NAD Fellow year: 2023

Birna Asbjörnsdóttir

MD, University of Copenhagen

Lab rotations - pre-PhD year

Lab Rotation 1

Neurogenetics Clinic & Research Lab, Danish Dementia Research Centre w/PI Jørgen Erik Nielsen

Lab Rotation 2

Danish Multiple Sclerosis Center, Copenhagen University Hospital Glostrup w/PI Professor Finn Sellebjerg

At the Danish Multiple Sclerosis Center, Multiple sclerosis and other immune-mediated diseases are studied by using biomarker studies and gene expression assays; genetic and epigenetic studies and T/B cell activation assays. During her rotation, Birna will gain hands-on experience with lumbar puncture and cerebrospinal fluid analysis, flow cytometry and biomarker studies.

Lab Rotation 3

Department of Epilepsy Genetics and Personalized Medicine,IRS – The Epilepsy Hospital Filadelfia w/PI Professor Rikke Steensbjerre Møller

Meet Birna Asbjörnsdóttir

Birna Ásbjörnsdóttir obtained her MD from the University of Copenhagen in 2019. Since completing her degree, she has worked as a medical doctor in a variety of neurological departments, most recently at the Memory Clinic at the Danish Dementia Research Centre. Birna’s interest in neuroscience was sparked during her bachelor’s studies, and she did her bachelor’s thesis on REM sleep disturbances in Parkinson’s patients and her master’s thesis on opticus neuritis in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Birna is interested in neurology, especially neurodegenerative diseases and genetics. She plans on becoming a neurologist – ideally in a position with equal opportunities for doing clinical work and research:

“Neurology is a very research-heavy specialisation, and I consider it part of a doctor’s plight to stay up-to-date about new methods and treatments. It is very important to have a strong basic research foundation. (…) Ultimately, I think that makes you a better doctor.”

As a researcher, Birna is driven by the hope of making a difference for patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases and their next-of-kin. In the research process, she especially enjoys the opportunities for creativity and invention that research brings.

When asked what motivates her about joining the NAD programme, Birna highlights the structure of the programme with the preparatory pre-PhD year and the collaborative aspect:

“I hope that the NAD programme opens up for more and better collaboration between clinicians and basic researchers. (…) Sometimes, we speak slightly different languages – and yet not.”