Velina S. Atanasova, PhD

Velina Atanasova is a senior scientist in the LBI:AD's Molecular Pathology program line involved in identifying novel biomarkers in colorectal cancer.

Velina obtained her PhD degree from Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia PA, School of Biomedical Sciences. Her graduate studies focused on therapeutic approaches for the genetic skin disease Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), where she worked with primary patient keratinocytes and fibroblasts, organotypic 3D assays and various mouse models. During her studies, Velina evaluated the possibility to repurpose FDA drugs for treatment of EB and identified a novel pharmacologic target for EB treatment.

Upon completion of her PhD, Velina was awarded a Foundation Rene Tourane Fellowship and moved to Freiburg Medical Center, Department of Dermatology to evaluate the efficacy of amlexanox in primary cells from EB patients. Shortly after, she joined the LBI:AD to study the cross-talk between tumor and stroma in colorectal cancer.

Velina's current work is using colorectal cancer organoids and matched patient fibroblasts from primary and metastatic patient samples to evaluate molecular signals which reprogram the surrounding stroma towards a tumor supportive phenotype. Her project is focused on identifying novel biomarkers in the stromal compartment, which can be targeted during anti-cancer treatment with the ultimate goal to improve efficacy and decrease side effects of current clinical regimens.