Previously based in Melbourne, Australia, Dr. Sandeep Gopal has made his way back to Scandinavia once again. While still within the world of academia, this time he is back in a different capacity.
As a biotechnology engineer, he first moved to Sweden several years ago to study his master's degree in molecular biology, with a specialization in applied biotechnology. Later he went on to Copenhagen to earn his Ph.D. in molecular cell biology before moving to Monash University, Australia - where he has been until recently.
“I would say that I have a bit of a mixed background, which has been beneficial as, from a research point of view, we try to incorporate many different aspects into our research,” explained Sandeep.
In early 2020, Sandeep received a grant from the Swedish Research Council, helping him to initiate a research group based at Lund University. An institution which he has been looking forward to joining. “I don't know if this is well known but Lund University has one of the largest cohorts of matrix biology researchers - this is one of the biggest in Europe,” highlighted Sandeep.
However, his laboratory's move to Sweden was delayed for about two years, as the pandemic’s effects were felt around the world. Despite the challenges COVID-19 presented, he and his team continued their research which brought them to Lund at end of 2021. Both colleagues from his laboratory in Australia, as well as his family, have joined him here. “These days, I spend most of my time outside of work with my family, in the park or going for walks, and so on. I have two young daughters, five and two years old, and they keep me pretty busy,” noted Sandeep.
Going forward, the group’s primary goal will be to understand how external molecules collectively control cell fate and identity, in addition to certain aspects of stem cell development. “In an organism, there are organic or inorganic molecules which exist outside of the cells. These extracellular molecules can control cell fate and decide how or what the cell must do in certain situations. So, we want to understand how these molecules influence stem cell behavior using simple invertebrate models. Then we can apply this in more complex ex vivo models, which will be useful for future translational research,” described Sandeep.
By joining the Center, he hopes to complement the research being done by other groups, using a variety of experimental models. “Currently, the invertebrate model that we use is not used by others at the Center - meaning that we can contribute to others here. At the same time, we want to use other models to test what we find in our research. The Center has these different aspects and would help in facilitating more collaborations,” concluded Sandeep.