify differences on the activation of acrosome reaction. By the end of the MSc I enriched my academic background and I developed the ability to work efficiently both independently and in a group.
The research project I performed during the postgraduate degree at the University of Dundee, helped me to understand my passion on performing research in an interesting research field such as oocyte biology. For that reason and in order to obtain more research experience I performed a MScR in Reproductive Science at the University of Edinburgh (2018/2019). This master where based in two research projects. During the first semester I performed a research project entitled: Is primordial follicle formation regulated by meiotic stages of oocyte? The main aim of this project was to understand if prophase I needs to be completed correctly to enable the formation of primordial follicles. To do that I used various techniques such as mouse dissection; tissue culture; mouse tissue microtoming; H&E staining; immunofluorescence; immunohistochemistry; RNA extraction; qRT-PCR and gained ethical understanding as well. The second research project entitled “The role of DHX37 in human fetal testis development” (Presented in the British Fertility Conference 2020) was performed during the second semester. The main aim of the project was to understand whether DHX37 repression cause any effect on the development of human fetal testis, either developmentally or functionally. For that reason, I used a lentiviral delivered miRNA which target human DHX37. The main techniques I performed during this project, was tissue culture; cell culture; lentiviral handling; human tissue microtoming; H&E staining; immunofluorescence; immunohistochemistry; RNA extraction; qRT-PCR. By the end of the MScR program, I developed major skills for a scientist such as: the ability of critical thinking and the ability of troubleshooting; to combine more efficiently my academic background with my experimental skills; develop novel strategies to address major biological questions; extensive literature research; contributing to paper writing.