My name is Donika Klenja, and I was born and raised in the city of Debar in North Macedonia. Early during my education, I developed a strong passion to pursue medical research. Therefore, in 2018, just as I graduated from high school, I left my country and moved to the UK to study for a BSc Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Bristol. During my time there I reinforced my curiosity to explore cancer mechanisms and novel treatment methods, and I started aiming for a career in translational cancer research.
After graduating in 2021, I was fortunate to be chosen as one of the 7 students to pursue a doctoral training programme in precision cancer medicine here at the Jacquie Wood Cancer Centre, at Ninewells Hospital, within the School of Medicine at the University of Dundee. This PhD project is fully funded by the Ninewells Cancer Campaign and is jointly supervised by Dr Laureano de la Vega and Prof Russell Petty. The aim is to investigate the full potential of a gene called BACH1 as an anti-metastatic target in primarily lung, pancreatic and breast cancer, which is very close to my heart.
I am forever grateful to the Ninewells Cancer Campaign and the University of Dundee for their incredible support and for allowing me to train in interdisciplinary cancer research and its clinical application, which fits exactly with my career interests. In such a collaborative and vibrant environment with bright researchers, I am enthusiastic to see where this PhD journey will take me. I believe that it will open exciting doors for me in the future, while working towards finding a cure and a better understanding of the debilitating disease of cancer.