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Meet Publications Committee Member Evgenia Verovskaya

Posted By Connections Editor, Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Evgenia Verovskaya is currently a 3rd year postdoc in the laboratory of Prof. Emmanuelle Passegue at Columbia University Medical Center. She specializes in hematopoietic stem cell aging, clonal analysis, and bone marrow microenvironment and has been in the hematology field for 10 years. Evgenia earned her PhD in Medical Science from the University of Groningen and currently serves on the ISEH publications committee.

How did you find your way to the hematology and stem cells scientific field?
I have started my MSc program at University of Groningen at 2006, the year of publication of groundbreaking work of Dr. Shinya Yamanaka. As many other people at that time, I was extremely excited about the promise of stem cells. I had previously joined the lab of Prof. Gerald de Haan who was working on hematopoietic stem cells an internship. Following the internship, I joined his laboratory for my PhD studies.

And then how were you introduced to ISEH?
I was introduced to ISEH in the year of my PhD program – the majority of more senior postdocs and PhD students in the lab were ISEH members, and I heard a lot of great things about the society and the meetings. I then attended the Annual Meeting in Melbourne, Australia in 2010. I still keep in touch with several people during that meeting – ISEH really helped me to establish a lot of connections within the field.

Who was your most influential senior investigator mentor and how did he or she help you?
During my PhD and postdoc work, I was very lucky to work with three people who shaped me as a scientist – my PhD mentor, Prof. Gerald de Haan, my co-mentor, a senior scientist in the lab, Dr. Leonid Bystrykh, and my current postdoctoral supervisor – Prof. Emmanuelle Passegue. All of them are extremely critical researchers, and they taught me to be critical about my science. At the same time, their strengths are very different: Gerald is contagiously enthusiastic and optimistic about science, Leonid is very unafraid to try new approaches, while Emmanuelle is extremely thorough in shaping the whole picture. Having these great examples was invaluable for me.

How are you helping to mentor new investigators at your lab/facility?
During my PhD and postdoc periods, I supervised several master and bachelor internships. I love mentoring students, and find it extremely rewarding. For me, a big part of mentoring is letting a student have his/her independent research question, and have “ownership” of a project, even if it is very small. This way, when they make an exciting discovery, they know that it is their contribution to science. Sharing the excitement about new results, technique or publication is another key part of mentoring for me – research is hard work, and usually underpaid, so I think having fun and enjoying gaining new knowledge is essential.

There are a lot of interesting aspects of this scientific field; what do you find the most exciting?
As a trained pharmacist, I love the fact that stem cell research can in the future be applied in treating human diseases. My favorite example of “stem cells in action” is treatments of chemical eye burns with corneal stem cells (Holoclar) that allow the patients to regain their vision – how exciting is that? In the blood field, recent studies showed a lot of progress towards generating hematopoietic stem cells in vitro, and hopefully this will move towards a clinical trial in the foreseeable future.

What is the most exciting study or project happening at your lab/facility?
I am studying hematopoietic aging, so my answer will be very biased! Our lab has recently made a number of exciting discoveries of the mechanisms of HSC aging, including uncovering the roles of replication stress and autophagy in aging-related hematopoietic decline. Given the fact that we all age, the progress in this field has very broad implications.

Given your experience in the field, how have you seen the field change in the last five years?
In my opinion, the field has undergone a major change with the development of imaging and transgenic technologies that really accelerated progress in understanding of HSC regulation. Some of the key discoveries that these technologies enabled include understanding of HSC niches, tracking hematopoiesis in native non-transplant conditions, and updated understanding of hematopoietic tree. Moreover, better understanding of developmental hematopoiesis and molecular wiring of HSCs propelled the studies aimed at in vitro HSC generation.

What do you consider the biggest challenge currently facing the hematology and stem cells scientific field and how can it be managed?
I think one of the biggest challenges of the stem cell field at the moment is the negative connotation associated with the terms “stem cells” in the public view. I think we as scientists, need to do more to build bridges with the general public and to make the discoveries more easily understandable. We are working in an amazing field that delivers ground-breaking findings on a monthly basis, and it is important that this knowledge is shared with non-researchers.

How would you describe the funding climate for your specific type of research?
My project lays at the intersection of the hematopoietic field and aging. Unlike some other areas of hematopoietic research, such as blood cancers, there are not much specialized funding available for aging studies. As we now understand that many mechanisms driving blood aging and blood disease are shared, I hope that the climate changes in the new future.

What advice do you have for new investigators entering this scientific field?

As I am still a very junior investigator myself, this is a difficult question to answer. For people just entering the field, I would advise to have patience (there is no way around that four-month post-transplantation time point!) and to stay excited. We are working in the age of great discoveries that are worth waiting for.

What do you find most valuable about ISEH?
I find ISEH a unique platform for networking, and I think that the Annual Meetings provide a fantastic opportunity to communicate with the peers and to easily access leaders of the field. The members of society are very enthusiastic, and meeting people several times through the years, you create strong scientific and personal bonds. For a young scientist, it is also amazing as a means to get a name recognition – there are a lot of short talks from junior researchers, and you get a lot of feedback,

Why do you attend the ISEH Annual Scientific Meeting?
The structure of the meetings really facilitates participation from young investigators and provides ample networking opportunities. For instance, you can take part in “scientific speed dating” session and talk with Sean Morrison and Ben Ebert, one-on-one during the same night – which other meeting can boast such an event?

What is your favorite ISEH Annual Scientific Meeting memory?
That is a difficult question, since there are always so many memorable moments during the meetings! If I have to pick, my favorite memory is a social event at the 2012 Amsterdam meeting, a channel cruise followed by a night with live music. We are all very serious in the lab, and it was great to see lead investigators, postdocs and students dancing and having fun together!

What are your hobbies?
Yoga, reading

What is your favorite book?
Roald Dahl short story collection “Kiss kiss”

If you could meet one person (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

Catherine the Great, Empress of Russian Empire

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8/23/2018 » 8/26/2018
ISEH 47th Annual Meeting - Los Angeles, CA

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