Real Life Research Experience: Meet Amgen Scholars Alumni Agata Misiaszek
Host University: Karolinska Institute
Home University: The University of Edinburgh
Amgen Scholar Year: 2017
Major: Molecular biology
Expected Graduation: May 2018
Journey to Science
How did you become interested in science?
Ever since I can remember, I was curious about how the world works and the causes and implications of different processes. Life’s extremely complex network of molecules and reactions that made me want to contribute to its understanding, especially because it has a constant impact on us. I find the ability to understand and possibly modify the entire network by interacting with a single component on molecular level incredibly fascinating. The application of research in disease treatment and improvement of overall life quality makes me realize the importance of the area and drives me to invest even more into my studies.
Academic and Professional Ambitions
What’s the larger significance of your Amgen Scholars research? What’s your ultimate career goal?
This summer I was working on the binding region domain of the pneumococcal serine rich repeat protein (PsrP) - a virulence factor of the Streptoccocus pneumoniae. The binding region domain is capable of binding to keratin and extracellular DNA and is what allows S. pneumoniae to form biofilms and colonize sterile lung sites leading to a multitude of diseases such as pneumonia, septicaemia and meningitis. Inhibiting these interactions is of pharmacological interest, as it would reduce the bacterium’s capability to cause disease. Two affibodies, which are new generation biological drugs, were developed to target the binding regions domain. I focused on their biophysical characterization and found that one of the affibodies is a promising starting point for further research and possibly eventually pharmacological use.
I am interested in continuing to work on the drug development process. I hope to work within the area of the structural and functional target characterization and finding its potential inhibitors. Working at the interface of the academia and industry seems the most appealing to me, as it allows for both the basic curiosity-driven research and its application.
Why did you apply to the Amgen Scholars Program?
Amgen Scholars Program gives a unique opportunity to experience the real-life research integrated in the environment of a research group. It was really important to me to have a place where I could apply in practice all of the theory I learned and gain useful research skills. Additionally, the chance to gain experience in one of the leading research institutions was very appealing, as I knew I could gain a lot of soft skills and understand how a different study system works by being immersed in it.
What aspects of the program did you enjoy most? What do you love about the Amgen Scholars Program?
The real life research experience the Amgen Scholars Program offers is a wonderful introduction to future careers. The chance to engage in meaningful research and mentoring by top-class scientists made this summer program an essential experience. Through the short period of time I spent in the lab setting, I loved how I got to gain valuable practical skills, learn about data analysis, and, most importantly, got assured that this is the career path I want to pursue. Being integrated into the university allowed me to meet great mentors and fellow scholars with whom I could share my experiences. The Amgen Scholars Program gave me the opportunity to grow, both personally and in terms of my research abilities.
To learn more about the Amgen Scholars Program, please visit AmgenScholars.com and check out the #AmgenScholars hashtag on Twitter. Follow @AmgenFoundation to stay up to date with all STEM-related news from the Amgen Foundation.