Speakers

Meet the speakers of the Falling Walls Lab Czech Republic 2021

20222021
speaker

Pedro Zeni

project
Breaking the Wall of Protein Paradigm to Understand Diseases
problem
B Cell Receptor (BCR) pathway dysregulation is believed to be the major driving force for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). However, no recurrent mutations were found related to this pathway. 
solution

Our idea is to look at what they call the "dark matter of the human genome" - the long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). It is unclear if the largest class of ncRNAs plays a role in the BCR activation.

bio

I am a Biomedical Researcher fascinated by science and its applications in human health. Although it is incredible what the biomedical field has been doing, I have seen diseases like cancer taking patients' lives while we were unable to provide solutions due to the limited knowledge available. Hence, understanding cancer on its molecular level and presenting new strategies to fight against this illness has become my career mission. I am currently a PhD Student at the Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC) seeking to explore the new field of long non-coding RNAs that has enormous potential to reveal cancer mysteries.

speaker

Barbora Burýšková

project
Breaking the Wall of Metabolic burden limits in biotechnology
problem
Genetically engineered microbes are used to manufacture substances like insulin, bioplastics, and many more. Yet a single cell can only bear so many additional genes, limiting our possibilities.
solution

By dividing the workload between multiple cells, we can utilise a broader set of genes (tools) to expand the possibilities of what can be produced in a lab without exploiting natural resources.

bio

During my university education in biology at Charles University in Prague (and a few stays abroad) I peeked into multiple fields of study. The interconnectedness of all life sciences only consolidated my eagerness to learn about our world from all the different angles, and that includes actually experiencing nature on your own skin. Exposing myself to the surrounding wonders makes my mind stay happy and curious.

Currently, I am doing a PhD at the Microbial Bioengineering Laboratory at Masaryk University, where we engineer microbes to assist in advanced biotechnological applications. I hope that one day, biomanufacturing could replace fossil fuel-based production practices and help shift our economy to a full circle.

speaker

Amel Durakovic

project
Breaking the Wall of the Dark Matter Paradigm
problem
In standard cosmology, dark matter dominates  ordinary matter 5:1, but its existence is  inferred only indirectly through its gravity. Could  gravity be different instead, needing no dark matter?
solution

A new law of gravitation is needed.  Using the wrong law of gravitation, on galactic and extra-galactic scales, where it should not apply, leads to the appearance, or illusion, of dark matter.

bio

I am interested in fundamental problems of physical cosmology. I am a postdoctoral researcher in cosmology at the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences (FZU). I work on the problem of dark matter, in particular, on alternatives to it.

With my colleagues at the institute, I aim to establish that what is interpreted as dark matter may instead be due to a new law of gravity, needing no dark matter at all.

I have a PhD in physics from the University of Copenhagen, and an MSc in physics from Imperial College London. I was born in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but I have spent most of my life in Denmark. I have been in the Czech Republic for two years now, and I like it very much here.

speaker

Kelsea Grace Jones

project
Breaking the Wall of Sustainable Rare-earth Materials
problem
Rare earth metals are an essential part of modern technology. Recycling them is necessary for a sustainable future, but it is currently inefficient and expensive compared to mining new raw materials.
solution

A simple, efficient, green method for separating the rare earths is needed to make their recycling from electronic waste a viable, attractive alternative to environmentally-hazardous mining processes.

bio

I am an inorganic chemistry PhD student at Charles University, working in the coordination chemistry group with Dr Miloslav Polasek at IOCB Prague. I completed my BS and MSc degrees in chemistry at Rochester Institute of Technology in the US, and moved to Prague in 2019 for my doctoral studies. Our group here is focused on the coordination chemistry of the lanthanide (rare-earth) elements, and practical applications of our research—such as recycling these elements, which are essential for so much modern technology. Environmental sustainability and green chemistry have always been of interest to me, so it was exciting to find that my academic interest in lanthanide chemistry and my personal interests in nature and sustainability could intersect in this way.

