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JU biotechnologist awarded in Mozart competition

JU biotechnologist awarded in Mozart competition

The National Science Centre published the third ranking list in the bilateral competition for Polish Austrian Research Grants “Mozart”, run in collaboration with the Austrian Science Fund (Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung - FWF). The grant was awarded to Dr Krzysztof Szade from the JU Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology (JU FBBB).

 

Funds in the Mozart competition may be obtained to cover remuneration for the research team, scholarships for students or PhD candidates, the purchase or manufacturing of research equipment and for other costs crucial to the research project. The budget of the entire project is 5.5 million zlotys. Polish researchers can apply for the funding of research projects jointly with Austrian research teams. The principal investigator at the Polish research team must hold at least a doctoral degree. The planned research must be carried out within 24 months or 36 months. The proposals will be evaluated according to the FWF rules.

Dr Krzysztof Szade from the JU FBBB Department of Medical Biotechnology will receive almost 1.6 million zlotys for his project Identifying the Niches of Hematopoietic and Leukaemic Stem Cells. The objective is to explore and describe the bone marrow niches of hematopoietic and leukaemic stem cells, which will allow potential new treatment targets against leukaemic stem cells to be identified.

„To precisely characterize the niches of hematopoietic and leukemic stem cells we propose a system, in which upon contact with niche cells, the stem cells will induce expression of fluorescent marker in the niche cells. The fluorescent marker will allow to sort out the niche cells that contacted the investigated stem cells and to further analyse their gene expression. After the identification of genes involved in the interaction with the niche, we will attempt to inactivate these genes and see whether we have altered their adhesion to the niche. The studies will be performed in vitro, using primary cultures of mesenchymal stromal cells, as well as in vivo using mouse models. Altogether, the project proposes a new system for the detection of cell-cell interactions to identify the niches of hematopoietic and leukemic stem cells”, the project description reads.

Dr Krzysztof Szade graduated in Biotechnology from the JU FBBB Department of Medical Biotechnology, where he obtained a PhD degree in 2016. Then he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Prof. Irving Weissman group at Stanford University. After returning to Poland he has continued his career a the Jagiellonian University. His research interests have been focused on the biology of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC).

“My research is aimed at the understanding of the heterogeneity of hematopoietic stem cells and learning the mechanisms of their aging. I would also like to learn how HSCs contribute to the development of leukaemia. The study also concerns the mechanisms of HSCs’ interactions with their microenvironment in the bone marrow. During my research I have identified a fraction of HSCs which expands when the body ages and is characterised by abnormal differentiation. I have also pointed out how the micro-environment of bone marrow prevents HSCs from premature aging”, explains Dr Szade.

The researcher is the co-author of papers published in such journals as PNAS, EMBO Reports, or Nature and the co-author of an international patent on the new method of hematopoietic stem cells mobilisation method. The results of his research have been presented at numerous international conferences, including the ISSCR and the EMBL. He has led several research projects and currently is the manager of two grants from the Foundation for Polish Science.

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