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PI seminars help students to find the best research group

Every Friday throughout the semester the campus hosts seminars to break down barriers between laboratories and scientists and students.

Masaryk University Campus in Brno-Bohunice.

The main objective of the Principal Investigator (PI) Seminars is to interconnect all research groups, and in particular, their students. The PI Seminars are organised at CEITEC Masaryk University every Friday at 1 p.m., and the participants learn about the projects in which the scientists from CEITEC, the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Science, and FNUSA-ICRC are working.

The seminars are organised throughout the entire semester, and the speaker with the best presentation will win a prize for 1,000 EUR. Stjepan Uldrijan from the Institute of Biology at the Faculty of Medicine, MU won the prize for his lecture given during the autumn 2018 semester. Stjepan and his team examine the relationship between cell metabolism and the signalling path that is responsible for the division of tumorous malignant melanoma cells, one of the most aggressive type of skin tumours.

“We have found out that the tumorous cell reacts to a change of its energy metabolism in an unexpected way. It is just the influencing of metabolism, which might be regarded as one of the possible tumour-curing therapies, since the metabolism of tumorous cells is different than the metabolism of healthy cells. However, we have found that the expected effect might not occur, and instead of tumour removal, the change of metabolism might lead to the survival of tumorous cells,” said Stjepan.

He visited the series of PI seminars regularly. He would appreciate more participants, especially students, attending the seminars. He adds: “Such activities are useful, not only for the existing members of the research groups, but also for students. Thanks to them, everyone can see the work topics of their colleagues. The thing is that we are often isolated in our labs and focused solely on our own scope of work, and it is not easy to keep track of what is happening on Campus.”

Students, in particular, can learn a lot about the given research, and through this knowledge, they can find particular lab work in which they are truly interested. Stjepan said, “They can obtain deeper knowledge about the research; it is better than just a title of the research or one sentence written in a brochure. The presentation of results has positively influenced the students who became interested in our lab.”

The lecturers are nominated by the PI Seminar Committee, or the Research Group Leaders/Core Facility Heads can enrol by themselves. The presentations are assessed by the Committee, which puts emphasis on comprehensibility and interesting topics. Mary O´Connell, who is a member of the Committee, said, ”The main idea behind the PI seminar is to build synergy. The quality of scientific research is incredibly high here at Masaryk University. Therefore, it is mainly the abilities to present and communicate research results that determine who will be the winner. Attending PI seminars is extremely beneficial for PIs, postdocs, as well as students, because one can learn not only what research is taking place in other labs in Brno, but also how to communicate research.”

The best presentation is awarded during the first lecture of the following semester of the series. New PI Seminars start on Friday September 20th. The first lecture will be given by Tomasz Nodzynski from the Developmental and Cell Biology of Plants Group, CEITEC MU. Awarding of the best lectures is possible thanks to the support of BioVendor.