And on we go with our OPEN team introduction series – with Mandy Wäldchen. She will tell us about her struggle with beta cells and about more prosperous events in her life.
my name is Mandy Wäldchen. I was born in Berlin but grew up in a rural area close to Lutherstadt Wittenberg. Having always been fascinated by the beauty of nature and interested in understanding the underlying mechanisms of life, I studied Biology (B.Sc.) at Leipzig University and subsequently continued my Master’s studies in Biochemistry with focus Biomedicine (M.Sc.).
During my studies, I performed a Research Traineeship at Stockholm University and fell in love with Scandinavia.
Because of my interest in diabetes research I worked with pancreatic alpha and beta-cells for my Master’s thesis. Unfortunately, experiments didn’t go well, since my beta-cell cultures always died during the experiments (because they had already been contaminated in the stock – as we found out… later). Accepting that I obviously have bad karma with beta-cells (my personal beta-cells died, too), I switched to a more technological approach in diabetes therapy and worked as a technical consultant for insulin pumps, glucose sensors and sensor-augmented pump therapy at Medtronic.
A further education in Life Science Management provided me with insights into the Life Science Industry sector of pharmaceutical and medical technology companies; more specifically the conduct of clinical studies and the required regulatory pathways of drug and medical device approval.
Currently, I am a researcher in the OPEN project, mainly affiliated with work package 1 that aims to investigate the clinical outcomes of DIY-Artificial Pancreas Systems (DIYAPS). Here, I found the perfect fit for my interests in diabetes research and a project that indeed has a positive impact on everyday’s life of people with diabetes.
But what I enjoy most about being part of OPEN is the enthusiastic team driven by the common intrinsic motivation to improve lives of people with diabetes. Furthermore, I appreciate the interdisciplinarity of the team allowing different perspectives and a holistic view on living with this complex disease.
Above all, I am really impressed by the DIYAPS technology and movement proving what can be achieved when such engaged people collaborate in a community in order to ease the burden of living with their disease, support their beloved ones and offer peer support. Thus, I feel honored and grateful for being part of this movement.
Personally, I love nature, books, coffee, good company, music, dancing and running (without any emphasis on the order and preferably in various combinations 😊).
During my semester in Sweden, a roommate took me to my first folk session in a very mysigt (cozy) club in Gamla Stan where I fell in love with Scandinavian folk music. Back to Leipzig, I stumbled into the Balfolk community which combines folk sessions with dancing to a potpourri of dances from all over the world (particularly from France, but more broadly also from Scandinavia, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Israel – just to name a few).
Besides discovering the musical culture and rhythms of the world by Balfolk dancing, I love to travel different countries and get to know various cultures and landscapes of this beautiful planet.
Additionally, I am a passionate runner. For me, running is a good source of endorphins and helps to keep my blood sugars in range. I started with half marathons in Leipzig and Stockholm, then I continued with running several marathons in Leipzig and Berlin.
However, the most special one was the marathon taking place on my 30th birthday in the city of my birth, Berlin (kairos-like magic timing 😊). It was a great experience to pass through Brandenburg Gate after 42km – where there had been a wall at the time of my birth in Berlin and which fortunately isn’t there anymore. So, please do not build walls again and be OPEN-minded 😊
Thank you, Mandy, for your interesting bio and your inspiring words! We are happy that those dying beta cells never got you down and that, instead, we have you with us!