Andreas Androutsellis-Theotokis

Biography

I was born in Athens, Greece, at a time when progressive rock music still got radio play. After finishing high school, I studied Biochemistry and Neurochemistry at Imperial College, University of London, obtaining my BSc and PhD degrees.

Following my studies, I completed my National Service duties in the Greek Army. Having experienced severe research withdrawal symptoms, I moved to the USA to resume professional science work, first at Yale University and then at the National Institutes of Health. Afterwards, I started my own research lab in Dresden, Germany. In parallel, I became Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham, in the UK, just in time for Brexit…

My research focuses on novel molecular mechanisms that allow us to manipulate resident stem cells and other types of cell, in different organs. The work of my team relates to neurodegenerative disease, neurological disorders, cancer, and diabetes.

Currently, much of my thinking concerns how to best bring all of our work to the clinic and how to make sure I see it provide benefit to the patient. There are plenty of avenues, and none is simple.

When I don’t obsess with science or write mystery stories, there is a good chance I may be composing music (often in odd time signatures) and playing the drums. I also like photography and I seem to have a knack at enticing cats to pose for me.

Smashwords Interview

When did you first start writing?
The day I realized that an idea had stuck into my mind so deeply that I would not be able to shake it off unless I thoroughly investigated it was the day I decided to write things down.

I am an Academic scientist, and I have been conducting research on stem cell biology in the context of neuro-regeneration, cancer, and diabetes. It was refreshing to see my mind drift away from the real world of science and apply my acquired skills in a medium that was not limited by the tangible. That is why I started writing late - my knowledge and views on the natural world had to develop enough before tackling their more philosophical connotations.
What's the story behind your latest book?
We read a lot about how the way we perceive the world is not the way it really works. The focus of such science is on Physics: Time passes differently on the surface of Earth than on the space station; particles can interact with each other even when separated by vast distances. This is fascinating to me as it improves my awareness of the world around me; it is as important as cars having mirrors.

But what about Biology? Is Biology more mundane? Is there no room for Philosophy in Biology? I pose a few questions. We identify people by their DNA sequence but DNA is nowhere near able to define our identity. And how does our brain (and the thoughts it produces) define us, even when we go through experiences where we lose control of our cognition? These are recurring themes in the story, and important layers in it.

But the story is also very much about communication. How frustrating is it that we love and admire creatures to which we can hardly express anything to. We see them through fences and glass walls and talk about them but not to them. We can love a house cat as much as a family member and we only wish we could know more about them but we can't.

The story is centered on a massive Biology experiment that involved filling up a gigantic hole at the center of a Greek island with sea water and following the development and evolution of life in it. New traits developed, new abilities to process the world, think, and communicate. A hapless cat inadvertently finds herself from downtown Athens onto this mysterious (and long-abandoned) experiment site and tries to survive by herself until a multi-national group of scientists come to investigate.

The cat, Nannion, shares so much with the island denizens: She is curious, just like the scientists, a survivor, just like many of the creatures living in the abandoned hole, and she needs to work out some form of communication, just like all of them, to avoid doom.

I like to sprinkle some hard science facts throughout as real life biology has come up with such incredibly fascinating tricks to give creatures survival advantages that are worth sharing. Action and mystery are always fun and come naturally in a setting like this. The point of the story is to ponder beyond what we know, as scientists, and so you can call much of the story a philosophical action-adventure SciFi mystery.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Andreas Androutsellis-Theotokis online


Books

This member has not published any books.