Dr. Piotr Szwedziak from the UW Centre of New Technologies is one of nine young scientists who received an EMBO Installation Grant. The Installation Grant is awarded to early-career researchers establishing their independent laboratories. Dr. Szwedziak carries out research on cellular architecture of Archaea and their evolution.
EMBO is an organisation which gathers more than 1800 leading researchers. It promotes excellence in the life sciences in Europe and beyond. The organisation supports talented researchers at all stages of their careers, stimulates the exchange of scientific information, and helps build a research environment where scientists can achieve their best work. EMBO Installation Grants are dedicated to researchers from the Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal and Turkey. Installation Grantees are selected annually based on high-quality research, and, together with the EMBO Young Investigators, form a prestigious network of Europe’s up-and-coming life scientists.
This year, EMBO selected nine young scientists, including Dr Piotr Szwedziak, a group leader of the Laboratory of Structural Cell Biology which operates within the “Regenerative Mechanisms for Health” International Research Agenda Unit (“ReMedy”). The laboratory aims to understand the organisation and architecture of cells at the molecular level.
“The Archaea have been described as a major domain of life that share biological traits with both the Bacteria and the Eukarya. We believe that understanding the cell biology of the Archaea in the context of eukaryogenesis is a prerequisite to decipher the morphological transition that characterised the evolution of the complex eukaryotic cellular organisation,” says Dr. Piotr Szwedziak.
To closely observe archaeal cells in three dimensions, scientists employ electron cryotomography – an electron cryomicroscopy (cryoEM) technique.
“Currently, we can not imagine modern structural biology without an electron cryomicroscope. In 2017, the Swedish Academy awarded researchers Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing cryo-electron microscopy,” stresses the UW scientist.
Dr. Piotr Szwedziak has been working at the University of Warsaw since May 2019. He did his doctoral thesis at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, University of Cambridge. Subsequently, the scientist continued as a postdoctoral researcher there, conducting research on molecular mechanisms of bacterial cell division. Between 2015 and 2019, Dr. Szwedziak was a postdoctoral researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich, where he was studying structure and function of secretion systems in pathogenic bacteria.
The 2019 Installation Grantees will establish two laboratories in the Czech Republic, one in Portugal, five in Poland and one in Turkey. Besides Dr. Piotr Szwedziak, four more scientists working in Polish instututions were awarded: Dr. Rafal Mostowy and Dr. Yusuke Azuma from the Jagiellonian University, Dr. Aleksandra Pekowska and Dr. Grzegorz Sumara from the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology.
Since the programme’s inception in 2006, EMBO has supported 112 group leaders. This year’s grantees represent six nationalities. The next application deadline for EMBO Installation Grants is 15th April 2020.