9 March 2023 – When EMBO Postdoctoral Fellow Marija Matejčić first visited the laboratory of Xavier Trepat at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia in Barcelona, she was impressed by its level of interdisciplinarity. Biologists worked hand in hand with engineers, physicists and optics experts. Matejčić decided to join the group, and she doesn’t regret it. “With so many different perspectives, this is a super-productive and creative environment,” she says. Living in Barcelona, she adds, is the cherry on the cake.
In the Trepat lab, Matejčić uses 2D gut organoids to investigate the cell mechanisms behind a process called ‘apical extrusion,’ where cells are removed from an epithelial layer by neighbouring cells. Scientists do not fully understand how extrusion happens in the intestine, although the process is at the core of gut turnover. Because too much or too little extrusion could result in intestinal disorders or cancer, Matejčić’s work may also help to understand what goes awry during disease.
The EMBO Training Courses – which include research integrity and leadership courses – offer scientists essential tools for leading their own research groups, Matejčić says. The EMBO Fellowship also provided Matejčić with a higher job security than she may have had in a country where public investment in research has been stagnating for years. Having the support of EMBO, she says, “makes you a better scientist ultimately, because you can just focus and enjoy doing science.”