Category: Research

Volunteering to support the COVID-19 testing effort

Mariya Chepisheva is a third year PhD student in the Department of Brain Sciences. However, more recently, she has been volunteering in her home country of Bulgaria to support the COVID-19 testing effort. Here, she shares her experiences of working in a clinical lab during the pandemic.

Mariya Chepisheva wearing PPE and working in the clinical laboratory
Mariya Chepisheva

I’m currently in the third year of my PhD. My project concentrates on vestibular perception, postural control and spatial orientation in patients with acute and chronic progressive affections of the central nervous system. In order to answer the questions central to my research, I’m using Virtual Reality (VR), 3D body tracking and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to learn more about the perception of balance and spatial orientation under vestibular guidance.

However, since August, I’ve stepped away from my PhD research to volunteer my expertise as a molecular biologist, so as to provide a small contribution to my community in light of COVID-19. Having various skills in different fields always puts you in a situation where you can and want to help others.

To help meet the demand for COVID-19 related tests, I have been volunteering part-time in a clinical laboratory for biochemical and haematological analysis located in the town hospital of Haskovo, Bulgaria. I am not a first-time volunteer here, as I helped on a full-time basis in the summer of 2017. Back then, I performed biochemical (approximately 35 parameters) and haematological analysis (complete blood count, PTT, aPTT, fibrinogen activity and erythrocyte sedimentation), hormones, tumour markers, ELISA, HIV 1/2, Hepatitis B and C, Syphilis tests.  I remember how afraid of blood I was at the time, and I’m truly proud of myself and how working in a clinical laboratory has totally changed my attitude and erased my fear. Working with thousands of blood samples all day, every day was a step that I took to grow, not only as a molecular biologist broadening my horizons and skills to work with human tissue, but also as a human being helping others.  (more…)