Welcome to our Alumni Spotlight, where we take a look at our richly diverse alumni community and focus in on the life and work of individual members. We welcome your suggestions for alumni to feature in future.

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Cristiana Banila matriculated in 2013 and studied Biochemistry, during her time at St John's she participated in the Oxford Princeton Exchange programme and went on to read for a Masters at Princeton focusing on oncoviruses. During her time at Oxford, Cristiana was part of the Latin Dancing Society and the Communications Liaison Officer, facilitating communication between students and the Department of Biochemistry. Additionally, throughout her time in College Cristiana secured summer research internships in Portugal and France.

Cristiana went on to earn her PhD from Queen Mary University of London, specialising in molecular diagnostic development. She focused on developing a self-sampling molecular test for early cancer detection, which is currently being trialed by the NHS.

Cristiana transitioned into business, bringing genomics-led innovation to market after meeting Shakiba Kaveh (PhD, University of Cambridge), who shared an interest in the power of epigenetics in early cancer detection and predicting ageing. From this meeting of minds, Mitra Bio was born - combining Shakiba's experience in the skincare industry and Cristiana's knowledge of diagnostic development they realised they could build a tool for skincare companies to develop efficient anti-ageing products.

Mitra Bio was formed just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and initially Cristiana struggled to find lab space and reagents, as well as a global shortage of other lab equipment such as pipette tips. Since then, Cristiana has gone on to speak to five of the largest skincare companies about supporting her technology.