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Daria and gabriela
Daria Svistunova and Gabriela Vilema Enriquez

Where did you study before DPAG?

Daria: I did my 5-year undergraduate degree at Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Bioengineering and Bioinformatics. After graduating I continued my studies in Oxford, first as an MSc Clinical Embryology student and then as a DPhil student in DPAG.

Gabriela: I completed a bachelor's degree in Biotechnology Engineering at the Armed Forces University-ESPE in Quito, Ecuador. After receiving my degree, I was awarded with an Ecuadorian government scholarship and I went to the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, France. There, I joined the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program.

What are you doing now?

Daria: I am a second year DPhil student under the supervision of Professor Peter Oliver and Professor Dame Kay Davies. My project focuses on a TLDc protein family and specifically on Oxr1, the most studied member of it. This proteins play a role in protection against oxidative stress, but the mechanisms of this are not understood. Deletion of Oxr1 leads to apoptosis of cerebellar granule cells and early death in mice, and mutations in TBC1D24, another TLDc protein, cause epilepsy, mental retardation and other neurological symptoms in humans.

Gabriela: I am currently a first year DPhil student also funded by the Ecuadorian government through The Secretariat for Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (SENESCYT). I work under the supervision of Prof. Richard Wade-Martins at the laboratory of Molecular Neurodegeneration and Gene Therapy. My work focuses on Friedreich’s ataxia (FRDA), which is the most common inherited recessive ataxia. Currently, there is no treatment for FRDA,  due in part to a limited understanding of the pathological mechanisms underlying it. Thus, the goal of my research project is to advance our knowledge in the molecular mechanisms behind this fatal disease.

What do you like about DPAG?

Daria: DPAG has a diverse range of research going on, which gives great opportunities not only to learn something new but also to find specialist in almost any area or technique. It gives students an amazing chance to broaden their knowledge and build a good contact network for the future.

Gabriela: DPAG has a great collaborative environment that helps students to exploit their scientific potential. Being surrounded by world leading experts in different areas, gives us the unique opportunity to work with them closely and learn from these awarded scientists how to develop a critical mind, to be good leaders and to do science at a high level. Seminars, conferences and the student doctoral training advisory group lead us to explore research outside of our fields and provide us with a more global view of science. One of the most important aspects for me is to feel free to express my opinion in scientific issues, as well as propose new experiments. I must say that I feel very confident in DPAG to do this. It is also worth mentioning that the international environment is very attractive and has been very friendly. I am gaining not only a great experience in science but importantly, I have new very good friends.