Joining the Balistreri Lab’s Research Team

23 June 2021

Written by Zelah, Year 7

I have been fascinated by neuroscience and neuropsychology since the age of five; it was largely this fascination which led me to choose OHS for my secondary education. Thanks to the opportunities the school has already given me since my arrival in Year 7 last September, I am already following my passion in a real and applied way.


After reading an article I had written on neurosurgical treatments of psychiatric disorders for a STEM competition, Dr Balistreri (Helsinki University/Queensland Brain Institute) made contact and offered me a one off lecture on viruses and their effects on the brain. I was incredibly pleased and with my basic background knowledge this soon became two, then three more lectures until a few weeks later I found myself sitting in E4 on a rainy Friday with a working lunch on a zoom call to Helsinki University, being introduced as the newest member of the Balistreri Lab’s research team.


We are currently investigating the possibilities of treating COVID-19, such as introducing a nasal spray – Dr Balistreri and the team are particularly interested in this theory given the extreme role of the olfactory system in relation to the virus. Friday’s meeting focused mainly on Dr Jussi Hepojoki and his research regarding coronavirus with the University of Helsinki. When we meet again after the Summer break, I have been asked to give a presentation to the rest of the team regarding my discussions with Dr Balistreri on the role of neuropilin-1 and the clefts of SARS-CoV-2 when entering ACE-2. We will then continue mentorship and interaction with the team.


I am absolutely honoured to be a part of this groundbreaking research and hope that I will be able to update you all in the treatment and testing situation over the coming months. Watch this space…

NB: Special thanks to Miss Berry for her ongoing support (and organisational skills regarding location of my salad!)

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