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A Journey to Understand What it Means to Be Alive

By Randolph Fillmore

Researcher’s lifelong quest to understand human diseases brings him to Johns Hopkins All Children’s

When Martin Trapecar, Ph.D., came to Johns Hopkins All Children’s in May of this year, his arrival opened new doors for him to continue pursuing a question intriguing him since his high school days in his native Slovenia – “What does it mean to be alive?” 

“That big question has always been my guiding light,” recalls the biomedical engineer, assistant professor and researcher in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. “I was always fascinated by – and in awe of – nature.  However, just understanding biological life in terms of molecules and genetic codes does not explain enough about what it means to be alive.”

Early in his academic career, he sought to answer the Big Question by investigating plant growth, microorganisms and how elements of nature come together to bestow the gift of life. This led to his investigation of the agricultural sciences by looking at the complex of plants, weather, soil and the wellbeing of animals. He knew he had to be creative in finding answers and look at life from a variety of angles to see how nature composed a “symphony” of life. 

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Still Searching for Answers

After earning his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Maribor in 2014, Trapecar set off on a journey that would eventually bring him to the United States, first as a postdoctoral fellow at the Gladstone Institutes of Virology and Immunology at the University of California San Francisco, then to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he served as a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Biological Engineering. 

Read more:  Read the full story by Randy Fillmore

 

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