Leila Ashtar

PhD Student

Studying the early stages of human embryonic development using 3D In Vitro models (Embryo-in-shell)

Leila is originally from Aleppo, one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. In 2018, she got her Bachelor’s degree with honours from the university of Hacettepe in Ankara, Turkey. Later on, she received funding from Institute of International education (IIE) and moved to Italy to pursue her graduate studies in Medical biotechnologies at the university of Padova
During this period she joined Professor Nicola Elvassore at the Venetian institute of molecular medicine (VIMM)for her thesis project. She spent most of her time working with 3D in vitro stem cells models and culture systems.

In her work, she used brain organoids from naïve hiPSCs to model the early stages of neural development in the Fragile X syndrome patients. After her graduation, she remained in the lab as a research assistant and afterwards she joined Dr Anna Urciuolo for her second fellowship to study the formation of neuromuscular junction in humans using in vitro organoids.

In October 2022, Leila joined Dr Stefan Giselbrecht team here at MERLN to study the human preimplantation embryo and to build an in vitro model that recapitulate this process.

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