Team

Principal investigator:

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Professor Janusz Adam Rak, PhD, DSc received both his MSc (1986; physical chemistry) and PhD (1992; physical and theoretical chemistry) with first class honors. In 2000 he got his habilitation in theoretical and physical chemistry, and in 2007 he received a professor title. In 1994 and 1995 he spent several months at the Oakland University  (OU; MS, USA) as a postdoc and then in 1996/97 he worked at OU as a Fulbright Foundation Fellow. The years 1997-1998 and three months of 2001 he spent at the Technical University of Munich as a Humboldt Foundation Fellow. In 2005 he visited University of Girona (Spain), and 2 months of 2006 and 2008 he stayed at the Jackson State University (Mississippi, USA) as a visiting professor. In the years 2000-2001 Prof. Rak headed the Division of Quantum Chemistry, in 2002-2013 the Division of Theoretical Physical Chemistry and currently he is a head of the Biological Sensitizers Laboratory at the Department of Chemistry University of Gdańsk. His past interests comprised photoconductivity in solution, thermochemistry of organic and inorganic salts, prototropic tautomerism in organic compounds, chemiluminescence of acridine derivatives, intermolecular forces with particular emphasis on the non-additive effects as well as repair processes in DNA. Currently, he is involved in the quantum chemical investigations of the electron-induced degradation of DNA, long-range electron transfer in this biopolymer, and theoretically-experimental studies on DNA sensitization to UV photons and ionizing radiation. Professor Rak published over 130 original and review articles in Journal of the American Chemical Society,  Angewandte Chemie, Chemical Communications, the Journal of Physical Chemistry, the Journal of Chemical Physics etc. He also delivered invited lectures at the Technical University of Munich, University of Girona, Jackson State University, Oakland University and Johns Hopkins University as well at a number of local and international conferences. He played the role of PI in two international grants financed by British-Polish Research Partnership Program (2004-2006) and British Royal Society (e-GAP; 2007-2008). He led as well many individual grants granted by the Scientific Research Committee and Ministry of Science and Higher Education. He also received grants from the National Science Center via the OPUS 3 funding scheme and very recently via the MESTRO 6 program.  He was regularly awarded by the Foundation for the Development of Gdańsk University, Foundation for Polish Science, Ministry of National Education and Rector of Gdańsk University.

Investigators:

Molecular modelling:

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Lidia Chomicz-Mańka, Ph.D. – engaged in studies on the mechanisms of modified DNA radiodegradation, with the use of quantum theory tools. She is experienced especially in the DFT (Density Functional Theory) methods and starting to use hybrid type calculations methodology (e.g. ONIOM). She defended her doctoral thesis, titled: Not only 5-bromouracil. Nucleic acids derivatives as potential radiosensitizers, with honours, in March 2015 at the Faculty of Chemistry, University of Gdańsk. She did two research stays: in Institute of Applied Radiation Chemistry, Technical University of Łódź (2 months, 2008) and Interdisciplinary Center for Nanotoxicity, Jackson State University (3 months, 2011). Winner of START scholarship (Foundation for Polish Science, twice: 2014 and 2015), University of Gdańsk Rector’s Award (Team, 2014), beneficiary of InnoDoktorant (2013) and Kształcimy najlepszych (2012) scholarships for PhD students. Since October 2013 working as a Research Assistant in Physical Chemistry Chair, Faculty of Chemistry, University of Gdańsk.

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Jacek Czub, Ph.D. – his main scientific interests are in the application of computational and theoretical methods to study (bio)molecular systems. He uses molecular simulations to study driving forces behind biology- and chemistry-related processes at the microscopic level. The current research projects include mechanisms of energy conversion in protein motors, DNA-protein interactions, interactions of ligands and proteins with lipid membranes, the effect of co-solvents on the structural stability of proteins and DNA. Within the Maestro grant he is involved in studying the mechanisms of DNA radiodegradation through ab-initio molecular dynamics. After completing his Ph.D. in chemistry, he worked for three years (2008-2011) as a postdoc in the computational biophysics lab of Prof. Helmut Grubmuller at the Max Planck Institute for Biphysical Chemistry. He was awarded a scholarship within the Foundation for Polish Science “Start” Programme (2008) and a scholarship for young outstanding investigators by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (2012-2015). He obtained research grants within the Foundation for Polish Science “Homing Plus” Programme (2012-2014) and within the Iuventus Plus Programme of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (2013-2016).

