Leading Researcher Baiba Vilne: RSU is Developing the Medicine of the Future
Looking back at her studies, Baiba Vilne, the leading researcher at Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) and the Head of the Bioinformatics Unit, explains that after completing her bachelor's degree, she was lucky enough to receive a German Academic Exchange Service (GAES) scholarship. Eventually, she was admitted to a master's programme at the Technical University of Munich. Vilne began to study molecular biotechnology and chose bioinformatics as her main subject.
Already during her doctoral studies, Vilne came into close contact with the clinic because her doctoral thesis involved studying haematopoietic stem cells and their niche interactions. After her studies, the young researcher stayed in Munich and started working at the German Heart Center studying coronary artery diseases and related genetic risks.
When applying for the GAES scholarship, Vilne knew she was going abroad to gain experience that she would bring back home. At that time, she only intended to stay for her master's degree and possibly also for doctoral degree, but not for the 13 years that she eventually ended up staying.
When asked about her reasons for returning, Vilne says that there is a lack of bioinformatics in Latvia, as elsewhere in the world. While Germany, for example, has already developed its own systems and hierarchies, Latvia provides the unique opportunity to build a bioinformatics unit from scratch.
‘RSU is pursuing a modern direction by developing students’ digital skills, including bioinformatics and medical image analysis, an interest in databases and data annotations, which are becoming increasingly important in personalised medicine. All of these new trends are already on RSU’s development agenda today,’ emphasises leading researcher Vilne.