Early Stage Researcher

Martina Glavan
My project:
8 | Perivascular macrophages and endothelial cell interactions during stroke
Martina Glavan
Host Organisation:
UMR-S INSERM U1237, Institut national de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale, Université de Caen Normandie, France

What is your project/research about? What would you like to find out?

We are focused mostly on cell interaction during stroke. Why cell interaction? Brain vessels are covered with endothelial cells that form thight junctions. This structure forms a barrier that prevents basically everything except oxygen and nutrients to enter the brain. Even if some pathogen passes through, there are cells right next to the vessel (e.g. perivascular macrophages) that phagocytose the pathogen. However, during neuroinflammation these junctions are disturbed. Cells and different molecules from the blood stream infiltrate the brain – which leads to an even bigger inflammation inside the brain and eventually, progression of the disease.

We want to understand the interaction between endothelial cells and perivascular macrophages during stroke in order to better understand pathophysiology of this disease so we can treat it more effectively.

Why did you apply for a Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN and especially this project?

Even during my studies, I was quite aware of the fact this European based funding is one of the prestigious and most competitive ones in Europe. International environment, networking, collaboration, quality trainings, competitive salary and the opportunity to meet and to work with the experts in the field of neuroscience was a dream come true for me. On top of all, it was a great honor to be selected as a Marie Curie fellow.

What is so fascinating for you on research in general?

What fascinates me is the fact you can really make a change in the world by doing research. Being at the lab, I had the opportunity to see how certain research ideas led to the clinical trials and potential human application. Isn’t that an amazing thing? For example, 20 years ago researchers recognized tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) as a compound that can dissolve the blood clot and restore blood flow to the affected part of the brain. Today, stroke mortality rate declined for 39.4% since the first tPA application. This translated to the lives saved is a really significant number! There, this is what fascinates  and pushes me forward.  

What do you do in your free time? Do you have special interests/hobbies?

In my free time I like to spend quality time with my family and friends. I enjoy long walks and hiking. As I am from an island (Island of Pag, Croatia), it is not surprising I love spending time at the sea. Cooking and singing is also something that relaxes me. Getting older, I am quite focused on my personal development. I know it sounds as a cliché but I really try to be a better self in compared to yesterday. Therefore, I often spend time reviewing my actions - particularly towards the others, getting to know myself better, reading, and exploring the Bible. One of my recent discoveries is a clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, whom I enjoy to listen.

What are your plans for your future? Where/what you will be in 5 years?

In 5 years I see myself as a doctor of neuroscience, doing a post-doc at one of the world's reputable Universities. For this purpose, it would be of an extreme importantance to acquire one of the major Postdoc Fellowships, such as Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship.

Also, one of my aspirations is to get insight into the industry i.e. to realize a certain collaboration with the companies or to be a part of a forming startup company. As I was a part of an industry for roughly 2 years, I realised I love to combine the creativity that research offers with the practical application industry is directed towards. In 5 years, I see myself with at least B2 level of proficiency in French, which will be a real challenge (laugh).

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