Samanta

Samanta Makurat, MSc has been studying the effects of electron attachment to thymidine analogues for her master’s thesis research. That allowed her to gain some experience in computational chemistry methods. One of the best students, repeatedly awarded for great academic performance.

Miłosz

Miłosz Wieczór, Eng. – specializes in studying biologically relevant problems by means of molecular dynamics (MD), combining the approaches of classical molecular mechanics (MM) and quantum mechanics (QM). In his research, he applies a wide range of simulational free energy methods well grounded in statistical thermodynamics. Holder of the Diamond Grant (2014), selected as the best student at the Gdańsk University of Technology (2014).

Paweł

Paweł Wityk, MSc, Eng. – specializes in studying foto- and radiodamege to the native or labeled DNA molecules alone or interacting with proteins/peptides. In his research he uses a teoretical and experimental approchaches  by means of: theoretical work – molecular dynamics (MD), ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) and combined approach – quantum mechanisc/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) and in experimental work – CLICK reaction for covalently bound DNA/peptides conjugates and a wide range of analitical methods (HPLC, CD, nano-DSC, microLC-MS and gel electrophoresis).

 Synthesis:

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Witold Kozak, MSc, Eng. - Born in Kalisz, where he began his education. In 2013 he defended his Master’s thesis in Chemical Technology on Chemical Faculty at the Gdansk University of Technology. In Fall 2013 he started his PhD studies under the supervision of J. Rachon. The topic of his dissertation is “Design, synthesis and biological evaluation of new phosphate and thiophosphate coumarin, biphenyl, tyramine and flavone analogs as potential inhibitors of steroid sulfatase (STS)”. He is a synthetic chemist that can handle with both well known and already described compounds as well as novel, non-reported derivatives.
Not only science and chemistry are vital for him. He has lots of other interests. The most essential one is music and here not only listening is considered. He plays the drums in a thrashmetal band Deathinition. Moreover he plays volleyball in an amateur team, reads books a lot and fancies spending his free time being active.

Serdiuk

Illia E. Serdiuk, Ph.D. – graduated from Faculty of Chemisty in V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University (Ukraine) in 2011 with honors degree. From 2010 till 2012, he worked as organic chemist in LLC “Institute of combinatorial organic synthesis of biologically active substances” (Ukraine). In 2016, he defended PhD thesis titled “Synthesis and spectral features of flavones in which intra- and intermolecular proton transfer occurs” with honors degree in University of Gdańsk. I. E. Serdiuk is currently the project manager of research grant titled “Synthesis, structure and luminogenic features of novel fluorophores originating from 7-hydroxyflavone and 3,7-dihydroxyflavone” financed by the National Scientific Centre of Poland (NCN) within Preludium 7 program, and was project executor of 3 other research grants in Poland and Ukraine. Research interests of I. E. Serdiuk involve synthesis of organic compounds (dyes, fluorophores and nucleic bases), excited-state proton transfer (ESPT) phenomenon, interactions of peptides and enzymes with fluorophores, plasmon resonance enhanced fluorescence, solid-state fluorescence and chemiluminescence.
In the research group of Prof. J. Rak, I. E. Serdiuk participates as organic chemist involved in the synthesis of nucleobase derivatives.

