Meet Dr. Mariana Giasetti

Written by Dr. Angela Gonella (Diversity Committee Chair) in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month

The National Hispanic Heritage Month is annually celebrated from September 15 to October 15 in the United States to recognize the contributions and influence of Latinx to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Diversity Committee Chair Dr. Angela Gonella sat down with Dr. Mariana Giassetti from Colossal Bioscience.

Mariana earned her Veterinary degree from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazi. Her academic journey continued as she pursued a master’s degree in Reproductive Biology at the same institution. Building on her educational foundation, Mariana embarked on an international path that led her to earn a Ph.D. with a specialized focus in Animal Reproductive Biology at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Biomedical Sciences and Biotechnology at the University of Zaragoza, Spain. Following her academic pursuits, Mariana dedicated five years to furthering her research as a PostDoc at Washington State University, where she delved into the intricate domain of male reproductive biology, with a particular emphasis on spermatogenesis and male fertility. Today, Mariana holds the role of an Embryologist at Colossal Bioscience, a pioneering organization known as “The De-extinction Company.”

AG. What is your current position, and what does it entail?

MG. Today, in my current capacity as an Embryologist at Colossal Bioscience, I use Applied Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) associated with refined genome engineering tools to the endeavor of resurrecting extinct species, including the iconic Woolly Mammoth, while simultaneously championing the conservation and protection of our precious natural world.

AG. Can you talk a little bit about yourself? Where are you from? What first attracted you to the world of science? And how did you get to be in your current position?

MG.I grew up on a farm in Brazil, and from an early age, I was always surrounded by domesticated and rescued wild animals. I moved from my hometown to Sao Paulo in 2004 to study Veterinary Medicine, and my career in Reproductive Biology commenced during my second year as a Student at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, when Dr. Mario Binelli invited me to conduct some experiments on bovine maternal recognition of pregnancy at his lab. Throughout this 17-year journey, I have had the privilege of being guided and mentored by distinguished Principal Investigators across different corners of the globe. These mentors, hailing from Brazil (Dr. Mario Binelli, Dr. Jose Visintin, Dr. Mayra de Assumpcao, and Dr. Marcelo de Goissis), Spain (Dr. Jon Schoorlemmer and Dr. Pedro Muniesa), and the United States (Dr. Alan Ealy and Dr. Jon Oatley), have each played a pivotal role in shaping my journey. In their own unique ways, these exceptional mentors have instilled in me a deep sense of curiosity and a spirit of creativity. They have encouraged me to navigate the intricate landscape of Reproductive Biology, propelling me to amass knowledge across various domains. My path has been diverse and exhilarating, from unraveling the mysteries of maternal recognition of pregnancy to delving into ARTs and pioneering the generation of gene-edited non-model mammals to exploring their applications in creating novel molecular candidates for male contraceptives. My curiosity and multidisciplinary background led me to my current role as an Embryologist at Colossal Bioscience, aptly known as “The De-extinction Company.” Our overarching mission is nothing short of awe-inspiring: to breathe life back into extinct species, including the majestic Woolly Mammoth, all while zealously safeguarding and preserving the pristine wonders of our natural world using different and novel biotechnologies.

AG. What are your future career goals?

MG. My long-term career goals include:

  • Contributing to the field of Reproductive Biology by making discoveries that deepen our understanding of reproductive processes and ARTs.
  • Engaging with global challenges in Reproductive Biology and animal conservation.
  • Collaborating with experts worldwide.
  • Addressing evolutionary conserved reproductive issues in diverse contexts from Agtech to translational human medicine.

AG. Are there ways in which you think your heritage has affected your perspective or career trajectory?

MG. As a Brazilian, living and studying in different countries with diverse cultural backgrounds and academic environments broadened my perspective. This multicultural experience instilled in me a more global outlook, fostering adaptability and an appreciation for different approaches to research and problem-solving.

AG. What words of inspiration would you like to share with the future generation of scientists, especially those coming from diverse backgrounds?

MG. To the future generation of scientists, especially those emerging from diverse backgrounds, I offer these words of inspiration:

Embrace Your Uniqueness: Your diverse background is a strength, not a limitation. Embrace your unique perspective, experiences, and culture. These differences can spark innovation and new insights in the scientific world.

Break Barriers to Knowledge: There are no boundaries in pursuing knowledge. Science is a universal language, and your passion for discovery can transcend borders and stereotypes. Use your curiosity to break down barriers.

Persevere in the Face of Challenges: Scientific research can be challenging but remember that every obstacle is an opportunity to learn and grow. Your resilience will be an influential asset in your scientific journey.

Be a Trailblazer: Diverse backgrounds bring fresh perspectives. Don’t hesitate to challenge the status quo and blaze new trails in your field. Your innovative thinking can lead to groundbreaking discoveries.

Collaboration is Key: Science thrives on collaboration. Contact colleagues from different backgrounds; diverse teams often generate more creative solutions. Together, you can achieve more than you can alone.

Inspire Others: As you make your mark in the scientific community, inspire others who may be following in your footsteps. Your success can pave the way for future generations of diverse scientists.

Never Stop Learning: The pursuit of knowledge is a lifelong journey. Stay curious and open-minded. Science is ever-evolving, and your willingness to adapt and learn will keep you at the forefront of your field.

Make an Impact: Remember that your work can potentially improve lives and our world understanding. Use your scientific endeavors to make a positive impact on society.

Celebrate Achievements: Celebrate your achievements, both big and small. Acknowledge your progress and use it as motivation to continue pushing boundaries.

Stay Passionate: Lastly, always keep sight of your passion for science. Let your enthusiasm for discovery fuel your journey, and let it inspire those around you.

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