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Globetrotter puts down roots at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry

Dr. Katja Klein, Postdoctoral associate

Katja Klein, postdoctoral associate, is an experienced world traveler thanks to her love of research. Originally from Salzburg, Austria, she worked at labs in the United Kingdom and the United States before coming to Canada and Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.

“It’s exciting to see new laboratories and meet people who see things differently, who have different views,” Klein said. “It has helped me develop as a researcher.”

Klein is a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, part of the Eric Arts’ research group. She arrived at the School in early August.

Her research focuses on the transmission fitness of the HIV virus. Her current project tests modifications to the envelope glycosylations of the virus and the role they play in the ability of the virus to penetrate through mucosal tissue and establish infection.

“The goal is to understand and evaluate the features of the virus which could control transmission,” she explained. “And then use this information to be able to model new and more effective vaccination strategies.”

This project is an important piece within the multidisciplinary field of HIV/AIDS research. “I think it’s very important to understand the biology of the virus and the mechanisms of the virus, and how it is transmitted in the early stages,” Klein said. “If we can intervene early, we can prevent the infection.”

Klein received her diplomatic engineer degree at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. She then pursued her master’s degree in medical diagnostics at Cranfield University, UK, and completed her PhD in immunology from St. George's University of London, UK, in 2012. 

“You ask a question and, as a scientist, you have the tools to answer the question. But in pursuit of the answer, you end up with more questions,” she explained. “It keeps things constantly exciting, that’s what I love.”

A passion for skiing and tennis have also followed her around the globe. She is currently settling into the London community, but is looking forward to joining a tennis club in the near future.

Her career goal is to become an independent scientist with her own research group. And she has her sights set on Schulich Medicine & Dentistry as the place to finally put down her roots.