I've also picked up some other technologies, such as 3D printing and microcontroller programming, and am incorporating those into my chemistry research: creating custom components, and automating processes. I enjoy the interdisciplinary aspects of my research, and look forward to the possibilities that such technologies provide.

speaker

Lukáš Kamenský

project
Breaking the Wall of the Targeted Drug Delivery
problem
Nowadays, the majority of medicines is  administered to the whole body system. That causes a lot of side effects, and a must of a higher dose for being sufficient.
solution

It may be feasible to concentrate the entire drug dose in a particular spot when it's the only treatment target.

bio

I'm a student at UCT Prague pursuing an MSc in Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering with a high interest in pharmaceutics. Firstly, I've experienced them theoretically by studying Drug Synthesis and Production program (from which I graduated with honors) and from the perspective of organic synthesis, thanks to my Bachelor thesis. A few days ago, I returned from my internship at Janssen, Belgium, where I gained an insight into the solid state domain. To complete the picture, my current research aims at the drug carriers branch, which is something I see great potential in.

When I'm not around the lab, I lead the volunteering student association at UCT devoted to increasing the study success rate. Regularly, I take part in miscellaneous events popularizing chemistry and UCT. Although I enjoy presenting my work at various conferences, getting inspired by others' ideas is something I am keen on even more.

Photo: Anna Ničová

speaker

Stanislava Králová

project
Breaking the Wall of Antibiotic Resistance Crisis
problem
I want to address the antibiotic discovery void as one of the major reasons for the global antibiotic resistance crisis that has already led to a significant rise of human deaths caused by superbugs.
solution

I intend to find novel antibiotics by designing mini-microbial communities where bacteria behave as in nature and compete by production of yet unknown molecules which can be used to kill superbugs.

bio

My interests in microbiology had started at high school and reflected into choosing Microbiology as my major during bachelor studies at the Masaryk University in Brno. Since Master´s Degree I have been trained as a microbial taxonomist with major focus on identification of water-borne pathogens. After finishing my Master´s Degree with honours, I decided to take advantage of the Antarctic base built by the Masaryk University at the James Ross Island and I have dived into study of polar bacteria. Along the way, I was lucky to attend Antarctic expedition myself, accomplish several internships abroad (Austria, Belgium, USA) and to meet great external mentors that widen up my research interests.  

Ultimately, years of studying Antarctic microorganisms, their capabilities of survival in hostile conditions and competition mechanisms brough me to more applied research – study of bacterial secondary metabolites. I am currently conducting research on these metabolites as a Maria Curie Sklodowska fellow at the Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science, University of Vienna, Austria. Current goal of my research may sound simple – “let´s find novel antimicrobial compounds” – but it´s quite clear that this search is by no means easy. However, without new antibiotics with effect on multidrug and extensively drug resistant bacteria we may easily lose this war. Therefore, my greatest hope is, that I can also contribute with my research to the global effort of fighting multidrug resistant pathogens. 

speaker

Jakub Martinka

project
Breaking the Wall of Excited States Dynamics
problem
The interaction of light and matter is a dynamic process and quantum mechanics must be used to study time evolution. Computational complexity limits theoretical approaches only to small molecules.
solution

Machine learning could speed up time-consuming calculations and enable the study of larger systems at longer intervals.

bio

As a lover of science I moved from Zlín to Prague to obtain a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry at Charles University, where I worked on molecular simulations of human proteins. I was very excited about this topic and therefore, I changed my field of study to physical chemistry, with a focus on computer modelling of molecules. At the same time, I also started working at the J. Heyrovský Institute of Physical Chemistry in the Department of Theoretical Chemistry. In this department, I started working on my master's thesis, which is focused on the connection of machine learning techniques and computer simulations of excited states. I find this topic extremely interesting, and also thanks to the excellent cooperation with foreign colleagues, I decided to continue with my PhD study at the same institute.

