Hello,

I'm Helena

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I am a bioengineer interested in studying how biotechnology could influence and shape our daily lives. 

My work is mainly focused on microbes -- bacteria, viruses, and related biomolecules -- and studying how they can help us understand and transform various aspects of life. I am a specialist in the field of synthetic biology: I program living cells to perform useful tasks that could advance diverse industry sectors, promote global health or protect the environment

I hold a PhD degree from the Bionanoscience Department of TU Delft, where I engineered bacteria to produce last-resort antibiotics from cheap and sustainable materials. Moreover, I developed tools to activate relevant biosynthetic enzymes within industrial microbes, in order to expand the range of natural products that can be manufactured via fermentation. Then, as a team leader at the start-up company Pantheon Biosciences, I worked on the discovery and development of novel antiviral drugs derived from Viperins, a protein family involved in bacterial anti-phage defense

In addition, I have a keen interest in exploring unexpected ways to study, exploit, and expose biotechnology in relation to society. I believe it's important to critically think about the implications of technology in a broader context, and to promote interesting connections with other disciplines. Therefore I have collaborated with artists, designers, educators, or industrial partners, to broaden the practice of science. My work includes founding a team to make a scientific video game, exhibiting an art-science work in a gallery, or organising workshops for different audiences.

RESEARCH: featured projects

 
 
Senior Scientist, Team Leader at Pantheon Biosciences 
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Pantheon Biosciences develops groundbreaking molecular tools based on new anti-phage defense systems discovered by the Professor Rotem Sorek’s lab at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Understanding the mechanisms of action of these new systems will potentially result in disruptive tools for biotechnological applications.

2019 - present - Merck Ventures BioIncubator, Israel

Findings published in Nature

Engineering antibiotic production in bacteria - PhD candidate

Combining synthetic biology and metabolic engineering tools to implement carbapenem antibiotic production in  E. coli.

Studying activation of Fe-S enzymes for biotechnology applications

High-throughput screening of Lantibiotic-mutagenesis libraries - Intern

Developing methods and protocols for high-throughput screening of synthetic lantibiotic peptides, using microfluidics and engineered L. lactis strains

2012 - ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Synthetic biology and genetic engineering of mammalian cells - Intern
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2011 - MIT, USA

Testing tools for genetic engineering and synthetic cell-cell communication in mammalian cells

Engineering bacteriophages for detection of pathogenic bacteria - Research engineer

2013 - 2014 - Institut Pasteur Paris, France

Genetic engineering of selected bacteriophages for in vitro and in vivo detection of bacterial pathogens.

 

SCIENCE & SOCIETY WORK

 

CREATION OF EDUCATIONAL VIDEO GAMES

BIOART

BIODESIGN

BIOHACKING

TEACHING /

iGEM ADVISOR

 

I have kickstarted and lead an interdisciplinary team to develop a synthetic biology video game.

Hero.coli is an open-source online game created to teach the fundamental concepts of synthetic biology and build intuition for DNA design. And it is fun !

I was a selected participant of the research project 'MAKING_LIFE' for art and synthetic biology.

In collaboration with artists I have exhibited the artwork 'Living Ashes' in Helsinki.

I have been invited to give lectures and run workshops on bioart for artists and/or STEM students.

In 2014, I have co-organised the 3-day biodesign workshop 'BODYWARE: new frontiers of digital technology' in Paris, in order to catalyse collaborations between the industry, scientists and designers.

Over the past years I have been invited to be a guest speaker, moderator and workshop organiser at different interdisciplinary conferences.

I co-supervised the TU Delft iGEM teams of 2015 (Grand Prize winner, 3 prizes, 4 nominations) and 2016 (3 prizes, 1 nomination).

I have participated as a teaching assistant at TU Delft and supervised Bachelor and Master student projects.

EDUCATION

2014-2018

Bionanoscience Department, Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, TU Delft, The Netherlands

PhD. Degree in Bioengineering -
Bokinsky Lab 

2015

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Summer School, USA

CSHL Synthetic Biology

2009-2013

Paris Institute of Technology for Life, Food and Environmental Sciences, France

M.Eng AgroParisTech

2015

Biotechnology Department, TU Delft

The Netherlands

Microbial Physiology and Fermentation Technology Post-Graduate Course

2012-2013

Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI), Paris, France

MSc. Interdisciplinary Approaches to Life Sciences 

2007-2009

Lycée Saint-Louis, Paris, France

Classe Préparatoire aux Grandes Ecoles - Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Physics (BCPST)
 
 
CONTACT

I am currently based in Paris, France.

I am always open to new exciting opportunities and collaborations, whether it's in science, business, bioart, biodesign or education.

If you want to learn more about my skills, click here!

 

For any questions/ enquiries/ requests, please contact me. I will reply ASAP :)

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