Institute for Regeneration and Repair

International Women's Day 2024

For International Women's Day, we are profiling six women from across IRR.

Katie Mylonas
Dr Katie Mylonas

Dr Katie Mylonas, Kidney Research UK (KRUK) Senior Research Fellow (with the Thompson Family Charitable Trust) and Group Leader 

Some cells in the human body become ‘senescent’ as a person ages or with disease and these cells produce harmful secretions that cause scarring and prevent organ repair. Katie is investigating these cells as therapeutic targets in disease i.e. does getting rid of them improve outcomes especially in the kidney and heart. 

Katie said, “I have always loved science and working in STEM, but being a woman in this field is not without its pitfalls. A recent study published in Nature (2022) highlights that women are still under credited and that our work is often underappreciated or even ignored. I can't believe that it is 2024 and this is still a problem!  Outside of work, I enjoy watching films with my partner Peter and our cat Ruby, running and travelling. I am half Irish and half Greek so go to visit friends and family outside the UK as often as I can.” 

Aida Rodrigo Albors
Aida Rodrigo Albors

Dr Aida Rodrigo Albors, Group Leader  Aida is a Chancellor's Fellow and Group Leader at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine.  

She works across species to find out why some animals can regenerate the spinal cord, but others cannot. My longer-term goal is to use these insights to enhance spinal cord repair in humans.  

On joining the Centre in 2023, Aida said:   “I am absolutely thrilled to join the Centre for Regenerative Medicine as a Chancellor’s Fellow. The CRM fosters a highly collaborative and innovative environment and has long been at the forefront of stem cell and regenerative medicine research. I eagerly look forward to contributing to the cutting-edge research while working closely with colleagues at CRM and the wider University of Edinburgh. This is such a wonderful opportunity to make a significant impact in the field of regenerative medicine.” 

When not in the lab, Aida is likely to be hiking up a hill or running a race. 

Katie Jebb
Katie Jebb

Katie Jebb, IRR Receptionist 

Katie first starting as a BioQuarter receptionist early in 2022 and after a short period was successful in securing a permanent receptionist position with IRR. Katie is part of the IRR Reception team and is primarily based in IRR North. The reception team are the first port of call for visitors, staff and students as they enter the building. They oversee, parking, meeting room bookings, catering deliveries and much more. Katie joined the Institute in 2022 and particularly likes interacting with people who are from different countries/cultures that are part of and visit the Institute. 

Katie said, “I like interacting with people who are from different countries and cultures. Outside of work I like spending time with family, as well as watching rugby with my Dad either at Murrayfield or on the Television.” 

Shonna Johnston
Shonna Johnston

Shonna Johnston, Technology & Services Director

Shonna is IRR Technology & Services Director with a remit is to oversee IRR buildings, labs and core technologies. She has a real interest in technology and equipment, knowing how it works and what equipment we need to advance our research.  She is also passionate about championing our technician’s development and promoting their skills within the Institute and the University.   

Shonna said, “I am fortunate enough to work with exceptionally knowledgeable and capable colleagues making our new institute an inspiring place to be.

Scientific research is a dynamic work environment making it such an exciting place to be. I am constantly motivated by learning new things and reacting to challenges that come my way, adapting the focus of the technical teams to ensure we are supporting our researchers. It can be difficult to know which pathways or opportunities to take but take those that interest you the most. In the end all personal development is positive as that what makes you, you.

Outside work I spend a lot of my weekends at the side of hockey fields or muddy rugby pitches watching my children’s sports.  When I do get time at home to relax, I love painting and drawing, and am currently getting to grips with a new set of pastels.    I also enjoy gardening, cooking and going out, especially for an afternoon tea.” 

Marianne Watters and Varsha Jain
Dr Marianne Watters and Dr Varsha Jain

Dr Varsha Jain, Research Fellow 

Dr Varsha Jain is a Wellbeing of Women Clinical Research Fellow at the Centre for Reproductive Health (within IRR) at the University of Edinburgh, investigating why women suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding.  She is a practicing clinician specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology and also has an accomplished science portfolio, including her work as a “space gynaecologist”.  Varsha was always fascinated by the impact space has on human health and was one of the first academic doctors to focus on researching women's health in relation to space. 

Varsha said:  "It is a real honour to be a woman of colour, working in clinical research helping to advance the field of menstruation related research. Heavy periods affect up to 50% of the female population, so it is a real honour to have the opportunity to be able to change the current status quo.   Outside of work I love to spend time with my family and travel so I can learn about new cultures and places. I also love to read a good book."

Dr Marianne Watters, Clinical Research Fellow 

Marianne is a Wellbeing of Women Clinical Research Fellow and an Obstetrics and Gynaecology clinician.

Marianne researches differences in menstrual fluid from women with heavy and normal menstrual blood loss. This is a crucial first step towards development of tests to confirm heavy periods and identify underlying structural causes.   

Marianne said: “Without the support of other women in science, I would not be in my current role as a clinical research fellow. I am very thankful to those who continue to be fantastic role models and mentors.  When not at work I love getting out for a run or heading up North for some munro bagging!”