During my studies, I attended a workshop organized by the University of Buffalo, NY dedicated to the dynamics of excited states, as well as a workshop at the Swiss EPFL dealing with machine learning techniques. I try to share my enthusiasm for science in every possible way, for example by tutoring students from primary and high schools. I would also like to collaborate on the projects of popularization of science in cooperation with our institute. I like meeting new people and talking about different topics and of course also about science.

speaker

Vít Musil

project
Breaking the wall of sports conditioning and rehabilitation
problem
Physical therapists may enhance athletes' performance and reduce patients' musculoskeletal pain. The process is expensive and time-consuming. For this reason, it is crucial to use effective tools.
solution

The tool is meant to be a dynamic stress vest. A system of tubes filled with liquid is arranged to involve core muscles during habitual activity or exercises guided by certified physical therapists. The invention of such equipment could be ground-breaking among athletes and patients of various diagnoses. The physical adaptation is not only muscular, but benefits may also occur in motor control.

bio

Vít Musil is terminating physiotherapy studies and had the chance to experience various international stays. Based on multiple backgrounds, he has a desire to implement knowledge and thus affect people around the globe. Within his visionary idea, he was already acknowledged as a businessman of Palacký University.

speaker

Jan Nekvinda

project
Breaking the wall of antibiotic resistance
problem
Misuse of antibiotics accelerates the development of pathogen resistance. This can lead to trivial infections turning lethal. And it’s not just us humans who are in danger; farm animals, our food supply, are also at risk! Indeed, this problem ranks amongst the top 4 priorities of the WHO and anyone, anywhere, anytime can be affected.
solution

My solution involves thinking outside of the “carbon box”; this means using inorganic boron clusters rather than common organic molecules to build new antibiotics. Boron clusters can mimic such molecules, keeping desired bioavailability and pharmacokinetic profiles, and yet bringing various novel physicochemical properties that make them harder to process for bacteria, thereby mitigating their resistance.

bio

I obtained a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at Charles University in Prague (2018) while working at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences. During my studies, I visited Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany (2016 and 2017), and the Institute of Medical Biology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Lodz, Poland (2016) for short internships. After completing my studies, I moved to Blacksburg, Virginia where I spent two years as a postdoc at Virginia Tech.

The thrust of my career so far is in organic synthesis, inorganic boron clusters, and medicinal chemistry. I am trying to combine these areas into a platform on which to build my own research group back at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry. My main goal is to develop effective antibiotic drugs based on boron clusters against which bacteria would not be able to develop resistance.

I was awarded the Programme to Support Prospective Human Resources by the Czech Academy of Sciences. As a member of the Institute council and Working group on equality between women and men, I am trying to improve our workplace, bringing fresh ideas to the table and being a good mentor to students.

speaker

Kristýna Skoupá

project
Breaking the Wall of Abuse of Steroid Hormones
problem
Illegal application of hormones, which cannot be effectively detected, occurs in food, especially in meat. Consumption has an impact on human health - infertility, liver and heart damage, cancer.
solution

We are developing a new sensitive method for the detection of growth hormones, which can detect even new and less concentrated substances, based on changes in biological material and tissue structure.

bio

I've wanted to be a scientist since I was little...just like Jack Hodgins of the Bones series. I am now a PhD student in Molecular Biology, Genetics and Animal Physiology at Mendel University in Brno on the Department of Animal Morfology, Physiology and Genetics. I deal mainly with histology and immunohistochemistry and the issue of changes in the organism after the application of anabolic substances and with my research I became the winner of the "PhD Talent Mendelu 2022". During my studies I took part in internships in Banat University in Romania and clinics in Mexico and the USA. I have a passion for travel, food, photography and my scout group of girls I lead.

speaker

Karolína Smolková

project
Breaking the Wall of Melanoma Resistance to Treatment
problem
Seemingly successful treatment of malignant melanoma ends by acquired resistance to therapy, and the disease is back. There clearly is a hunger for a new treatment, but drug discovery is not easy.
solution

We have developed a unique cell-based reporter system for the high-throughput identification of novel inhibitors targeting a protein complex that was reported as a nexus of drug resistance.

bio

I am a Ph.D. student focusing on cellular signaling pathways in melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. I have completed my BSc. and MSc. in molecular biology and genetics at the Faculty of Science at Masaryk University in Brno. During both degrees, I spent a couple of months at foreign universities (in Bergen during my BSc., then in Rome). While studying MSc. in medical genetics, I developed a strong interest in cancer cell biology, and that is why I am currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program "Biomedical Sciences" at Masaryk University.

