I completed my secondary school education in Romania, specialising in advanced mathematics and informatics. During this time, I participated in various national and international scientific contests and expositions which have allowed me to develop a passion for biology and science in general.
I continued my undergraduate studies at the University of Oxford and obtained a B.A. in Biological Sciences in 2018. The course has allowed me to gain a broad knowledge of biological concepts whilst also enabling me to specialise in infectious diseases and immunology. In the second year of my undergraduate studies I undertook a BBSRC summer research experience placement in Oxford, under the supervision of Prof. Sunetra Gupta and Dr. José Lourenço. The work involved mathematical modelling of multi-strain pathogens and running simulations of pathogen-host infection scenarios under various conditions. This placement had further sparked my interest in theoretical epidemiology and disease, leading me to do my Final Honour School dissertation on a similar topic. Cumulatively, both projects have provided me with a firm understanding of epidemiological concepts and a good command of programming languages (C++, R, UNIX/LINUX).
After my graduation, I did an internship at the Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille Luminy (CIML) in France. There, under the supervision of Dr. Pierre Milpied, I devised and tested a new single-nucleus RNAseq protocol of archived frozen tissue samples using a murine model. As a result, I was able to expand my knowledge of immunology and learn valuable practical techniques such as flow cytometry.
My main research interests concern pathogen-host interactions, autoimmune diseases and the development of pathological processes in animals and humans. Importantly, my desire is to understand the adaptive immune response and the factors that shape its enormous diversity. During my doctoral studies, my aim is to combine both computational and laboratory-based methods in order to address these complex topics.
Aside from my academic interests, I am involved in several activities aimed at promoting science and scientific understanding back in Romania. I have also collaborated with Romanian NGOs that focus on decreasing the burden of infectious diseases through informing the public about vaccination and other prevention and control methods.
The aim of my project is to apply high-throughput sequencing to study the impact of various drivers of the adaptive immune repertoire of avian hosts. Therefore, factors such as microbial colonisation, vaccination, and infectious challenge will be evaluated in terms of their effects on the T and B cell repertoire. The outcomes of my DPhil research project will provide important information about the avian immune system, while also having the potential to guide current and future practices in the poultry sector.
Dascalu S*, Geambasu O, Raiu CV, Azoicai D, Popovici ED, Apetrei C*. COVID-19 in Romania: What Went Wrong? Front Public Heal (2021) 9:813941. 10.3389/fpubh.2021.813941
Dascalu S*, Flammer PG, Ghafari M, Henson SC, Nascimento R, Bonsall MB*. Engaging religious institutions and faith-based communities in public health initiatives: A case study of the Romanian Orthodox Church during the COVID-19 pandemic. Front Public Heal (2021) 9:768091. 10.3389/fpubh.2021.768091
Dixon R, Preston SG, Dascalu S, Flammer PG, Fiddaman SR, McLoughlin K, Boyd A, Volf J, Rychlik I, Bonsall MB, Kaspers B, Smith AL*. Repertoire analysis of γδ T cells in the chicken enables functional annotation of the genomic region revealing highly variable pan-tissue TCR gamma V gene usage as well as identifying public and private repertoires. BMC Genomics (2021) 22:719. 10.1186/s12864-021-08036-9
Ghafari M*, Hejazi B, Karshenas A, Dascalu S , Kadivar A, Khosravi MA, Abbasalipour M, Heydari M, Zeinali S, Ferretti L, Ledda A, Katzourakis A*. Lessons for preparedness and reasons for concern from the early COVID-19 epidemic in Iran. Epidemics (2021) 36:100472. 10.1016/j.epidem.2021.100472
Dascalu S*, Geambasu O, Covaciu O, Chereches RM, Diaconu G, Dumitra GG, Gheroghita V, Popovici ED. Prospects of COVID-19 Vaccination in Romania: Challenges and Potential Solutions. Front Public Heal (2021) 9:644538. 10.3389/fpubh.2021.644538
Dascalu S. The Successes and Failures of the Initial COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Romania. Front Public Heal (2020) 8:344. 10.3389/fpubh.2020.00344
Dascalu S. Measles Epidemics in Romania: Lessons for Public Health and Future Policy. Front Public Heal (2019) 7:98. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2019.00098