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Virginia Savova

Distinguished Scientist and Lab Head, Sanofi

The confluence of science and technology is one of the areas that healthcare is making significant leaps. The ability to use computer-processing power to test drugs and analyze samples to identify illnesses has the power to revolutionize healthcare.

Harvard-trained Virginia Savova is one of the people bringing those two worlds together. For Sanofi, where she’s a distinguished scientist, Bulgarian-born Savova works in the immunology group. “We study diseases like type-1 diabetes, lupus, atopic dermatitis, and asthma,” she has said.

Savova works using a technique called single-cell transcriptomics, analysing at a high resolution which cell types participate in the immune response to illnesses brought into the body. The sheer volume and form in which the data gathered through single-cell transcriptomics is produced requires computational analysis to decipher.

“Before we could look at single cells, all we could look at was how the tissue behaves,” she says. “We could look at the blood of the patient and distinguish how the blood of the patient is different from the healthy individual.”

But not all cell types are made the same: Savova’s technique can pinpoint changes on a much more precise level, helping develop drugs to improve the body’s response.