postheadericon Curriculum Vitae

(1) Druskininkai Pusynas Spa, (2) Druskininkai St. Virgin Mary  Church, (3) Lake Druskonis, (4) Druskininkai AquaPark, (5) Mushrooms, (6) Druskininkai Marriage Hall, (7) River Nemunas, (8) Lithuanina landscape, (9) Lithuanina Sunset - © Edita Aksamitiene

Early days

I was born on 30th March, 1979 in Kaunas, the second largest city of Lithuania, the Baltic country, which back then was titled as The Lithuanian Republic of Soviet Union, restored its sovereignty via the declaration of independence on 11 March 1990 and joined the European Union in 2004. However, I spent my days as a child and a teenager in Druskininkai, a town known for its health spa amenities, streams of natural mineral water, curing mud, mild climat, beautiful lakes, parks, groves and surrounding dense forests, where I used to go picking up various ripened berries and gathering tasty mushrooms.

High school education

At age 7 I started to attend Kaunas Kuprevicius (32) Secondary school, which was famous for its youth chorus and had somewhat enhanced subject of music. Please, note that in Lithuania a secondary schoool offers all levels of pre-college education, starting from elementary level up to the secondary level, and thus is equivalent to High school in United States. After completion of the 6th grade, I moved to live with my grandparents and joined Druskininkai 4th Secondary school, which has enhanced English language courses and is famous for Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships. After completion of 8th grade, I decided to attend Druskininkai "Atgimimas" secondary school, which had enhanced humanitarian profile and outstanding teaching personnel. My 9th grade teacher of biology (Vytautas Šlajus) was an avid bird watcher, who influenced us to attend his curated hobbyist "Green School" and create the Ornithology group to go on various birdwatching and educational tours as well as voluntary help missions. I also attended several National Biology olimpiads and started to feel that my future may be linked to Biology.

University (tertiary-tier) Education

In 1997, after graduation of Druskininkai "Atgimimas" secondary school, I applied for different degree programmes in few Lithuanian universities. Namely, I applied for Biology at Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University (VMU), Biology at Vilnius University and Chemical Technology and Engineering at Kaunas University of Technology. I was admitted to each of these universities and was fortunate enough to choose, where I would like to study.

After thorough examination of the list containing the offered undergraduate as well as graduate courses, I decided to stay in Kaunas and pursue the Bachelors of Science (B.Sci) degree in Biology at the Faculty of Environmental Sciences (re-organized and renamed to the Faculty of Natural Sciences since 2001). VMU Biology programme was intertwined with chemistry, biochemistry and environmental studies. Moreover, VMU offered valuable courses in Informatics, and I believed that knowledge of new information technologies and their usage is going to solidify my background and skills.

Undergraduate Studies

It took four years to complete all the courses required for Bachelor's degree programme. My GPA was 3.65 (in European system 9.137 out of 10) I successfully defended (A or 10) the Bachelor's Thesis entitled "Antigenic differentiation of some Waterfowl (Anseriformes) bird species" publicly in the presence of a Thesis Examination Committee. I tested the patterns of antigen-antibody interaction by double radial immunodiffusion assaay (Ouchterlony method) in agar gels to determine the evolutionary relationship among various Anseriformed species based on their antigenic differences. My Thesis advisor was Prof. Dr. A. Sruoga (currently Head of Biology Department at VMU), and this population genetics research was performed in the Laboratory of Molecular Ecology at Institute of Ecology of Nature Research Centre in Vilnius (Lithuania).

Graduate Studies

After obtaining B.Sci in Biology degree in 2001, I applied for Medical Biology and Molecular Biology academic programmmes at Vilnius University, but was not addmitted because all vacant places were filled by priority with the VU graduate students. Thus I entered the Molecular Biology & Biotechnology Master's programme in VMU, which I finished in 2003 with GPA 3.92 (in European system 9.8 out of 10) and successful defence (A or 10) of the Master's Thesis entitled "The analysis of apolipoprotein E polymorphism among the cardiovascular patients of Kaunas city" My Thesis advisor was Prof. Dr. A. Paulauskas (currently Dean of Faculty of Natural Sciences at VMU), and the research, which included DNA extraction from patients' blood samples and PCR-RFLP, else titled as Cleaved Amplified Polymorphic Sequences (CAPS) genotyping analysis, was performed at VMU Biochemistry laboratory in collaboration with Cardiology Clinics, Hospital of Lithuanian University of Health Sciences.

Apolipoproteins are carrier proteins that bind lipids to form lipoprotein particles, thus enabling their transport through the lymphatic and circulatory systems. ApoE is blood plasma protein that mediates the transport and uptake of cholesterol and lipid in tissues by way of its high affinity interaction with the members of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor family. ApoE exists as three isoforms that have important distinct functional and biological properties. apoE3 and apoE4 isoforms are recognized by the LDL receptor, whereas apoE2 binds poorly to this receptor and is associated with type III hyperlipidemia. In addition, apoE4 isoform is associated with the common late-onset familial and sporadic forms of Alzheimer's disease, whereas apoE2 is protective.

Postgraduate Studies

In 2003, I joined the Biochemistry Doctoral programme of Proteins, Enzymology and Bioenergetics. The education at PhD course includes the deep studying of the theoretical fundamentals of the chosen specialty and fulfillment of the independent scientific research, the main results of which should be published in the peer-reviewed journals, which are recommended by the Attestation Commission. The detailed working plan was formed for each semester and at its end the attestation was conducted at the meeting of department. At this attestation the estimation of the fulfilled plan was discussed with the recommendations to me and my academic supervisor Prof. Dr. V. Miladažienė, to whom I am so grateful for illuminating and putting me on the cell biology researcher's path (Dear Vida, you definitely had a vision!). During the education at PhD course I passed through the official exams on Special Disciplines such as Educology etc. I assisted in Biochemistry laboratory method book writing and "Cell Biology" teaching. Dr. Mildažienė suggested to conduct the research in her collaborator's Dr. Boris N Kholodenko's Systems Biology group, which I joined as a Research Assistant C after obtaining J1 visa. In December of 2007 I successfully defended my PhD Thesis entitled "The role of docking protein GAB1 in epidermal growth factor receptor signaling" and continued to work in Dr. Kholodenko's Lab as a Postdoctroral Research Fellow till 2014.

Postdoctoral Studies

My postdoctoral work and projects are described in "Research". Also you will find the links to Receptor Tyrosine kinases and EGF receptor-mediated signaling, employing GAB1 proteins.

Current work

Currently I work as non-tenured research track Research Instructor at Department of Otolarylnogology - Head & Neck Surgery and Department of Pathology, Anatomy & Cell Biology at Thomas Jefferson University.