My dissertation project aims to identify and characterize new small-molecule compounds with anti-melanoma activity, which may help overcome the resistance to drugs currently used for malignant melanoma treatment.

speaker

Zuzana Střížová

project
Breaking the Wall of Limited Imunotherapy Indications
problem
Cancer immunotherapy is not applied in individuals with low intratumoral infiltration of immune cells. The initial screening of the tumor microenvironment may not reflect the potential indications.
solution

The tumor microenvironment should be screened for the immune cells in different time and space. The immune infiltrates are relevant before and after chemotherapy, inside and outside  of the tumor.

bio

Zuzana Strizova, M.D., Ph.D. is a clinical immunologist and a principal investigator at the Department of Immunology, Second Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and University Hospital Motol. Her early research was focused on the development of novel therapeutic protocols for adoptive cell immunotherapy of human malignancies. After undergoing various scientific trainings and internships (FOCIS Advanced Course in Basic and Clinical Immunology, Arizona, USA; Infection meets Immunity, Utrecht Uni, NL; Internship at KU Leuven, BE), she has joined the Chemokine Research Group at Glasgow University as a postdoctoral researcher to develop a high-level understanding of chemokines, molecules responsible for migration of immune cells. Currently, Zuzana Strizova studies the immune cell infiltrates within the tumor microenvironment to define factors that drive the sensitivity and resistance to therapy in patients diagnosed with esophageal carcinoma and soft tissue sarcomas. Dr. Strizova shared her research at different scientific conferences both as an invited speaker and as a poster presenter (PIVAC 2018; ECI 2018; FOCIS 2017; ESMO WCGC 2019). In 2020 and 2021, Zuzana Strizova has won Vlasta Adamova Award for outstanding scientific contributions to the field of oncology and in 2022, she was awarded with Loreal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award. In her free time, Zuzana is a passionate mountain hiker, painter, and a cynologist with a wide experience with Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Catahoula leopard dogs.

Photo: Lenka Seničová

speaker

Jana Szabová

project
Breaking the Wall of Treatment by Inhalation
problem
Translocation of the drug delivery system into the bloodstream depends on the particle size – large drug delivery systems such as liposomes has a low possibility of systematic absorption.
solution

The increasing the possibility of systematic absorption by opening the tight junction in the alveoli due to suitable polycations bound on the surface of the drug delivery system.

bio

Jana graduated from the Faculty of Chemistry of the Brno University of Technology (BUT) in 2019 with honor and obtained the Dean’s award for Outstanding Results during Studies. She also took third place in the inter-faculties competition (8 of BUT) with her bachelor’s thesis. 

Currently, she is a PhD student of Physical Chemistry at BUT and her research area lies in the drug delivery system for inhalation administration. She has been the main solver of two inter-faculty projects (with the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering) in 2021 and 2022 focusing on liposomes and their efficiency in lung transport. At the beginning of the year 2022, she was on an internship at the Université de Paris (Laboratory Matière et Systèmes Complexes) where she studied the interaction between lung surfactants and polycations by different approaches. Jana likes communication and sharing her love for science with younger colleagues so she enjoys teaching, helping with consultations and leading students working on their final thesis, and being a popularizer of science.

speaker

František Zelenák

project
Breaking the Wall of Graphene industrial scale production
problem
Main bottle-neck of graphene based materials utilization is in cheap, fast, scalable and environmentally friendly production that is currently non-existent.
solution

The solution is a use of electrical plasma source device developed at our university called DIffuse Coplanar Surface Barrier Discharge that posses many advantages compared to the state of art methods.

bio

Graduated from analytical chemistry at Masaryk University in 2020. Currently enrolled as PhD. student in plasma physics where I do research on carbon-based materials. I mainly focus on development of industrially scalable manufacturing technologies and applications in green technologies that can revolutionize industries across the spectrum and bring us closer to sustainable circular economy-based industry.

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Aleš Vlk

Aleš Vlk obtained his master degree in sociology at the Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Arts, and his doctoral degree at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. After working at the European University Association in Brussels, CzechInvest, and the Ministry of Education, he has enjoyed for almost two decades his role as a lecturer, facilitator and moderator as well as a teacher at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Charles University. In 2016 relaunched the portal Věda a výzkum.cz focusing on science policy and research, development and innovation.

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