UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science


Miroslava Katsur

PhD Project Title: Investigating the cardioprotective potential of exosomes from different cellular sources

Picture of Miroslava

Supervisors: Dr Sean Davidson and Professor Derek Yellon

Lay summary:
Ishaemia and reperfusion (IR) injury is a major contributor to cardiomyocyte cell death following an acute myocardial infarction. New ways of protecting the heart from IR injury are sought. Exosomes are small lipid-membrane vesicles released by all cell types, which contain proteins, lipids and miRNA that can signal between cells. It has previously been shown that exosomes from blood plasma or from endothelial cells are cardioprotective. Pilot data from this laboratory has aso shown that exosomes from certain stem cells (but not all) are also cardioprotective. However, according to several studies, exosomes from fibroblasts are not. It is unclear what determines the cardioprotective potential of exosomes from different cellular sources. The aim of this project is to isolate exosomes from different primary cells and cell line sources, characterize them, and evaluate their ability to protect cardiomyocytes using an in vitro assay simulating IR injury. By understanding the mechanism of protection by exosomes, we hope to identify the optimal cellular source for potential future use of exosomes to protect the hearts of patients.

My Background 
Since I was a child, I have been fascinated by how this world works and therefore enjoyed reading encyclopaedias and scientific books. I was especially interested in studying biology and chemistry in school because I wanted to understand how our bodies function and what makes us healthy or ill. I thought that maybe I should be a doctor, but eventually I understood that my curious mind desires to make discoveries and invent novel treatments. I wanted to make a change and contribute to research about a disease which affects most of human population, so I could help to improve lives of as many people as possible. I got particularly interested in cardiovascular diseases, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. During my university studies, I did projects in all mentioned research areas so I could have better understanding which research I would like to do all my life. I discovered that cardiovascular health affects the likelihood of developing other serious diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s. This all has led me to undertaking Medical Research Council doctoral training programme in experimental and personalised medicine in the field of cardiovascular research. 

MSci with industrial placement (2012-7), Pharmacology, First
PGTA (postgraduate teaching assistant) (2018-ongoing)
In vivo Neuroscience Techniques (British Pharmacological Society, Physiological Society, BBSRC & MRC)
ScotPIL (Scottish Accreditation Board)

ERASMUS mobility grant (Nov 2015) awarded for my industrial placement during my master’s degree
Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) grant (Jun 2015) awarded for my summer project during bachelor’s degree
The Jim Duncan scholarship (2013-2015) awarded three times by University of Aberdeen based on academic potential

Member of European Society of Cardiology and British Pharmacological Society

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