In celebration of
February 11, International Day of Women & Girls in Science


‘I was fascinated by the miracle of life. At the age of about 8, I asked for a toy microscope and since then I was fascinated.’

Dr. Voula Velissariou is NIPD Genetics genetic counselor. With over 30 years of experience in prenatal and postnatal genetic diagnostic services, Dr. Velissariou is a scientist with extensive training and international reputation.

How did you decide to go into science?

At the age of about 8, I asked for a toy microscope and since then I was fascinated. My mother encouraged me to study Biology.

How did you decide on the specific field of science?

I was fascinated by the miracle of life, how characteristics are inherited and/or acquired.

If a young girl, interested in science, walked up to you for advice, what would you tell her?

To believe in herself, not to be intimidated by difficulties during her path and to combine science with a good and fulfilling personal life.

What do you think are the biggest challenges for girls and women in science? What are the best ways to overcome these?

The biggest challenge is to be both a successful scientist and raise a family. Succeeding this is a very personal matter and I would not be able to advise anyone that I do not personally know!

What has changed the most since you became a scientist and how different do you think the role of women in the scientific world would be in 10 years?

The representation of women amongst scientists has increased immensely. Women scientists are given today far more opportunities because science has advanced and men have accepted that they can be just as good as themselves. In 10 years I believe things will be even better!

Aspects of my field I find the most interesting:

The speed of new knowledge and the integration of new technologies.

Qualities indispensable for a scientist:

Perseverance, Clarity of thinking, Morality

Surprising Lessons I have learned along the way:

Anything is possible if you really want it, and this applies to all aspects of life.

Scientific Discovery I would have liked to be a part of:

There are so many that I would have liked to be a part of, that I would need many pages to describe them!

Dr. Velissariou received her BSc degree in Biology from the University of Athens, and her PhD in Genetics from Cambridge University. She was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at Cambridge University and received specialization training in cytogenetic prenatal diagnosis methods in leading universities in Oxford and in London. Dr. Velissariou has held numerous leadership positions in her career in the field of Prenatal Genetic Diagnosis, and was a visiting assistant Professor in Medical Genetics in the University of Thessalia, Medical School. She has co-authored more than 35 scientific papers and  is a reviewer for several reputable journals in the field. Furthermore, she  is an assessor for the accreditation of Cytogenomics laboratories in Greece (ESYD).  Dr. Velissariou is a founder member of the Hellenic Association of Medical Geneticists (S.I.G.E.) and has served as a member of the board of S.I.G.E. and the Panhellenic Union of Biologists (PEV).  She is also the  elected representative of S.I.G.E. at ECA (Europrean Cytogeneticists Association). Currently, she is collaborating with NIPD Genetics as a Medical Genetics Consultant.