1/5/2016 1 Comment
By Detina Zalli
We Speak Science (WSS) is a non-profit science education institute, established in 2014 by Dr. Detina Zalli (Harvard University) and Dr. Argita Zalli (Imperial College London). It has a mission to enhance science education in developing neighborhoods throughout the world whereby science education is severely lacking. In October 2015, WSS launched a competition for the best science poster. 1,256 undergraduate and graduate students participated in the WSS competition from all over the world, among these, the USA, UK, Italy, Macedonia, France, Greece, Finland, Netherlands, Albania, and Kosovo. The posters were judged by scientists and lecturers in Harvard University. Although the level of the participants was very high and the covered topics were very interesting, one student from Albania stood out with the quality of her works.
A Fourth year medical student from the Catholic University Our Lady of Good Counsel, Laura Peri, received the first price. Her research project was titled “Diabetic Pregnancy and Fetal Consequences.” In her Research in Durres Hospital, Peri and her team (Dr. Migena Prifti, Adriana Banaj, Ahmet Murati, Klea Troka, Pranvera Ramadani, Fatjon Hajdari, Vedat Sunguri and Besiana Zekaj) found that diabetic pregnancies had severe consequences on neonatal babies. In fact, babies of diabetic pregnancies showed cardiac anomalies, neural tube defects, and respirational problems among other anomalies (Peri et al., 2015). Laura Peri explains, “This is not surprising given that in pregnancy, there is an inevitable sharing of maternal nutrients through transport via the placenta, and changes in the maternal system affect the fetal plasma composition. If the mother has high glucose levels (hyperglycemia), excess glucose is shunted into the fetal system. This will result in a variety of fetal, neonatal, and postnatal consequences for the offspring including birth defects. It is thus very important to raise awareness of diabetic pregnancies to avoid life threatening complications for mother and the baby.”
When asked about the difficulty of research, Laura humbly replied: “Research is a big passion of mine, and if you are passionate about science, no matter how hard or difficult it gets, nothing can stop you. You work extra hard, and hard work always pays off. Passion and hard work together are an essential key that open the doors to success.” She also highlights the importance of teamwork, “I also have to thank my wonderful team for their continued support and enthusiasm, even when things did not look positive. We never stopped believing and we all did it. Without them, this would not have been possible. A big thank you also goes to my mentor Dr. Zalli. I am so thankful to have a supportive, caring, motivating, inspirational, and friendly mentor like you. You are my inspiration.”
About the Author
Detina Zalli, Ph.D. Harvard University
Co-founder and President
Dr. Detina Zalli is a Research Scientist and lecturer at Harvard University. Her research is focused on a group of proteins known to be involved in breast cancer invasion and in bone diseases such as osteoporosis. Dr. Zalli currently teaches both graduate and undergraduate dental and medical students and has directed and organized different courses on cell biology such as “Cilia and Human Disease”, or “Bone mechanosensation Mechanisms” in Harvard University. Dr. Zalli has been the chairperson for Harvard Lectures That Last and Director of the Biotechnology Journal Club in Harvard University. Her biggest passion is doing research and sharing her knowledge with others.
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