Community member on the spot: Dušan Popov-Čeleketić
19 June 2020
In the ‘Community member on the spot’ column, we take a dive into the career, challenges and professional passion of one of our community members active in the medical devices sector. Today, Dušan Popov-Čeleketić, is ‘on the spot’. Dušan is currently waiting for his first day at Nikon Instruments Inc. as European Product Manager for super resolution microscopy.
What is your professional background?
After the undergraduate studies at the Faculty of Chemistry in Belgrade, I received my PhD in biology at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, in 2007. Most of my work on protein interactions in biochemistry and cell biology was based on bands on a gel, yet I wanted to visualise subcellular events more directly. Therefore, in 2010, I continued my work in the Netherlands, using microscopy as the main tool. At the University of Groningen, I identified the membrane association signal of yeast plasma membrane polytopic proteins using laser scanning confocal microscopy and super resolution (SR) microscopy technique PALM. I moved to the Utrecht University where I obtained the expertise of two other main SR techniques, STORM and STED. In 2017, after 15 years of academic research, I started life science and microscopy consulting company, Visuals Consulting.
You have founded your own company; can you tell more about the service your company provides?
Since 2017, Visuals Consulting has been providing short- and long-term consulting services to researchers, institutes, private sector and governmental bodies. The former services have been focused on the delivery of results for specific scientific projects in various fields of biology, medicine, protein chemistry and microscopy. The latter have been oriented on life science management and strategic projects for the developments of the infrastructure, including modern lab and microscopy facility organisation. Since I have been recruited to Nikon Instruments, I have pivoted. Currently, Visuals Consulting assists in strategic development of microbreweries, including facility setup, development of new yeast strains, organisation and maintenance, risk assessment, business analyses, etc.
What is the biggest reason you have founded Visual Consulting?
SR microscopy comprises a set of impressive techniques allowing us to see structures and events on a smaller scale than conventional optical techniques, at the same time providing the liberty in the treatment of the sample that is not present in the electron microscopy. Irrespective of that, super-resolution is perceived as a niche, with the limited number of applications. Visuals Consulting was the product of the idea that combining a more eclectic approach with technology transfer would provide scientists in less developed countries the access to advanced optical microscopy techniques. This way a larger body of researchers would use these techniques on a more diverse set of problems and model systems, which would in turn lead to the development of new applications for SR microscopy and increase our knowledge.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career?
Throughout my entire career a change was the only constant. Moving from country to country, from biochemistry and cell biology to biophysics and optical microscopy, from bacteria and yeast to cancer cell lines, and, finally, transitioning from the academic to the commercial environment were all trials of will and perseverance in their own way. Now I am facing a new life exam, from independent consultant with my own company to Nikon Instruments, a giant in microscopy and medical device industry. Conceptually accepting change as the true opportunity for professional and personal growth has been the challenge I have had to overcome with every new transition.
What is the project that you are the most proud of in your career?
While working at the Utrecht University, I worked in a team developing a technique set to connect SR microscopy and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). Many days, nights and weekends were spent until we established reproducible conditions in which multiple fluorophores in close vicinity exhibited a self-quenched lifetime that is significantly lower as compared to a single fluorophore. This led to the development of the Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging (FLIM) technique in combination with STED (STED-FLIM), based on fluorescence self-quenching.
What are your future goals?
Through QTC Recruitment, I have recently been recruited to Nikon Instruments Inc. as European Product Manager for super resolution microscopy. This is a great opportunity for me to apply my academic and business expertise in bringing SR microscopy to the widest possible scientific auditorium thereby pushing the global scientific progress.
We want to thank Dušan Popov-Čeleketić for his time and insights in his career path. We wish Dušan all the best and we cannot wait to see what successes lie ahead of you. Are you interested in sharing your career story with the medical devices community? Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read our other blogs & interviews here.