Ever since childhood, Milena has been interested in broadly understood science, naming Maria Skłodowska-Curie as her idol. – I’ve always been fascinated by how science, through logical explanations of various phenomena, is able to ‘tame’ the world, and that the ‘correct’ answers are not necessarily those you’d expect based on common sense – she reminisces. Milena is studying at the University of Cambridge, where she is achieving outstanding academic results. She passed her second-year exams with the best aggregate score among all ‘biology-oriented’ students of Natural Sciences, with the best result in pharmacology and third best in neurobiology in her year group. She has already been offered an early conditional placement (depending on her final exam score) in the doctoral program. If all goes according to plan, her supervisor will be Prof. Graham Ladds from the Department of Pharmacology, and her PhD work will be funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and executed in cooperation with AstraZeneca.
She has already chosen pharmacology as her major. At present, she is working in the laboratory headed by Dr Matthew Harper, where she is contributing to the study of drugs that could inhibit the formation of blood clots. – My experiences during my school years, such as participation in the ADAMED SmartUP program, convinced me that I want to have a professional career in science. My curriculum is flexible, which is why I had an opportunity to explore a variety of subjects. Consequently, in the first or second year of my course in Natural Sciences I realized that I preferred applied pharmacology – with its many links to medicine – to the slightly more abstract biochemistry, which I had originally planned to choose as my main area of study – she explains.
She is the most interested in the development of new therapies for conditions that continue to elude treatment, especially neurodegenerative diseases, which cannot even be effectively slowed down in their progression. – I also enjoy reading about new therapeutic strategies such as gene therapies based on CRISPR/Cas9 technology, organ growing for transplantation under laboratory conditions using stem cells, personalized anti-cancer mRNA vaccines or new generation therapeutics – she says.
After completing her doctoral studies, she plans to do a post-doctoral fellowship and eventually undertake research at a university or research institute. However, she does not rule out the option of working as a researcher in the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industry.