Tanina Arab

Postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins university

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If you can dream you can do it.

What do you do?

I am a neuroscientist researcher working in the field of extracellular vesicles. Those small particles are described as cell to cell way of communication. A tremendous international effort has been made to better understand how those vesicles are release and uptake. Moreover, how their cargo including proteins and nucleic acids could betray the stat of cell of origin and how this same cargo affect targeted cells. I am currently investigated extracellular vesicles in different tissues and bio fluids samples for their potential to be used as neurodegenerative diseases biomarkers.

Why did you choose this field?

I was born and raised in Algeria. I love this beautiful multicultural country and go to visit parents quite often. I always been passionate about science and research experiments. I was addicted to some movies or TV shows on that. I was probably recognizing my future me their. After obtaining my bachelor degree from Mouloud Mammeri University, I had no other choice than to leave if I wanted to make it to the next level (this for sure what I wanted). I consulted with my mentor -Dr. Karim Houali- at that time (he is still one of my mentors actually) and he was very supportive, he has been himself in USA and Japan for research purpose. So I left in 2012, I was anxious because I knew what I was leaving behind me, but had no idea what to expect. I have been accepted in a master program at Lille university. My first steps there were though, different people with different vision and heavy competition which I didn't understood, since I never took others as a metric to evaluate myself. I was competing for sure but with myself and trying to be better daily. I also had to deal with racism, which was not easy, I guess my last name did help! But with the retrospective, I am laughing on that, those people are far behind and it is where they should be. I got my master, when I had to work at the same time, I had to retake some classes but that was fine, given the circumstances I knew I couldn't do any better. I kept pushing, and pass my exam in which I got reward with a PhD grant from lille university. I was very excited and happy to start this new chapter. Grad school is challenging, research in general is, you have to keep going even when it doesn't work smoothly. You have to rethink your experiment design, constantly optimizing your protocols, it is similar to what a cook chef will do with a new recipe, everyone knows chef reputation could be built on one meal/restaurant. I have made a lot of sacrifices, on the top of them being far away from my parents, what helped me to keep it up is this perspective on making impact on patient's life. Research and medicine are tied -Covid19 pandemic clearly demonstrated that-thinking that my research investigations could end up in clinical trials, that's what excite me the most and that's what pushes me to get up from the bed each morning, that's what let me working during weekends as needed. It is this infinite mind set kind of game that I am playing that makes me love my work. Because even if I will not be the one reaching this goal, my work is a legacy for other researchers, they could get inspiration from it or push it to the next level. I may even not be in this world when this will happen but I am delighted for my contribution as small or big it will be. I am surrounded by excellent researchers and role models both in the extracellular vesicles field and outside of it. I also get a lot of energy from coaches and motivational speakers. If I had to cite one, that will be without any hesitation Simon Sinek. His books, particularly ”Start With Why” changed my life for the best. Speaking on that, I am going to close my answer by charing my why. My why is to support people, so that, our obstacles today can become tomorrow's achievements”

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Having a PhD and moving to the one of the best institutions in the United States for my postdoctoral position. All of it, by maintaining a healthy personal life. I will never had imagined that this will be possible.

Why do you love working in STEM?

Oups, I might have answered this question already. But for sure it's the perspective of making patient’s life better with my work.

Best advice for next generation?

I would say if you can dream you can do it. Work on yourself, built your personality and don't forget to feed your mind daily! We often forget to do it, but it is a rare event that someone will forget to take a meal

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion -Simon Sinek

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