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Jelena Bojović, Director Of The Centre For The Fourth Industrial Revolution; NALED Programme Development Strategist

You’re A Lawyer? No, I’m A Molecular Biologist

When I enrolled at the Faculty of Biology in 1995, in the Molecular Biology and Physiology course, my dad, who was very concerned but still had great trust in my judgement, asked: ‘What can you do with that? Perhaps it’s actually better to be a doctor?’ And my answer was that molecular biology gave me a chance to change the world, to make revolutionary discoveries, and that I also prefer working in a laboratory and that I feel safer and better there, sheltered from people. That’s how it all began…

Towards the end of my studies, I saw a job posting at the Faculty by an American organisation, the International Republican Institute (IRI), looking for a person to work a few hours a month in a business accounting software called Quicken (!!?). Not to get into the course of life events that lent me the experience with this program, it’s these skills exactly that helped me get the first real job. I spent the next six years at IRI dealing with democratic change through cooperation with the Otpor organisation, followed by working on public policies aiming to ensure planning and leadership in driving country’s development by the political parties, mayors and central Government.

This work led me to master the algorithms of management, rule of law, regulation, change and reforms. In 2005, I started working for USAID funded projects and since 2010 I’ve been with NALED – Serbia’s top ranking association steering business environment and economic growth of the country by gathering its citizens, business and local govenrment around the organization’s mission. I spearheaded multiple complex reforms on behalf of NALED, such as construction permitting, seasonal workforce, lump sum taxation, property registration, introduction of incentives for business start-ups, parafiscal charges, and many more.

Although I was repeatedly asked “how come you’re not a lawyer?” by people in disbelief that a non-lawyer dares deal with legislation, work on reforms to me was so kindred to molecular biology and genetics – it is like LEGOs fitting together, similar to base pairs in DNA, that need to be properly combined to get the desired characteristics, the laws, processes and regulation, need to be properly designed to tailor the government that is responsive to the needs of its citizens and businesses

Although I was repeatedly asked “how come you’re not a lawyer?” by people in disbelief that a non-lawyer dares deal with legislation, work on reforms to me was so kindred to molecular biology and genetics – it is like LEGOs fitting together, similar to base pairs in DNA, that need to be properly combined to get the desired characteristics, the laws, processes and regulation, need to be properly designed to tailor the government that is responsive to the needs of its citizens and businesses.

Even though genetics kept luring me back, I persisted in the regulatory arena because I find the working environment and the changes we create particularly motivating. My colleagues working at NALED are superbly intelligent and hardworking, with great people qualities and confidence that things can improve as long as it’s us working on it, to ensure the change will happen.

Over the past years, NALED has increasingly engaged in reforms of the healthcare system. And again my LEGOs joined spontaneously. The World Economic Forum and the Government of Serbia established the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as a part of the global network of similar centers established in 16 countries around the world. Each centre develops its own area of expertise – ours has the aim to facilitate synergy of informatics with healthcare and biology, to enable the development of biotechnology and bioengineering. Alongside my continuing work with NALED, a few months ago I agreed to run the Centre, in an effort to marry my degree in molecular biology with the 20 years of unparalled experience with reforms and legislation. The target is to create a favourable legal framework for the launch of the national Gene Bank in Serbia, along with cell therapy and early diagnosis aided by artificial intelligence. Our task is to engage the local brain power and our genes to foster the development of bioengineering and biotechnology.

Another revolution is in the making, and I’m so delighted to be a part of it.

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