MPI welcomes new Max Planck Research Group Leader Katarzyna Kliza

Research of new Max Planck Research Group Leader has potential to uncover new clinically relevant targets

April 26, 2023

From April 2023 on Katarzyna Kliza will establish her independent Max Planck Research Group at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Molecular Physiology in Dortmund. Her group will use a multifaceted and interdisciplinary approach to investigate the role of specific post-translational modifications, ADP ribosylations, in gene regulation. Max Planck Research Group Leaders are appointed by the President of the Max Planck Society and - similar to the Directors - enjoy an independent status within the institute.

Katarzyna was born in Poland. She completed her doctorate at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main and afterwards she was a postdoc at Radboud University in the Netherlands. In addition to the scholarship of the Polish Minister of Science and Higher Education for outstanding young scientists, she has received both the prestigious Marie Curie Fellowship and the competitive EMBO Long-Term Fellowship.


What will your lab research focus be and what lead you to this area of research?

We will investigate post-translational modifications with exceptional biomedical relevance, namely ADP-ribosylation. We will therefore develop novel methods that will allow us to elucidate its molecular functions. By decoding ADP-ribosylation signalling networks, we aim to discover clinically relevant targets, which will pave the way for developing novel treatments for human diseases, such as cancer and immune diseases. 

My scientific fascination with post-translational modifications started during my Masters and continues ever since. As a PhD student and post-doctoral scientist, I established proteomics-based approaches for studying post-translational modifications. Hence, the group's research line is to build on my previous scientific experiences and discoveries.


Why did you choose to establish your group at the MPI Dortmund?

The MPI offers the best environment for scientists who aspire to establish successful independent research groups. It is a very prestigious and renowned institute with many talented researchers with diverse yet complementary scientific interests. Furthermore, the available infrastructure, especially the mass spectrometry facility, seems ideal for my research program. Due to the pleiotropic cellular functions of ADP-ribosylation and my technical expertise, I foresee collaborative opportunities with numerous research groups on the Dortmund campus. Dortmund seems to be a dynamic, research and technology-friendly city, so it is very attractive for a researcher like me.


Why does Mass spectrometry play such a big role in your science?

There are hundreds of post-translational modifications and their biomedical importance is increasingly recognized but remains largely unexploited territory. This knowledge gap is caused, among others, by limitations of traditional methods for the specific detection of post-translational modifications, such as ADP-ribosylation. Mass spectrometry became a true game-changer, as it is a highly sensitive technology enabling the discovery of known and novel post-translational modifications in both qualitative and quantitative manner, even in very complex samples. Hence, with such a powerful technique, our group will be able to address many questions that have remained open in the ADP-ribosylation field for years.


You have worked in laboratories in Poland, in Germany and in the Netherlands. What are the differences?

Very interesting question! Having worked in three countries, I have observed and experienced first-hand different organizational approaches in academia, from research, and teaching to administration. For example, the PhD student status, PhD dissertation format, submission procedure and defence are quite different in each of those countries. Another example: habilitation does not exist in the Dutch higher educational system, contrary to Germany and Poland. While learning about different academic systems was challenging at times, it was also immensely professionally enriching, and I am happy that I got to experience it all.


How do you relax after a hard day at work?

I tried to relax in many ways over the years, from jogging, mindfulness to cooking exotic dishes. While those activities still occasionally help me unwind, my daily way to relax is by spending time or calling my friends and family to share some laughs together. 

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