Tell us about your career so far
I completed my undergraduate studies in Mathematics at the Technical University of Munich. During this time, I had the opportunity to participate in the international Genetically Engineered Machine competition (iGEM), which is a synthetic biology competition hosted by MIT. Being part of an interdisciplinary team for this competition fueled my already growing interest in biology and set me on a path towards a career in this field.
I pursued my PhD at the Institute of Computational Biology at the Helmholtz Munich, where I focused on developing scalable training methods for dynamic models of biological systems. After completing my PhD, I joined the Laboratory of Systems Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. Here, I applied the methods I had developed to study how melanoma cells use rewiring and complex molecular interactions to become resistant to targeted therapy.
Where were you before joining the Crick?
Before joining the Crick, my Human Frontier Science Program fellowship allowed me to spend some time at Heidelberg University, where I began working on some of the ideas for my lab.
What attracted you to the Crick?
In my opinion, some of the most fascinating scientific discoveries happen at the intersection of different disciplines. It is through the integration of perspectives from various fields that we can gain a deeper understanding of complex phenomena. At the Crick, I find the department-less organizational structure and the diverse range of research being conducted to be an ideal environment for this type of interdisciplinary science.
What will your lab be working on?
Every cell has a different response to external stimuli, which facilitates their movement along different development trajectories, but also drives resistance to targeted therapies. Our research is focused on uncovering the fundamental principles that govern how molecular processes respond dynamically to stimuli, through a combination of mathematical modeling and machine learning.
Our research uses a two-pronged approach: a bottom-up approach that leverages knowledge of protein structure and biophysical laws to understand molecular interactions, and a top-down approach that infers fundamental principles from system-level measurements of cellular molecular makeup. Our ultimate goal is to use imaging data and other biological techniques to develop models that can predict how different cells will respond differently to unexpected disruptions
By developing such models, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms that give rise to cell-to-cell variability. Our research may contribute to the development of personalised medicine and precision therapeutics by guiding the development of more effective treatments that are tailored to individual patients.
How are you settling into life in London?
As a recent arrival in London, I have been grateful for the housing and visa support provided by the Crick, which has made the moving process much smoother. Since arriving, I have quickly fallen in love with our new home in Hampstead. I am excited to explore the vibrant cultural scene that London has to offer, including the numerous museums and restaurants in the area. I have already started to compile an ever-growing list of places to visit and look forward to discovering all that this city has to offer.
Who are you looking forward to working with at the Crick?
There are so many people at the Crick whom I am eager to meet, talk to, and potentially collaborate with. It would be impossible to do justice to all of them by listing just a few names. Additionally, I am currently in the process of hiring, so I am especially excited to work with the talented young scientists who will be joining my team in the near future.
What job would you be doing in an alternate universe?
I would probably run an artisanal bakery that transforms into a cozy cocktail bar in the evenings.