19 January 2022 – Nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA and RNA, are crucial for cell growth. Blocking their synthesis has been used as a cancer treatment for decades. But cells can not only make nucleotides internally, they can also get them from outside. New EMBO Installation Grantee Katerina Rohlenova studies how this back door could be closed. She investigates metabolic interactions and differences between cancer and healthy cells and hopes her results can help to develop more effective and less toxic treatments. Rohlenova, a native Czech, is a junior group leader at the Institute of Biotechnology (IBT) of the Czech Academy of Sciences. She returned to IBT, where she carried out her PhD research, at the end of 2020, finding excellent facilities, but facing the challenge of starting a group amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Collaboration is hugely important for Rohlenova’s research and she highlights the value of working with clinician scientists. As a postdoctoral researcher in a large laboratory in Belgium she had already built a network of contacts now spread across Europe, and plans to develop it further. “The EMBO Installation Grant really gives me the opportunity to be involved with the community,” she explains. “The networking is what I appreciate most: having people who do great science around you and access to discussions.” She says that funding schemes that are only open to applicants from certain countries can encourage more people to apply.