Sophia Samodelov

Zurich University Hospital
TransBioLine project coordinator

What is your/your company current role in TransBioLine?
  • I have the pleasure of being the designated representative of the University of ZĂĽrich as Academic Project Coordinator of TransBioLine. Formally, the Coordinator functions as the central point of contact between project partners and the Innovative Health Initiative funding agency, coordinates and manages the grant and consortium agreements, distributes funds, oversees and is responsible for all reporting activities, and supports the Project Leader, Shashi Ramaiah, in the general oversight of project activities. I cannot say that I perform all these duties well and I certainly do not perform them single-handedly, but I can say that it has been a great honour and a massive learning opportunity for me to have been able to attempt to fulfil this role over the last few years.

    As the TransBioLine team members know, I mostly write very long emails, push Deliverables to be written up, play MC at general assemblies, and pester everyone about sustainability. But all jokes aside, I see the role of Coordinator as a supporting one, that should facilitate the work being done by the brilliant and diverse set of experts within TransBioLine doing the actual work.

What is your overall vision of the Project?
  • My overall vision (of the project) is to learn, improve, and share. While the focus of this project is to study, improve safety evaluations in the clinical space, and qualify biomarkers for use drug development programs, I believe involvement in this type of project prompts learnings well beyond the science itself. Focusing on the science and planned project outputs, TransBioLine ambitiously targeted and works towards the full regulatory qualification of safety biomarkers for 5 organ-specific toxicities, incorporating the evaluation of miRNAs in addition to more standard protein biomarkers. While we may ultimately fall short of our vast goals, significant strides have been made in understanding the behavior and utility of candidate biomarkers, whether in drug development or other areas.

    We have learned many things within TransBioLine and have accumulated an astounding amount of data and knowledge, in a relatively short amount of time, all things considered. I believe one area that may as of yet have remained slightly neglected is the sharing of our learnings. My vision in wrapping up this project is to fully and transparently disseminate as many of our findings and learnings as possible and productive, helping to pave the way for future work in the field of patient safety and biomarker research.

What have you found the most challenging/interesting during the Project?
  • Keeping my emails short(er). At least this answer is short.

What has been your/your company greatest achievement during the Project?
  • On an institutional level, UZH has contributed to the leadership of several work packages across the consortium (Project Coordinators in multiples, in particular). I hope to be able to confirm towards the end of the project that the greatest achievement still lies ahead of us, in ensuring a successful project wrap-up, with project output dissemination, and striving towards true sustainability of the work of the TransBioLine consortium.

What you consider will be the major impact of TransBioLine on the society / biomedical research area?
  • I believe we have arrived at a bit of an impasse in biomarker qualification efforts: the willingness to learn and improve is there, the technologies are there, if not available on the broader scale for some biomarkers, and the need for improved safety monitorability is clear. One major impact of TransBioLine may simply be having gained a greater understanding that there have always been several ways to adoption, and that not all avenues take the same amount of time. Constant themes on all paths towards adoption are collaboration, dissemination, and a constant re-thinking and re-evaluation of what the next best step may be.

Do you remember any anecdotes that occurred during the Project?
  • The regular ExCom meetings (with Guru Aithal, Shashi Ramaiah, Tanja Zabka, Sara Paciga, Estefania Callado, Nathalie Bofarull and past members) have greatly enriched my TransBioLine experience, sometimes with hard but very necessary learnings, but mostly through the abundance of patience, kindness, attempts to understand my rambling or outbursts, ignoring my constantly interrupting, and the general displays of comradery. I have felt abundantly supported on my learning journey. Thank you!

    Also all the jokes about my long emails (from Warren Glaab, mostly).

What will you keep in your memories on TransBioLine?
  • So many things! The insights I have gained across Pharma drug development processes, data management processes, biobanking, regulatory, clinical and pre-clinical studies (academia vs industry), accounting (I hated these learnings the most), how-NOT-to-write-emails, etc will serve me well, well beyond this consortium.

    What I will likely remember the longest is what TransBioLine partners have taught me along the way, whether during email, virtual, or in-person interactions. It has been a joy to interact with and learn from so many excellent minds across multiple sectors and specialities. I have certainly learned for life from the whole TransBioLine team.