Soft- and biological-physics Early-Career Researcher meeting

We are organizing a one day in-person meeting for early-career researchers (ECRs, PhD students and postdocs) working on soft-matter and biological physics/chemistry in our institute. The agenda of this meeting is ECR-driven and based on a survey done among the ECRs from different groups in our institute at the end of 2022.

The objectives of the meeting are

  • the ECRs get to know each other and see if they have any shared interests,
  • get a broader view of career development options by listening to PIs/CEOs who followed different career paths.

If you are interested in participating, please register using this link by the end of January.

Venue: Main Lecture Theatre (“Aula”), admin building no. 9, IChF Kasprzaka 44/52, 01-224 Warszawa

Schedule (to be updated):

9:00-11:00 short talks by ECRs

11:00-11:30 coffee break

11:30-13:00 more short talks by ECRs

13:00-14:00 lunch (pizza, soft drinks)

14:00-16:00 invited Zoom career talks by PIs and CEOs + discussion. Already confirmed: Rosalind Allen (Jena), Achillefs Kapanidis (Oxford). More names TBA.

16:00-17:00 speed-dating session (one-to-one meetings, 3-5 min each)

A simple model of cancer cell response to chemotherapy

Remember what Pragyesh found regarding the response of glioblastoma cells to chemotherapy with temozolomide (TMZ)? Here is it again (see the picture on the left): cells respond to the drug with a delay. Now, thanks to the computer simulation (middle- and right-hand pictures) developed by Saumil Shah (a visitor from Ploen) we can model this process mathematically.

The model has been inspired by a mathematical model of multi-stage cell cycle and an agent-based model. We have added treatment-driven death and calibrated the model against our data. In the model, cancer cells go through different cell cycle stages and are affected by the drug during only a specific stage in the cell cycle. This makes the model more biologically realistic than the simple birth-and-death process used to model the evolution of resistance to chemtherapy, which is what we ultimately want to do.

This research has been supported by the POLS programme, funded through Norway Grants.

Dioscuri – MPI Evolutinary Biology meeting

Last week we spent a very intense 5 days visiting our collaborators in Ploen in the north of Germany. Amanda Azevedo and Michael Raatz – local organizers who coincidentally also spent some time at the Dioscuri Centre – put up together a very nice programme of scientific talks, discussion sessions, and a few social events.

This was the first time most of our group travelled together to a meeting, because we started the Dioscuri Centre in the midst of COVID-19.

We came back to Warsaw full of news ideas about possible joint projects.

Photo credits: Michael Hesse.

Only one day until our group trip to Ploen

This Sunday the whole Dioscuri Centre is going to Ploen (north of Germany) to participate in a research workshop (5-9 September). This is the first time since the opening of our centre that we can physically visit our collaborators at MPI Evolutionary Biology. We have already had a few guests from Ploen (Amanda, Michael) and we are now reciprocating. Hopefully, we will bring in only good vibes and not the universally-dreaded infectious disease!

Apart from talks by our group members and the local researchers, we will also have a scientific speed-dating session and dedicated slots for one-to-one and group discussions.

Many thanks to Amanda Azevedo and Michael Raatz (local researchers) as well as Ursula Kruetzfeld and Maren Lehmann for organizing the workshop.

Here are some details of the meeting.

Response of cancer cells to chemotherapy

Pragyesh did a clonogenic assay to assess change in the number of colonies formed by different cell lines in response to various doses of temozolomide (TMZ) treatment.

The graph above shows the change in the number of the colonies formed as compared to the DMSO-treated cells. We further treated cells with various doses of TMZ and assessed the change in their number over time using live-cell microscopy. To achieve this, Ilyas has developed an algorithm to quantify the number of cells. Though this algorithm is still a “work in progress”, it works quite well and shows that cells do not respond to the drug immediately after its application:

Rather, a significant delay is observed for all concentrations of the drug. Interestingly, this is very similar to what we observed for bacteria treated with antibiotics. This is just another example of interesting parallels between the growth of bacterial populations and cancer which we want to explore further.

This research has been supported by the POLS programme, funded through Norway Grants.

“What do you do in your job”

A few weeks ago we recorded a video featuring my daughter and some of the Dioscuri scientists. Julia (8 years old) interviews us about our work. I think everyone will agree that she is the star of this short video! Many thanks to everyone who participated in the production process (Magda, Asia, Pragyesh, Ilyas, Dominik)

Goodbye Amanda!

Last week we said farewell to Amanda, our long-term visitor from Ploen. We will all miss Amanda – both due to her scientific contributions as well as her culinary skills! However, we will continue to collaborate with Amanda and we hope to see her again very soon (in Ploen in September, then again in Warsaw some time next year).

@ Magda Ziolkowska

Visit at the MPG headquarters in Munich

This week all Dioscuri Centre leaders were invited to Munich to visit the Max Planck Society headquarters. The programme of the visit was packed with events, but we found a moment to have a joint photo with the President of the MPG, Professor Martin Stratmann. Professor Stratmann was instrumental in creating the Dioscuri Programme. Our visit coincided with the 5-year anniversary of the programme, which explains the cake in the photo below!

The night at the Opera

Some of us decided to go to the opera to see The Magic Flute. It was a rather extraordinary performace, with actors playing in front of a white screen on which animated decoration would be displayed. I cannot share any images from the performace (recording was forbidden) but I can share a photo of us standing in the lobby of the opera house.

OPUS22 grant for the Dioscuri Centre

I am delighted to say that our Dioscuri Centre has been awarded an NCN grant (call OPUS22) to study the transition from genetic to phenotypic antibiotic resistance in bacterial mutants. The image below conveys the main idea.

Many thanks to Elin Lilia, Aleksandra Sadlocha, and Witold Postek who performed experiments to generate preliminary data to support the proposal. Well done guys!

We will soon have some openings for post-docs, so stay tuned!