Marianna Tryfonidou

Curing animals has always been my ultimate dream

"At the age of seven, I already knew that I wanted to become a veterinarian. I have always been concerned with animal welfare. I grew up in Greece and I used to drive my mother crazy with all the poor cats and dogs that I took home to take care of. More than once, we had to cope with fungal infections at home, because I accommodated all these animals in our house. 

More and more translational
Treating and curing animals has always been my ultimate dream. However, shortly after graduation I realised that I wanted to deepen my knowledge as a veterinarian. Therefore, I successfully pursued a series of challenges and focused on research within the field of orthopedics. I got fascinated by the comparative and translational aspects of research: did you know that also pets suffer from back pain and arthritis as humans do?

Repairing backs
We study tissue regeneration to treat back and joint pain. For this purpose we develop, in close collaboration with industry and partners from the medical field, new therapies for our veterinary patients. On the long term these therapies can be translated to human patients. We use a combination of strategies to repair the diseased tissue: stem cells, drugs alone or in combination with biomaterials that achieve sustained release of the drug locally. We can now offer veterinary patients a relatively simple treatment that delays or prevents an operation, saves expenses and improves the animal's life.

Valuable link
Veterinarians can be a valuable link between researchers in veterinary medicine, human medicine and the industry. In general, it is often still don't realised what veterinary medicine could contribute to human medicine research and vice versa. We have learned to think from the perspectives of different animal species, not just that of mice and rats.

Focusing on research
As a researcher, I have followed an uncommon route. After graduating as a veterinarian in Greece, I moved to the Netherlands and did a one-year internship in Utrecht, followed by a PhD and a four-year training to become a board-certified veterinary surgeon for companion animals. I want to excel and make a difference within veterinary medicine and that's only possible by focusing. After having worked as a specialist for a few years, I focused on research. My journey has been relatively long, but if I had to start all over again, I would do precisely the same.

Greek soul
My mother is Dutch and my father is Greek. I am a Dutch person with a Greek soul. I really like the Dutch way of living, but I have to charge my Greek soul from time to time by listening to Greek music, drinking retsina and eating Greek food. It is all about restoring balance, in life and in regenerative medicine."