Ask the Expert

Join our new live career session. We present a unique opportunity for you to get sound career advice from leading scientific experts and ask them questions in an engaging online session.

Thursday 14th January 2021 | VIEW VIDEO

Careers in science regulation and policy

Janka Mátrai, European Research Council Executive Agency

Janka Mátrai, PhD is a scientific officer at the ERCEA - The Executive Agency of the European Research Council (ERC), Life Sciences Unit, Brussels, Belgium ( She is at the forefront of scientific regulation and policy, with responsibilities for the whole life cycle of applications, grants and various steps of the grant evaluation process. She is also involved in the widening participation campaign which aims to close the gap between the EU13 countries and the rest of the EU. Prior to this, Janka worked as a scientific/technical project officer at the European Commission, Joint Research Centre – Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements in the Standards for Innovation and Sustainable Development, Reference Materials for Biotechnology and Life Sciences Unit (June 2013 – February 2016). 

Her PhD was completed in July 2005 at the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL), Leuven, Belgium, supported by a Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) grant. After which she continued with scientific research as a postdoctoral research scientist in areas of Biochemistry and Bioinformatics in the field of Molecular Modeling and Drug Design at KUL, FWO (July 2005 – May 2006); Fundamental and Translational Medical Research at the KUL-VIB, Vesalius Research Centre (May 2006 – December 2010); Gene Therapy and Regenerative Medicine at Janssen Pharmaceuticals-VIB-KUL, VUB (January 2011 – December 2012).

Janka has earned several national and international prizes and fellowships: EHA, AFM France, J&J-COSAT-IWT, FWO, co-authored two book chapters and contributed to over 18 scientific publications in top international journals (IF>10, 5), many of them in international collaborations. She is also a member of the Association for Glycogen Storage Disease UK, and cofounder of the Belgian Club of Hungarian Scientists ( 


Careers in Industry | VIEW VIDEO

Dr Takis Athanasopoulos, GSK

12 February 2021, 17:00 CET

Dr Takis Athanasopoulos is head of vector & transgene as part of the Cell & Gene Therapy Research & Discovery platform at GSK, Stevenage, UK. Before joining GSK, Takis was a Lecturer in Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Wolverhampton (September 2011-2016) and Academic Visitor/Research Consultant for the Gene Therapy Group at Royal Holloway University of London. Before joining the Faculty of Science and Engineering at UoW, Takis was a member of the Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery (CAVD) ( - an international network of scientists and experts dedicated to designing a variety of novel HIV vaccine candidates and advancing the most promising ones to clinical trials.
Takis has previously worked as a research scientist in the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) ( He has also worked on collaborative projects with scientists and clinicians at the Royal Free Hospital (UCL) and Imperial College London (ICL). Previously he has been funded by the State Scholarship Foundation SF/IKY (Greece), Muscular Dystrophy Campaign (UK), the Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery (CAVD) ( and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
He has developed critical expertise on various vector systems’ technologies through conducting, collaborating and managing a number of diverse research projects. He holds a BSc in Biochemistry from University of Patras, Greece, and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of London.
Areas of Research Interests: Gene Therapy, Virology, Genetic Vaccines & Research Consulting.

Tuesday 30th March 2021 | VIEW VIDEO

Start-ups and spin-out companies

Prof Vincenzo Cerullo, University of Helsinki

Vincenzo Cerullo is a professor in the Division of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Head of the Drug Research Program, HiLIFE fellow and Supervisor of the Translational Immunology Programme at the University of Helsinki. His primary focus is the eradication of cancer using immunovirotherapy (IVT) techniques and heads the IVT lab at University of Helsinki to pursue his research interests. His strong Biotechnology and Pharmacy background has contributed to his ground-breaking research. Since his PhD at the University of Naples, Federico II and a postdoc at Baylor College of Medicine, Vince has raised more than 5 million euros for research, produced tens of high impact scientific papers and patents and has co-founded a multimillion dollar spin-off company together with the University of Helsinki (VALO Therapeutics). Vince has been a recipient of numerous scientific awards and honours including the Outstanding Young Investigator award in 2014 by the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy and the Excellence in Research award by the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy in 2015. Beyond his research pursuits, Vince is also involved in science dissemination, through Slush Y Science and presented on the importance of creativity in science at a TEDxHelsinkiUniversity talk in 2017.


Tuesday 18 May 2021 | VIEW VIDEO

Careers in Science Publishing

Kevin Davies, PhD

British science writer Kevin Davies, Ph.D., is the founding editor of Nature Genetics, the Executive Editor of The CRISPR Journal, and the author of EDITING HUMANITY: The CRISPR Revolution and the New Era of Genome Editing (Pegasus Books, 2020). Kevin’s latest book is the riveting story of the development of the Nobel Prize-winning CRISPR technology for editing genes, driving breakthroughs in science, medicine, and agriculture, while igniting ethical controversies about designer babies and the future of humanity.

Kevin has 30 years’ experience in science publishing and journal editing. He has also served as the chief editor of Cell Press and the publisher of Chemical & Engineering News. His previous books include Breakthrough: The Race for the Breast Cancer Gene; Cracking the Genome (translated into 15 languages), an inside account of the race for the Human Genome Project; and The $1,000 Genome, which details the revolution in personalized medicine and consumer genetics. He also collaborated with Nobel laureate Jim Watson and Andrew Berry on DNA: The Story of the Genetic Revolution. The CRISPR Journal is a sister journal to Human Gene Therapy, which Kevin also supports as Executive Editor.

Kevin holds degrees in biochemistry from Oxford University and a PhD in molecular genetics from the University of London. He did postdoctoral research at MIT and Harvard Medical School before hanging up his lab coat and taking his first editorial position with Nature. He currently resides in Washington DC.

Thursday 24 June 2021 | VIEW VIDEO

Careers as a Patent Attorney

Damien O'Farrell, Assistant General Counsel, GSK 

Damien O’Farrell holds a senior council (patents) role at GlaxoSmithKline with a focus on gene therapy. Damien joined us to discuss his career path and his role as a patent attorney, and shared his advice on how you can pursue a similar career.