Introducing ESR6

Hi, nice to meet you! My name is Andris and in the CONSENSE network, I am known as ESR6.

I guess it is appropriate to start with my background. I was born and raised in Riga, the capital of Latvia, one of the Baltic States. In short, ever since high school, my whole life revolved around chemistry. To not sound cliché, let me explain.

Growing up I considered myself a “science kid”. I was really interested in literally anything as long as it sounded “science-y”, let it be looking at onion peel film under the microscope or trying to wrap my head around the angular momentum phenomenon in physics. But my chemistry teacher was the most instrumental in satiating my curiosity and rerouted it into an urge to study chemistry (especially organic chemistry, because who needs the easy way out, right?). You could probably guess where this is going.

I obtained my bachelor’s and master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Riga Technical University (RTU), Latvia. There, I received an excellent opportunity to learn about different strategies and synthetic procedures in organic chemistry and, most importantly, got to work (and sometimes tinker) with scary and menacing-looking machines like nucleic magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers and high-performance liquid chromatography machines.

Later in my studies, due to my diligent work (or maybe excessive tinkering with machines, I am still not sure), I was offered a research assistant position at the Institute of Technology of Organic Chemistry at RTU. For the curious little boy in me, it was a wonderful creative outlet to make a bunch of new, previously unknown chemicals that sometimes acted or looked weird. My main scientific focus was the synthesis and analysis of annulated pyrimidine derivatives, such as purines and quinazolines. These compounds are widely studied and used in biochemistry and biology, as some of them, for example, are crucial for life processes or disease/disorder treatment, while others make up our DNA and RNA.

After finishing my master’s, I wanted to explore possibilities out of my comfort zone and dive into something new. As I have previously worked with the synthesis of DNA/RNA building blocks, it seemed only logical to try “a step higher” – to work with DNA itself. Thanks to CONSENSE, I was able to join Professor Kurt Gothelf’s group at Aarhus University, Denmark. This is a life-changing opportunity to gain experience in the fields of oligonucleotide synthesis, DNA modification, protein conjugation, and all that together applied in biosensor technologies. I am genuinely grateful to be part of the CONSENSE ITN network and privileged to carry the ESR title.

Let’s say this was a decent introduction on my part. Time to wrap up!

Hope to see you again!

Author: Andris Jeminejs