Bright sparks: Daniela Zalcenstein

Bright sparks: Daniela Zalcenstein

Illuminate newsletter index page, summer-2020-21
December 2020


Dr Daniela Zalcenstein believes the next big breakthrough
will be single cell multi-omics.

Growing up in Germany, Dr Daniela Zalcenstein never expected she would become a scientist.

“I wanted to be a veterinarian since I was four years old,” she said. “But at the time, there was an oversupply of veterinarians. My neighbour was a professor in biotechnology, and he convinced me to give that a go instead.”

Dr Zalcenstein said she loved the fast pace of the technology sector. “I have an engineering degree in biotechnology, which meant I knew how machinery worked and how to fix it but not the science behind it,” she said.

“While working in industry fixing some machinery at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, there was a custom strike, and I was stuck there for a few weeks. By the end of my stay, I was offered a PhD position in human genetics and subsequently a postdoctoral position to establish a next generation sequencing lab.”

A new focus

Dr Zalcenstein was instrumental in establishing Australia’s first ‘single cell multi-omics’ platform at WEHI, with Dr Shalin Naik, which is available to scientists in the Parkville precinct.

She and her colleagues recently published a study that used single cell multi-omics to reveal a new stage in immune cell development.

“Our results will enrich future immune studies and underpin the application of this technology to a range of research questions,” she said.

“I think the next big breakthrough will be single cell multi-omics. We’re on the cusp of this technology now but I think in the next five years it will really take off.”

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