Eleni Antoniadou

A Mind Without Borders

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Co-founder of Transplants Without Donors, Antoniadou builds artificial organs and nerves. By the way, that’s when she’s not working with astronauts at NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory.

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Eleni Antoniadou was born in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1988. She developed an interest in space at a young age, later fueled by high school aerospace clubs and piloting classes.

Following her graduation from the University of Central Greece — where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 2009 — she enrolled at University College London (UCL) to acquire a Master’s degree in Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine. With a passion for ground-breaking technologies, she worked on creating artificial organs from stem cells as an alternative therapeutic pathway for transplantations.

While at UCL, she collaborated with a professor on the development of a tissue-engineered trachea, which was soon implanted into a 36-year-old patient suffering from late stage tracheal cancer. Their work represents the first successful artificial organ transplant in the history of medicine.

During her time in London, she co-founded Transplants Without Donors, which continues her work of developing tissue-engineered organs, reducing our reliance on human donations. Part of the company’s aim is to also eradicate human organ trafficking. As an advocate for putting an end to this illegal activity, Antoniadou has voluntarily led medical missions to Peru, Costa Rica, and Uganda to provide free pharmaceuticals and to perform surgical procedures on children patients, and other victims.

In 2010, she enrolled with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to earn her Master’s degree in Bioengineering.

Antoniadou’s childhood interest in space, however, has never faded. In 2012, soon after beginning her PhD at the University of Illinois, she was selected to join the NASA Academy to research the effects of changes in atmospheric pressure on the nervous systems of astronauts.

In 2015, she was also elected as the President of the European Health Parliament. Despite this heavy workload, Antoniadou still finds time for her other interests: soccer, volleyball, running, swimming, taekwondo, and skydiving.

Among numerous other accolades, Eleni was voted the UK Woman of the Year in 2013, BBC’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2014, Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for health in 2015, and Woman of the Year in Science for Greece in 2017.

In 2019, to honour the sixtieth anniversary of International Women’s Day, Mattel turned Antoniadou into the first Greek Barbie for inspiring young girls and being an upstanding role model.

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