Ioannis Koulas From Greece Shares His #AmgenScholars Journey

Feb 16, 2018 1:45 PM ET

Ioannis Koulas

Thessaloniki, Greece

Host University: ETH Zürich

Home University: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Amgen Scholar Year: 2017

Major: Medicine

Expected Graduation: 2018

Journey to Science

How did you become interested in science?

It's a little embarrassing, but the truth is that I decided to follow a career in science as a doctor after watching lots of popular medical TV series during high school! It was only when I had my first doctor-patient interaction that I realized how important the work of a scientist is, both in a hospital's ward, as well as in a research lab.

Academic and Professional Ambitions

What’s the larger significance of your Amgen Scholars research? What’s your ultimate career goal?

My research project in a pharmaceutical immunology lab at ETH Zürich was about the unknown effects of PD-L1/PD-1 interaction on T regulatory cells inside lymphatic capillaries. It was a unique opportunity for me to learn how to test a hypothesis using state-of-the art laboratory equipment and to carefully assess the results of the experiments. I hope that in the future I will be able to expand my knowledge on immunoregulation and contribute to the development of new treatments against autoimmune diseases.

Why did you apply to the Amgen Scholars Program?

Initially, I never thought of doing something besides clinical practice. That changed for me when the professor of pharmacology in my medical school said during a lecture:"You can spend all your life treating hundreds of patients every day, but if you discover an effective drug you will instantly save millions.” The Amgen Scholars Program was my best chance of getting first-hand experience with research and getting one step closer at fulfilling my goals.

What aspects of the program did you enjoy most? What do you love about the Amgen Scholars Program?

I think the most important aspect for me were the people around me. I could never imagine that I would be in such an incredible lab as the one where I worked! All the lab members, including my supervisors and Professor Cornelia Halin, welcomed me and mentored me all the way through my project, providing me with meaningful advice and feedback, while constantly being friendly and supportive. I was also really lucky to meet and form lasting friendships with many of my charismatic fellow students, from both ETH and the other participating institutions, while at the same time being able to keep contact with the lab members after the end of my project, as well as our amazing program coordinator at ETH.

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