It was just the beginning of the journey…
I am a Biomedical Engineer by background but the idea of doing the classic “engineer job” has never intrigued me that much. For this reason, when the time to choose my master thesis came, I decided to jump into the world of biomaterials for medical use, and that was just the beginning of the journey. At that time, I didn’t know that would have loved research so much.
When I first entered a Chemistry lab, I was not able to do even the very simplest thing. I was used to study electronics, mechanics, and robotics but I didn’t know how to pipette 1 ml. However, day by day I acquired more confidence and I felt in love with what I was doing, so I decided that research was my way.
After my graduation, I applied for the PhD program in Chemical and Materials Science, and that gave me the opportunity to learn more about drug delivery and many other things that I hadn’t studied before. The thing I didn’t know when I started my PhD was that it would have given me also the opportunity to live on the other side of the world and grow not only as a researcher but also as a person. In fact, right after defending my thesis I packed my things and moved to one of the coldest cities of the world, Pittsburgh, to work in the lab of Prof. Steven Little. After the initial “cultural shock”, struggling with a new life, and especially with a new weather, I started loving the place where I was and the different way to do research, with my own project to manage and decisions to make. That was exiting because it was the first time I was the only responsible of what I was doing with all the (many) pros and (few) cons. I spent there more than 2 years working on a long-term delivery system to treat eye diseases, and I discovered how important something like that is for all those patients who have to face a chronic pathology and deal with daily medications.
When I was in the US I thought it was the perfect place to be and do great science, but when I heard about the MINDED program I immediately realized that was the good occasion to come back to Italy and do what I like in one of the most prestigious research places in Italy. I started from what I had learnt in Pittsburgh, I re-shaped it to make it suitable for another field, and I applied. Fortunately, I was selected and in 2018 I was on a plain again with destination IIT Genova to join the group of Prof. Paolo Decuzzi. For the last 2 years and half I have been working on different long-term delivery systems for the release of molecules involved in the treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders, with the main goal of improving patient’s compliance and adherence to the treatment regimens.
Being a MINDED fellow has been a great opportunity to further improve my skills and my knowledge. I work in a stimulating environment, where my ideas have values and may contribute in improving how certain pathologies are treated. Also, being in Genova, 2 hour-driving from family and friends, and with the view of the sea from my apartment have had a big role in making these years even more amazing.
I know that this is not the final destination of my journey but another stop that helps me to arrive at my final destination.
Elena Bellotti is post-doc researcher at the Nanotechnology for Precision Medicine lab in Genova. MINDED project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 754490