DC to open new Lab

Dr Tatyana Doktorova to open Douglas Connect's new lab

Named for the double Nobel Prize winner, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) awards research fellowships to “the best, most promising individual researchers from anywhere in the world”. One of the experienced scientists selected for a MSCA fellowship is Dr. Tatyana Doktorova, Douglas Connect's Senior Toxicologist responsible for the company's new Safety Assessment lab. Tatyana is a European Registered Toxicologist with a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences and two postdocs in the field of in vitro Chemical Genomics.

But the MSCA is not only about increasing scientific knowledge. “The Marie Curie fellowship is meant to help scientists become leaders in European industry,” Tatyana explains. To this end, individual research fellows are required to relocate to a new European country and work in the private sector.

Industry leaders of the future

Tatyana obtained her Master’s degree in Pharmacy from the Medical University of Sofia, Bulgaria and her PhD at Vrije Universiteit Brussels, Belgium. Her doctoral project was part of the 6th Framework project carcinoGENOMICS and was situated in the field of toxicogenomics-based in vitro assays and in vitro alternatives to carcinogenicity testing. After her PhD, Tatyana worked as a postdoctoral researcher on a number of projects related to alternative methodologies for hazard assessment. From 2014, she received a three-year fellowship from the Scientific Institute of Public Health-Belgium and Vrije Universiteit Brussel to develop a novel gene-based assay for in vitro genotoxicity screening.

When Tatyana decided to apply for the MSCA, she focused on Switzerland, looking at the many research companies based there. “I wanted to find a dynamic, young company where I could have lots of new hands-on experience,” she explains. Eventually, conversations with Dr. Thomas Exner, Senior Scientist at Douglas Connect, convinced her that the Basel-based company would be a good match. “I liked Douglas Connect’s agile approach,” she says.

“Tatyana was recommended to us by a research partner and friend,” Thomas Exner says. “When talking to her and preparing the MSCA application, I was immediately impressed by her knowledge, working style and determination to reach goals. Therefore, we decided to offer her a job at Douglas Connect independent of the results of the application but it was great news, even if not a surprise, when she got the fellowship.”  

In charge of a brand-new lab

Named Douglas Connect’s Senior Toxicologist in March 2017, Tatyana was soon at the heart of Douglas Connect’s community development efforts (e.g., OpenTox), its support of collaborative research projects (EUToxRisk, OpenRiskNet), and its development of innovative solutions in safety assessment for industry pursued within ToxHQ. She has also taken on responsibility for creating the company’s new Safety Assessment Laboratory.

Setting up a brand new lab is a rare opportunity and Tatyana found herself learning the details of the equipment supply business, while continuing her other work. “I succeeded in a tough PhD, so paying attention to detail is one of my strengths,” she says.

The new lab will be operational in early Spring 2018. “We want to provide in vitro assays to make our in silico predictions stronger,” Tatyana explains. “We will be able to demonstrate good data-management practices in the lab, showing how raw data can be preformatted, analysed, stored, connected. Once we start running the lab, we can offer training in how data-management should be done. When you know every step of where samples are, where data is coming from, with nice management and storage, you get the maximum results, with fewer mistakes.”

“Tatyana is helping us advance our goals to bring integrated testing solutions to industry. Douglas Connect works with partners to create innovative and practical solutions in safety testing, bringing in vitro and in silico evidence together in a trusted integrated framework. Tatyana’s a great addition to the team,” says Dr. Barry Hardy, CEO, Douglas Connect.

In addition to her work at Douglas Connect, Tatyana also takes courses in leadership, business, management, bioinformatics and is adding German to her other languages (Bulgarian, Dutch, English). “Working at Douglas Connect is challenging but fits in with my main goals: to learn new things and to integrate into this new country,” Tatyana says. “Science is moving so fast that you must always continue the learning process.”

About Edelweiss Connect

Edelweiss Connect has developed computer software that helps combine data from many different sources and formats into a useable form for evaluation and re-use. In addition, we have developed other software programs that can use the collected data and data from in vitro tests to predict the safety of chemical compounds in the human body.

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