10 January 2019

My name is Susan Veissi and I am Finnish. Currently, I am working as a PhD candidate at the department of Pediatric Nephrology, theme Renal disorders.

When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? Can you tell us something about your child years. 

Already as a child, I was intrigued by biology and helping people. I used to watch a TV show about doctors in Africa helping young children, which opened my eyes and made me want to become a doctor.

What was your previous academic training, where did you study and why that study? 

I used to study food technology at the University of Helsinki. As a minor, I had a course about genetics, which prompted my interest in scientific research. Subsequently, I came to the Netherlands to study Medical Biology. I finished my studies by the end of last year.

The RIMLS motto is: ‘Today’s molecules for tomorrow’s medicine’. What does this mean for you? 

Part of my project includes the identification of so-called circulating permeability factors, which are present in the circulation of patients with nephrotic syndrome and induce damage to the glomerular filtration barrier. By identification of these circulating permeability factors, we could understand the disease pathophysiology better and subsequently find novel therapeutical options for these patients instead of treating them with high doses of steroids, which is to date still the first line of treatment.

Who is your great example as scientists? And please give a motivation why.

Albert Einstein, who was this fearless scientist, who dared to perform experiments which were a bit crazy but led to great achievements. I love his quote “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”. This reminds me of the experiments that go wrong in the lab; it is important to try new things and it is ok that the experiments do not always succeed, but without trying you will never make progress.

Which research discovery that you have made has made you most proud? 

Since I started my PhD not long ago, my big research discovery has yet to be discovered. We strive to set up a novel co-culture system that more closely mimics the microenvironment of the glomerular filtration barrier, which would allow us to study the pathogenesis of nephrotic syndrome in a more physiological way than currently is being done. When we succeed with this I will be very proud.

Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform?

Numerous studies rely on in vitro cell culture studies. However, isolated cells from healthy donors or biopsy samples come with high donor variability and lack patient’s genetic makeup. Furthermore, biopsy samples from the clinics do not always reach the researchers in the lab. Therefore, given unlimited finances, I would like to set up a tissue biobank containing patient specific tissue samples  for research purposes solely.

What does your working area (desk, office) look like and what does it say about you (or your research)? 

I would say that my working area is an organized mess because I can usually find what I am looking for. Yet I am the only person who does. I think my desk very well reflects how I perform my experiments; perhaps a bit chaotic for others but quite well organized and planned for myself.

Nominate a colleague to be in the spotlight and what would you like to ask him or her?

I would like to nominate our new colleague Alessandro Gobino and would like to know whether he has now mastered writing an application for ethical approval in animal research? How are the statistical calculations working out?

You are nominated by Marloes Michels: She would like to ask Susan if she thinks she’s not going to miss the research on the complement system in the PhD project she has just started.

Although I did my internships in complement-mediated diseases, both of my previous projects did not really involve complement. Thus, I don’t think I will be missing something that I “never had” or worked on. Actually, my current PhD project does involve the complement system, so we can still work together Marloes. Don’t worry!

What type of person are you, quick insights:

a) Mac or PC?                                : MAC
b) Theater or cinema?                 : Cinema
c) Dine out or dine in?                 : Dine out
d) Ferrari or Fiat?                         : Fiat
e) Shopaholic or chocoholic?     : Shopaholic definitely
f) Culture or Nature                     : Nature

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