Ajda Pristavec

Pathway 1+3

Cohort 2022

Pathway Journey

My PhD focuses on understanding molecular mechanisms in age-related eye diseases (AREDs), including age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataract. I apply statistical and machine learning methods to extensive metabolomics and genomics data from over half a million participants from population-based cohorts. I aim to identify metabolomic biomarkers with translational potential for AREDs and improve the accuracy of prediction of individuals at risk for these diseases.

Rotation Projects
– Multi-omics characterization of non-coding disease alleles associated with a periodic fever syndrome
– Developing a functional and phenotypic single-cell atlas of bone marrow T cells in acute myeloid leukaemia and myelodisplastic syndrome
– A big data investigation of the influence of life-long metabolic factors that contribute to age-related eye diseases

Biography

I completed a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in biomedicine with focus on molecular and cellular pathophysiology, both at the Catholic University of Louvain (Brussels, Belgium). During my studies, I completed a 12-month master’s thesis project in molecular haematology, earning the award for the best master’s thesis in the class of 2022. During my bachelor’s degree I was granted an academic excellence studentship which enabled me to undertake a 4-month exchange visit at University of Dundee, UK.

I chose to join the MRC DTP not only because of its student-centred framework and supportive environment but also because it offers a fantastic opportunity to develop skills in bioinformatics and beyond. In fact, through my MRes rotations I reaffirmed my passion for computational biology and attended various workshops which contributed to the expertise required for my PhD project.

In addition to my research activities, I am a King’s Doctoral Students’ Association (KDSA) St Thomas’ Campus Representative, an editor at ScienceMind magazine and I also volunteer in several societies as a mentor for younger students. In 2023, I co-organised the King’s DTP Symposium.