The results of the fourth edition of the International Birnstiel Award for Doctoral Studies in Molecular Life Sciences have just been announced. One of the six winners of this year's edition is Marta Seczyńska, a graduate of the Jagiellonian University Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology. All winners will receive a certificate, a trophy and a prize of 2,000 euro at a ceremony in Vienna later this year.
'Mammalian genomes are under constant threat of invasion by viruses and transposons. Marta Seczyńska discovered that the epigenetic repressor HUSH has the remarkable ability to distinguish "self" genomic DNA from "non-self" genetic invaders through the recognition and silencing of intron-less DNA. Lack of introns is the essential hallmark of retroelements which replicate through an RNA-intermediate and are reverse transcribed from RNA to DNA prior to genome integration. By silencing intron-less DNA, HUSH controls this reverse flow of genetic information from RNA to DNA, making Seczyńska’s discovery of fundamental biological importance. Her findings reveal the existence of a unique genome defence pathway, provide a novel function for introns and have important implications for both genome evolution and therapeutic expression of recombinant DNAs', reads the official press release.
Marta Seczyńska has graduated from the Jagiellonian University Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology. In 2015, she successfully defended her MA thesis entitled Heme oxygenase-1 promotes activation of muscle progenitor cells leading to rhabdomyosarcoma, written under the supervision of Prof. Alicja Józkowicz. She continued her education at the University of Cambridge. In 2018, she received the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds fellowship. She will soon start her postgraduate studies at Stanford University.
The International Birnstiel Award for Doctoral Research in Molecular Life Sciences highlights outstanding talent in molecular life sciences and celebrates research successes of young, up-and-coming scientists. Established in 2019, it is awarded annually by the Max Birnstiel Foundation and the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP).