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Irina Stefana

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Having trained in metabolism, Drosophila genetics and cell biology, I joined the DIL as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist in April 2017. My role at the DIL has been to establish a pancreatic islet-focused research programme in order to investigate the mechanisms underlying beta cell failure in type 1 Diabetes and the extent to which intrinsic beta cell fragility contributes to the risk of developing type 1 Diabetes, classically known as an autoimmune disease. My main project currently focuses on the role of the microtubule-associated protein Tau, and its presumed pathological hyperphosphorylated variants (pTau), in beta cells. 

Originally from Romania, I left home to enjoy the mulled wine and Christmas markets of northern Germany while studying Biology (with a focus on Cellular and Molecular Biology) at Jacobs University Bremen. I moved to London in 2009 to join Dr Alex Gould’s lab, then part of the MRC National Institute for Medical Research (which became the Francis Crick Institute), to work on a PhD project focused on lipid metabolism. There, I discovered the power and beauty of Drosophila as a model organism. I used fruit flies to establish a genetically-tractable model of the long-term effects of early-life undernutrition upon adult lipid metabolism and lifespan. I completed my PhD in October 2013 and, unwilling to leave the nest, continued in the lab as a postdoc investigating lifespan regulation by unsaturated cuticular hydrocarbons in Drosophila.  

In December 2015, I joined the Goberdhan and Wilson labs in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at the University of Oxford as a CRUK-funded Postdoctoral Research Scientist where I spent 1.5 years training in cell biology and super-resolution microscopy. There, my main research project has combined super-resolution microscopy and Drosophila genetic tools to investigate the role of the nutrient-sensitive TOR signalling pathway in membrane trafficking, and the biogenesis and secretion of dense-cored vesicles. 

Recent publications

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