PROBIST fellow obtains Assistant Research Professor position in United States

Dr. Aleksandra Karolak, a PROBIST Postdoctoral Fellow working at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), a BIST centre, has been offered an Assistant Research Professor position in California, thanks in part to her recent experience gained through the PROBIST programme.

Dr. Aleksandra Karolak joined the PROBIST Postdoctoral Programme in July 2018 as a postdoc working at IRB Barcelona in the Genome Data Science Group of the Cancer Science Unit. She was selected for the programme because of her excellent experience, motivation, and potential to become an influential leader. After just over a year in the programme, she was offered a position as Assistant Research Professor (similar to a Junior Group Leader in Europe) at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, California thanks to the set of skills she can bring to the table including her experience in the PROBIST programme.

My scientific interests have long focused on studying cancer development, prevention and treatment using computational approaches on various levels of spatial and temporal resolution.” says Karolak.

During my PhD at the University of South Florida in Tampa, USA, I started looking at conformational changes of DNA and proteins in cancer, utilizing and developing computer algorithms. My postdoctoral training at Moffitt Cancer Center, also in Tampa, shifted toward development of mathematical models for optimized cancer treatment on the cell and tissue levels. Following this, the very recent PROBIST training funded by BIST and MSC Actions at IRB Barcelona, allowed for an improvement of my set of skills through statistical and machine learning approaches. These are highly valuable when applied to human genomics or when building more accurate mathematical models and analysis of patients’ data, an important next step for my scientific career.” she concludes.

Karolak’s new position has been created by two Principal Investigators at the cancer center: Dr. Jeannine McCune and Dr. Russell Rockne, who needed someone to take the lead on their shared project aimed at improving the outcomes of patients after hematopoietic stem cell transplants using mathematical modeling. Both researchers, as well as the Chair, Dr. Vicky Seewaldt, recognized the preparedness of Karolak for the position, which will last for about two years and is expected to transition into a tenure-track Assistant Professor (the equivalent of a regular starting Principal Investigator position in Europe) therafter.

I am very excited about transitioning and growing using all experiences I have obtained in my career [so far] and would like to enthusiastically underline that the PROBIST fellowship played a big role in transitioning to this awaited milestone.” comments Karolak.

The PROBIST programme has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 754510.