Jovana Drinjakovic

Jovana Drinjakovic is a science writer with a background in cell and developmental biology. After completing her PhD in Cambridge (the old one) and a postdoc at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Jovana decided to switch gears and enrolled into a journalism course at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. Her writing appeared in the Globe and Mail, the National Post, Dallas Morning News and U of T Magazine. Most days Jovana writes about discoveries at U of T’s Donnelly Centre, where she works as a communication specialist.

Posts by: Jovana


Home is where the gut is

Author: Jovana Drinjakovic, 09/27/17

The potential of lab-grown mini organs goes beyond learning how to manufacture replacement body parts to undo disease; it could allow researchers to glimpse, for the first time, the swaths of microorganisms that live inside us and shape our health. A deeply entrenched belief that microbes are universally bad is shifting as a result of…Read more

Immune to cancer, long-lived and really ugly

Author: Jovana Drinjakovic, 06/27/17

They could well be the ugliest animals on the planet, but naked mole rats don’t get cancer or suffer decrepitude from old age. No wonder scientists are working hard to unlock the secrets of these bizarre-looking creatures that could teach us how to stave off disease and repair brains. With large protruding teeth, squinting useless…Read more

Guardian of the genome goes rogue in cultured stem cells

Author: Jovana Drinjakovic, 05/10/17

Last month, a study published in Nature revealed that researchers have unknowingly been working on human stem cell lines that harbour mutations in a gene linked to many cancers, raising safety concerns over their use in therapy. But the findings don’t condemn stem cell treatment to an early grave. Instead, they raise an awareness of…Read more

If your body isn’t healing, your partner’s genes might be to blame

Author: Jovana Drinjakovic, 02/22/17

Choosing the right partner in life can help overcome its many pitfalls and challenges. But what if that partner could also influence your health in totally unexpected ways—what if their genes, and not only yours, are at play? This, at least, seems to be the case in mice where the health of one mouse is…Read more

Can we use animals as living incubators for human tissue?

Author: Jovana Drinjakovic, 01/16/17

Markus Grompe certainly thinks so and is working hard to make it happen. A scientist and a pediatrician specializing in inborn liver diseases, Dr. Grompe has a plan for overcoming the shortage of organ donors—the key obstacle for patients for whom the liver transplant is the only hope. Based at the Oregon Health and Science…Read more

Can we defy aging?

Author: Jovana Drinjakovic, 11/14/16

Last month, a paper published in Nature grabbed headlines by claiming that human lifespan is capped at 115 years. As disappointing as the news may be to anyone wanting to live forever, I’m okay with this shelf life, so long as I can be an energetic, pain-free supercentenarian. Still, despite tangible progress in medicine that…Read more

Would you buy a designer bag made from lab-grown human skin?

Author: Jovana Drinjakovic, 10/06/16

In case you haven’t heard, Tina Gorjanc, a UK-based fashion designer, shocked the fashion world this summer when she announced her Pure Human collection of luxury leather items, to be made from lab-grown human skin, engineered with the late designer Alexander McQueen’s DNA. I know, it makes your brain twist in on itself! As you…Read more

The story of the first bone marrow transplant

Author: Jovana Drinjakovic, 09/15/16

It was a failed transplant that saved his life. In 1958, Radojko Maksic became the first person to receive a bone marrow graft from a stranger, after he was accidentally exposed to a lethal dose of radiation in Belgrade, in what was then Yugoslavia. He still lives in Belgrade, almost 60 years after the procedure….Read more

The stem cell therapy’s obstacle course

Author: Jovana Drinjakovic, 08/25/16

Science fiction became real life in September 2014, when a team of eye surgeons in Japan transplanted a body part, grown entirely in a dish, into the eye of a patient suffering from an eye disease. The retinal graft came from the patient’s skin cells, raising hopes that one day our own bodies could be…Read more

Ugly duckling spreads its wings

Author: Jovana Drinjakovic, 06/13/16

  When Dr. Andras Nagy, a Senior Scientist at Sinai Health System’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute in Toronto, set out to catalogue molecular events behind reprogramming — a process of making stem cells in a dish ­— he did not expect to uncover a new kind of stem cell. But not everyone was enchanted, and Nagy…Read more