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

‘We can apply our scientific discoveries in improving human health, which is incredibly rewarding.’

Dr. Elena Kypri is NIPD Genetics Head of clinical services. She oversees all the laboratory operations and activities related to the provision of services, such as sample processing, analysis and reporting. Dr. Kypri supervises a team of over 20 laboratory scientists in the NIPD Genetics lab.

How did you decide to go into science?

I discovered that I liked science during early childhood education. I always enjoyed finding answers to scientific questions and enjoyed science projects. Also critical in this decision was the support from my teachers and family who encouraged me and taught me key life lessons such critical reasoning and persistence.

How did you decide on the specific field of science?

I got interested in the field of prenatal diagnostics because it is a field that enabled me to transfer my knowledge from basic biology to the development of techniques and tools that address important medical needs.

What surprising lessons have you learned along the way that changed the way you used to think?

When first getting into science, I thought that I can maintain this passion in problem solving, creating and implementing only in the laboratory setting. Experience in my current position enabled me to realize that in fact, this is an inter-professional field where you need to interact with people in different disciplines, diversify, be very flexible and constantly push yourself beyond your comfort zone to learn and grow professionally.

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

Science is a fascinating field which entails hard work and dedication. In this field you must be open-minded, very patient and focused. I believe it is very important to go as far as you can with education and diversify your experience in order to recognize your true skills and strengths.

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

I believe that the biggest challenges for women in science is to balance work-life and parenting. The best ways to overcome these obstacles is to create support structures within the family and have access to support facilities and structure flexibility in in the work environment.

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?

Reflecting on my own experience, I have had the opportunity to interact with many talented and well qualified women. However, I do think that there are still examples where there is lack of female role models gender stereotyping, and less family-friendly flexibility that prohibit young women in selecting a profession in science. I believe that in the years to come science will be more accessible to young girls through exposure, resource availability, mentorship and recognition of women’s contributions and impact on society.

Aspects of my field I find the most interesting:

The most interesting part of our field is that we can apply our scientific discoveries in improving human health, which is incredibly rewarding.

Qualities indispensable for a scientist:

Scientists need to be very detail oriented, very patient, creative and exhibit critical-thinking.

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

There is a huge number of scientific breakthroughs that I consider very interesting and it is difficult to pick a specific one. Generally, I am always fascinated by the field of microbiology and discoveries related to that, such as antibiotic and vaccine development. This interest probably stems from my extensive education and training in Microbiology and Immunology.

Dr. Elena Kypri received her BSc degree in Clinical Laboratory Science from the University of Arizona, and her PhD degree in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology from the University of Texas. Dr. Kypri has underwent specialization and post-doctoral training from the Department of Biological Sciences at University of Cyprus, and the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in Crete. She has received numerous awards and fellowships, published several peer-reviewed articles, and presented her work at various national and international scientific conferences. Dr. Kypri has been with NIPD Genetics since the company was founded in 2011.