School of Medicine

Maja Gabric, MSc Stem Cell Technology and Regenerative Medicine

Maja chose to pursue her master's at Nottingham due to her interest in stem cell research. She compared different programmes, consulted with a friend studying at Nottingham, and found the stem cell technology programme to be the best fit. She found the practical experience invaluable and enjoyed working with her personal tutor and various lecturers.

“After comparing the modules and programme objectives of different courses, I found several that interested me. The course at Nottingham stood out as some of the best. Additionally, I had a friend who was studying here, so I spoke to her about her experience with the university. This led me to ultimately choose and apply to study at Nottingham.”

What are the best things about the course?

“What's great about the course is how it's set up. During the first semester, we covered the background knowledge that is important for both laboratory work and the specialised second semester. One particular module was focused on pluripotent stem cells, which provided a well-organised and thorough overview of stem cells in general. Additionally, the module on cell development and molecular biology was beneficial, even for those who had studied similar topics during their undergraduate studies.

In my case, my interest was in heart regeneration. During my undergraduate studies, discussions and lectures on heart disorders and blood-related issues were something in which I was interested.

Based on this I chose my research area through a process of exploring available options, but what really helped me decide was reaching out to the Principal Investigator (PI), which for me was Chris Denning. These conversations played a key role in my decision and helped me assess how well we'd work together and how the project fit the lab's context.

Also, the practical experience in November was timed well, giving us confidence and familiarity in the lab before our research projects. All in all, the course structure and the early hands-on work made learning a lot more exciting.”


How has the support on offer been?

“Transitioning from undergrad to postgrad was a big change, and I felt well-supported throughout. My personal tutor, Alex Thompson, along with all the other lecturers, were incredibly responsive. Whenever I emailed them about module-related queries or any other questions, they'd get back to me quickly. Everyone was helpful and any issue I had was resolved instantly. I talked to other people from my course, and they had the same positive experience. Also, Nick Hannan was the Module Leader for Pluripotent Stem Cells and Research Skills. I really liked his approach of bringing in interesting stories and real-life examples that weren't necessarily part of the modules but helped us see how things that we were learning are used

in real life. I enjoyed all his lectures and I know that people who work in the lab with him enjoy working there.

Overall, I would say that all lecturers did a great job, even in modules that I initially thought I might not enjoy as much. The way they presented the content made it engaging and relevant. Everyone contributed to making the learning experience enjoyable.”

“The course provides invaluable knowledge and hands-on experience in the lab. You get to meet some really amazing lecturers and researchers from different areas.”

What has been the most rewarding part of your postgraduate studies?

“The most rewarding aspect of my postgraduate studies has been the research project. It's provided the opportunity to apply the knowledge and lab work I've gained through my course. Not just on an individually tailored project, but as part of a bigger team. This is something I've looked forward to since starting university, particularly in my field. It's like finally realising that I'm doing what I've been working towards.

My project focused on examining how the engineered structure of the heart impacts its function. I used stem cells to create cardiomyocytes and then crafted engineered heart tissues from those cells. This allowed me to study their function closely. What fascinated me the most was observing these cells and tissues beating on their own. It was an incredibly exciting experience. What makes it even more interesting is the potential impact. The engineered tissues could potentially aid in healing after heart attacks or heart diseases.

For my project, which was conducted in November and December, I was solely based at the Biodiscovery Institute which is a fantastic working environment.”

What does ‘success’ look like for you?

“Success, for me, involves finding a job in the industry, preferably lab-based or within the field of medical communications. I do plan on pursuing a PhD, but I'm waiting for the right opportunity as a PhD involves a significant time commitment of three to four years.

Ultimately, success means doing something that makes you happy, you enjoy and look forward to. For those entering the field and opting for a research-oriented path, the ultimate aim is to use research to make positive contributions to others' lives.”

What does the future hold?

“My degree has well-prepared me for my future, even though I'm not currently pursuing a PhD. The knowledge I've gained, from theoretical concepts like stem cells, cancer therapies, and regenerative medicine, to hands-on experience in the lab, has prepared me for what lies ahead.

The practical skills, including working with new techniques and creating tissue are something that I will use in my future career. Moreover, the presentations I've delivered have improved my communication and presentation skills, which are valuable skills in any workplace.

For example, in the second semester, we had a module focusing on adult and foetal stem cells, with different lecturers presenting on each type. This allowed us to interact with experts from various areas, including doctors, who are not necessarily only in research.

Whether you choose to pursue a PhD, enter the industry, or explore other pathways, the knowledge and experiences gained throughout the year are a solid foundation for your future career.”


School of Medicine

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Nottingham, NG7 2UH

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