Meet Lada Staskova who started her scientific journey at the Univeristy of Tasmania where she studied her Bachelor degree in Business and Science. She is now in her last year of finishing a Master degree of Science in applied chemistry at RMIT University. She believes that “no matter of your background, skills or knowledge if you have a passion for science and dedication you will succeed.”
Ms. Staskova joined Trajan Scientific and Medical as part of her research program two years ago, as a student intern, and started her project in collaboration with Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI). One of her main projects focused on testing the usability of hemaPEN®, Trajan’s new blood micro sampling device, at the Royal Children’s Hospital Pathology Collection Center. “We looked at how qualified phlebotomists can collect blood using the hemaPEN and also how they can follow the protocol without any training.” Ms. Staskova said.
The hemaPEN is a blood microsampling device, which can be used by both researchers and healthcare professionals. It is minimally invasive and allows convenient sampling for collecting four identical, volumetrically accurate, dried blood spot (DBS) samples for further analysis.
As one of Trajan’s latest health-related technologies, hemaPEN aims to remove the barriers to broader adoption of the DBS technique, delivering volumetric accuracy and eliminating the haematocrit* bias and thereby enabling quantitative analytical measurement.
Ms. Staskova also looked at how collecting accurate volume (using the hemaPEN) impact the known hematocrit bias in DBS. She compared the standard dried blood spot method with the hemaPEN across five different hematocrit levels and used a globally accepted workflow at the Victorian Clinical Genetics Services Newborn Screening laboratory.
The ambitious researcher stated that the result shows the complexity of the hematocrit effect. The volumetric bias is not the only bias, “the so-called blood bias and extraction bias are other areas that need to be considered when using dried blood spots,” she added.
About her experience at Trajan, she said that she gained an inside on industry research. “I have seen the importance of collaboration between industry and research so that industry representatives, such as Trajan, can understand the needs of researchers and clinicians and further tailor research and products in response to the demand of the customers,” said Ms. Staskova.
The soon expected graduate is also testing different substrates and extraction kits to maximise the yield of DNA extracted from dry blood spots, using a new material developed at Trajan.
Initially, she wanted to expand her skills in laboratory settings and also get more experience in an industry setting by getting to this field. However, she found herself growing even further.
“I personally, have expanded my knowledge in several areas. I have developed not only laboratory skills, but I have also learnt how to coordinate research project, the process of ethics and governance, participant recruitment, data collection, and data analysis,” she said.
Dr. Andrew Gooley, Trajan’s Chief Scientific Officer, says that “structuring a collaboration through world leading medical research groups like the MCRI and industry by supporting higher degree candidates is a benefit to all parties.”
He believes that Lada Staskova is contributing significantly to the work of researchers and scientists at Trajan, to address the limitations of traditional DBS technology, such as sample handling, sample contamination, volumetric accuracy and elimination of the haematocrit bias on analysis.
*the haematocrit varies in everyone – typically within a healthy range of 35-55%.