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#TraineeTuesday: David Andrijevic, MD

October 11, 2022
by Kayla Yup

From the Lab to the Limelight - Blog version of our #TraineeTuesday Twitter series

Meet David Andrijevic, MD, an associate research scientist in the Sestan lab! Andrijevic’s work reviving cell function in deceased pigs made national headlines, including recognition by National Geographic as one of the most amazing discoveries of 2022. Let’s explore his research journey and where he hopes it takes him.

Published in Nature, Andrijevic’s latest work restored circulation and certain cellular functions in pigs who had died an hour earlier. The deceased pigs received OrganEx, a system that pumps a mixture of blood and special fluid that contains anti-inflammatory medications, nutrients and drugs meant to prevent cell death and promote cell health.

“All cells do not die immediately, there is a more protracted series of events,” Andrijevic said. “It is a process in which you can intervene, stop, and restore some cellular function.”

Cutting off blood flow to vital organs, such as when the heart stops beating, does not have to mean the immediate end to all cells. These findings highlight the “previously unappreciated” ability for large mammals to partially recover after a long period without blood flow, explained Andrijevic. The hope is that OrganEx could one day expand the supply of organs available for transplant.

Through this project, he realized that science did not have to be restricted to the lab bench — it could happen in the operating room. An aspiring transplant surgeon, Andrijevic’s vision for his future is two-pronged: provide clinical care and drive research innovations to improve the lives of others.

Andrijevic graduated medical school in Croatia in 2018. He recalled pursuing research opportunities around the world as a medical student. During one research trip to Canada, he took the opportunity to visit Yale as a tourist.

“I immediately fell in love with the old campus and outstanding research opportunities it offers,” Andrijevic said. “At that moment I knew I would come back one day.”

Though Yale’s historic campus caught his eye first, the highlight of Andrijevic’s experience has ultimately been the people. Having world experts nearby and open to collaboration made it easier to solve various scientific questions, he explained. For example, to evaluate the OrganEx technology for this paper, Andrijevic met with and exchanged ideas with many “incredible people around Yale.”

Andrijevic emphasized that having great surroundings and support from colleagues makes hardships disappear and challenges easier to overcome — no matter how challenging a situation may be.

“Being a part of this incredible environment has shaped my career goals and made me

determined to dedicate my life to working at the intersection of surgery and science,” Andrijevic said.

Update 3/17/2023: He’s on his way to becoming a transplant surgeon! On Mar. 17, Andrijevic matched to New York University’s general surgery residency program.

Submitted by Pauline Charbogne on March 22, 2023