who we are

Early Stage Researchers

Meike Hedwig Keuters

What is your project/research about?

My project focusses on ischemic stroke in rodent models. The major goal is to study potential drug candidates to improve the outcome of ischemic stroke and to reduce secondary injury, respectively reperfusion injury, triggered by oxidative stress, which is characterized by a rapid and massive production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS).

I am mainly working with a novel orally-acting molecule, the so-called ADA-409-052 (052), that has been shown to have beneficial effects in the outcome of stroke. This small molecule acts as a functional mimetic of glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPx4), targeting ROS- and RNS-induced lipid peroxidation. GPx4 catalyzes the reduction of lipid hydroperoxides at the expense of glutathione. 052 was designed to exercise GPx4 function independent of glutathione. Summarizing, my recent work is dedicated to confirm the modulatory and beneficial effects of 052 on neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in different in vitro and in vivo models of ischemic stroke.

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

I was searching for PhD positions in the field of stroke research and for positions in Nordic countries since they are known for the good scientific environment, when I found the description of my current position. From the first moment I was stunned by the possibilities this project and the connected benefits of the Marie Curie ITN offered. The project included research topics that were fitting my major research interest, combined with state of the art techniques and methods. Furthermore, the possibility to be part of such a beneficial europe-wide network, and thus having the chance to connect professionally with other research groups and fellows from the early beginning of my scientific career on, seemed to be a chance that I wouldn’t want to miss. Not only the yearly meetings with all PhD students and supervisors to receive trainings, workshops and increase subject-specific or transferable skills, but also the possibility to exchange knowledge and success or to discuss problems and possible throwbacks, sounded very promising to me. Another big plus of the ITN system is the possibility to directly work with other research groups of the networks in form of the secondement. Being able to rule out a project in a different laboratory, with a possibly different main focus, different equipment, and different co-workers was a promising approach/ process in order to become an independent, well trained young researcher.

What is so fascinating for you on research in general?

Science never stands still.

In research you always have to keep on moving, keep on searching, learning, digging. It is a profession that forces you to educate yourself and (later-on) your team constantly. There is always something new to discover and with a good spirit/ esprit you will never run out of ideas and hypothesis to prove. That makes research extremely fascinating. Once you discovered something it doesn’t mean that the work is done. No matter what you find, out of it always arises the next question that asks to be answered and that asks to be your next goal.

Of course, being forced to learn and to try to keep up with the new discoveries can be quite challenging and demanding but it also promises that you can live out your ideas and new hypothesis.

In neuroscience and especially in my field, stroke research, the major goal is to find a way to make the life of so many people, suffering from stroke, a bit easier, to improve their state of health and life quality. That is very encouraging to never give up because eventually your work might have a real impact.

What do you do in your free time?

  • Gym
  • Cross country skiing or running
  • Languages
  • Baking

What are your plans for your future?

I aim to stay in academic research and thus my next step would be to find a post-doc position in a laboratory that is well-established in the field of stroke research. Although, I have been working partly with Parkinson’s disease my main interest is ischemic stroke. Thus, I would enjoy continuing my work with different stroke models in vitro and in vivo. Of course the very next step would be one or two post-doc positions but later on the possibility of becoming a senior researcher, supervising undergraduate and graduate students, and possibly becoming a PI on my own, sounds like a very good plan... Next to research, teaching would be a great achievement, educating the future generation of stroke researcher.

Regarding our meetings:

Please give a short summary what you remember about are Network Meetings?

The network meetings were always a delightful event with good training sessions and a very welcome opportunity to interact with the other PhD students from the network. It was great to gather with the co-fellows but especially the opportunity to interact with the hosting PI as well as the other attending PIs and partners. The combination of scientific and leisure events was in good balance, providing time to interact and connect, and especially providing a positive and relaxed atmosphere.

Although it was exciting to present our data to the whole network, it was a very good training and preparation for other official meetings and presentations outside the network.

What are the impressions and learnings you take with you from each meeting?

Each of the meeting was connected to many learnings and impressions. The meetings clearly pointed out how important good networking is in order to achieve goals. Of course, each research group works on its own but the meetings demonstrated how useful good collaborations can be and have proven to be. And to me, it was always pointed out how important it is to constantly keep up with new developments and that you should never become too comfortable with your own knowledge and achievements even though you are a well-known PI yourself. Neuroscience is a very fast evolving field and only continuous and plenary learning and training can lead to fruitful work and meaningful results.

What was the most useful workshop?

The biostatistic course in Brescia was a very good course and much appreciated.

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