Parcival Maissan joins the WELCOME2 team

Parcival Maissan joins the WELCOME2 team and takes the position of a PhD student in Prof. Carsten Carlberg’s nutrigenomics group as part of the NUTRIOME MSCA Doctoral Network. Along with nine other PhD students from across Europe, Parcival will be trained in multi-omics and data-driven research within the field of precision nutrition by learning to manage and interpret large, complex data sets from dietary interventions.

What is the focus of your research?

In my project the grand overarching objective, together with the other PhD students involved, is to obtain an algorithm which can give someone personalized dietary recommendations. These are envisaged to produce an overall positive effect on their (epi)genome when it comes to healthy aging. 

My role in this project will mainly be to provide data used in the creation of the algorithm based primarily on (epi)genomic profiles, and secondarily on transcriptomic profiles taken from immune cells obtained from persons participating in a nutritional intervention study, as well as on earlier generated data. 

What organizations/institutions have you studied or worked in?

I studied biomedical sciences with a major in medical biochemistry and metabolic diseases at the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands). I did my internships at the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences on the cell cycle as well as at the European Research Institute for the Biology of Ageing on the role of senescence and senolytics in cancer, as well as the role of senescence in caloric restriction.

After studying I worked as a biology teacher at two secondary schools, and later on I switched to teaching at the University of Amsterdam at the Life Sciences Department. Afterwards, I worked at the Public Health Service of Amsterdam during COVID-19 pandemic to perform diagnostic tests in the lab. My last job was as a teacher at the University of Utrecht at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Department of Cell Biology, Metabolism and Cancer. When I informed them of my PhD there, I learned that some of my colleagues were actually collaborating with this institution already. 

What do you consider the greatest achievement in your career so far?

I hope to one day be able to bring together my passion for both science and teaching in a career. I was able to become a teacher, but to be able to combine it with science, a PhD is generally required. Therefore, obtaining this PhD has been the biggest achievement towards that career goal so far. 

What was your motivation to join WELCOME2 team?

Well, my view is that while the average human lifespan is steadily growing, the age-related diseases are occurring at an increasingly earlier age. At the same time there is a global drug shortage. Therefore, I believe the most important questions in the medical field right now are related to metabolic and nutritional interventions to improve healthy ageing without the necessity of drugs intake. 

For me the NUTRIOME project offered here in the ERA Chair WELCOME2 team ticked all the boxes concerning research that I find of most importance, and I am very passionate about, so I decided to apply.

What are your research goals to pursue in the near future? 

It will be quite some time until the nutritional interventions can actually start. In the meantime I will work on improving my bioinformatics skillset and learning the required wet lab techniques. I will, therefore, be working on some biological questions I find interesting regarding vitamin D and will help analyze new samples arriving to the lab. For example, I am currently looking into the effect of vitamin D on circadian and seasonal rhythm.

What are your outside of work interests? 

I am very passionate about nature and the outdoors. Back home I used to be a volunteer at the scouts, and was often outside enjoying outdoor activities. I think Olsztyn is very suitable to continue many of the things I used to do such as hiking, cycling, horse-riding and sailing, as well as cataloguing local flora and fauna as I go through nature. My only indoor hobby is cooking – I can spend long hours in the kitchen. What’s more, I have recently got interested in brewing. 

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