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My connections

Irina Stefana

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

I left Romania to enjoy the mulled wine and Christmas markets of northern Germany while studying Cell Biology at Jacobs University Bremen. As an undergrad, I flirted with field ecology in the Norwegian tundra whilst assisting Dr. Lauri Oksannen. Having thus been reminded of the benefits of running water, I spent the following summer in the research group of Dr. Susan Jebb OBE, then at the MRC HNR (Cambridge, UK), getting a glimpse into the challenges of human nutrition studies. My interest in cell biology surfaced during the final year at university when I worked in the laboratory of Prof. Klaudia Brix, at Jacobs University Bremen, studying the consequences of cathepsin release into the extracellular space during intestinal trauma using a mouse model of post-operative ileus.

In summer 2009, I moved to London to join Alex Gould’s lab, then part of the MRC National Institute for Medical Research, which became part of the Francis Crick Institute in April 2015. There, I discovered the power and beauty of Drosophila as a model organism. As a PhD student in the Gould lab, I used fruit flies to establish a model of the lifelong consequences of undernutrition during development upon adult lipid metabolism and lifespan. I then characterised and used this model to dissect two of the mechanisms underlying the nutritional programming of lifespan in flies. Unwilling to leave the nest, I continued in the lab as a postdoc trying to find new ways to kill flies. 

In December 2015, I relocated to the beautiful city of Oxford to join the Goberdhan and Wilson labs as a CRUK-funded post-doctoral research scientist. At DPAG, I will combine the powerful genetics available in Drosophila with super-resolution microscopy to study the regulation of exosome biogenesis and secretion. These in vivo studies will take advantage of the unique characteristics – including large secretory vacuoles and production of large numbers of exosomes – of a subset of cells of the fly male accessory glands: the secondary cells, a cellular system established by previous work from the Wilson and Goberdhan labs (Corrigan et al., 2014). Drosophila work will also benefit from the close interaction with and be informed by other work in mammalian systems being carried in the Goberdhan and Harris labs.  

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