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Julija Rabcuka

BA(Oxon), MSc


DPhil Student in Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics

Single-Cell Oxygen Saturation Imaging and Microfluidics for Functional Assessment of Red Cell Physiology

I studied Biological Sciences at the University of Oxford, specialising in Cellular,  Molecular, and Developmental Biology, and Immunology. My core research focus was on deranged DNA repair pathways involving DNA polymerases and molecular underpinnings of inflamma-biology of the vasculature. I then completed my Masters' in next-generation advanced therapeutic medicines (Gene, Stem Cell, & Pharmacological based therapies (GDS)) and their commercialisation pathways jointly between the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London and the Sir Dunn School of Pathology, Oxford. My research focused on the functional characterisation of novel tankyrase (PARP5a/PARP5b) binding substrates in the context of reversible protein adenosine diphosphate ribosylation (ADPr) as well as the modulation of interactions by the E3 ubiquitin ligase RNF-146 in Ivan Ahel's Lab.

I joined the Swietach Lab in 2021 to explore biophysical properties of gas handling in red blood cells as well as hemorheology in the context of transplant biology. My scientific interest is two-fold; my primary research focuses on developing a robust imaging technique for quantifying the rate of gas exchange in red cells with single-cell resolution directly reflective of population-wide physiological function. In collaboration with an industrial partner, we have been able to utilise single-cell oxygen saturation imaging to assess oxygen-handling kinetics throughout the blood storage lesion formation resulting from static storage regimes. I am also utilising this method to assess the functional quality of red blood cells during extended-duration Normothermic ex-vivo organ perfusion (NPK1 clinical trials) aimed at extending organ preservation times and enhancing perfusion parameters. In line with the above, I am aiming to develop a methods of blood preservation and rejuvenation which positively reflects in red cell kinetic profiles and physiological parameters.

My secondary stream of research involves the use of carbonic anhydrase as a marker of a haemolytic crisis and the development of detection methods for routine diagnostic use and point-or-care testing.