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Marta Sosnowska, Ph.D. – has experience in the synthesis of protein (SAA) by native chemical ligation. She was involved in studies of the aggregation process of SAA protein and its amyloid prone fragments by mass spectrometry, FTIR, CD and fluorescence spectroscopy. Her research focused on the searching for the inhibitors of amyloidosis led her to determine the molecular recognition and self-assembly mechanisms that promote the formation of amyloid fibril deposits. In 2014 she spent 2 months at the Karolinska Istitutet, Stockholm (Prof. Roman Zubarev Group), where she implemented the project “Hydrogen exchange mass spectrometry (HXMS) for studying human serum amyloid A fibril formation”, funded by the National Centre of Polish Science, Preludium II. In addition, she was principal investigator of two research projects of the Young Scientists of the University of Gdańsk grant.
Currently, she is involved in the chemical synthesis of modified nucleobases and nucleosides – potential sensitizers, able to improving the effectiveness of anticancer therapy. MAESTRO fellowship.

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Paulina Spisz, MSc, Eng. – engaged in the synthesis of modified nucleosides with potential sensitizing properties. She has experience in the synthesis of acridone derivatives, she conducted research on the development of a new synthesis method for glucuronidation of acridinone antitumor agents. MAESTRO fellowship.

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Alicja Kawecka, MSc during her undergraduate studies she conducted research synthesis and isolation for the reaction of 3- azido – 2,3-dideoxy-D-hexopyranoside with selected compounds containing hydroxyl substituent. This allowed her to gain experience in the synthesis of carbohydrates that can successfully be used in the synthesis of modified nucleic bases and nucleosides – potential sensitizers for improving the effectiveness of anticancer therapy. In her studies she applies a number of techniques including high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance. Winner of competition for the best master’s thesis organized by Polish Chemical Society (branch in Gdańsk).  She did a two weeks research stay in Institute of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry at Friedrich Schiller University of Jena (Germany) and also participated in the Erasmus Exchange Programme at the University of Glasgow (Scotland). Besides the scientific work she is an active member of the Postgraduate Council.

Radiation and photochemically induced damage of DNA models:

Kinga

Kinga Westphal, MSc engages in quantitative and qualitative assessment of UV/radio-induced damage in double or single stranded DNA labeled with modified nucleobases. In her studies she applies a number of techniques including qPCR, HPLC and LC/MS. The results of her research were presented at many national and international conferences. In 2014 she took an internship held under the People Program (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union Seventh Framework Program – “NanoBRIDGES – building bridges between specialists on computational and empirical risk assessment of engineered nanomaterials”. She also obtained the research grant within competition for the University of Gdańsk young scientists. Winner of competition for the best master’s thesis organized by Polish Chemical Society (branch in Gdańsk). Member of Polish Mass Spectrometry Society.

Magda

Magdalena Zdrowowicz, MSc – engaged in experimental studies on the photo- and radiosensitivity of DNA labeled with nucleoside analogs. She is experienced especially in synthesis of the modified oligonucleotides and analysis of DNA damage. Currently, she is trying to sensitize cellular DNA to electromagnetic radiation, as a principal investigator of NSC PRELUDIUM grant.

Cellular response:

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Anna Herman-Antosiewicz, PhD, Assoc. Prof. – Academic in the Department of Molecular Biology, Faculty of Biology, University of Gdańsk. Together with her collaborators conducts research on -among others -biology of cancer cells and their response at the molecular level to drugs or potential anticancer drugs. She applies methods of molecular and cell biology and in vitro cell culture models. She received two long-term post-doctoral trainings, in Nagoya University School of Medicine (Japan) and Pittsburgh University Cancer Institute (USA). She is the recipient of scientific awards, including award of Minister of Education, Polish Biochemical Society, Polish Genetic Society, Rector of the Medical University of Gdansk, and of scholarship for young scientists of the Foundation for Polish Science. Co-author of 49 scientific publications.

Ola

Aleksandra Hać, Ph.D. – her main scientific interests focuses on the impact of potential therapeutic agents on cancer cells biology. In her studies she applies a number of molecular and cell biology techniques including viability tests, flow cytometry, immunoblotting, two-step quantitative PCR (qRT-PCR) or fluorescence microscopy. Dr. Hać was awarded numerous scholarships, including national (Prime Minister scholarship, the pro-quality subsidy for the best Ph.D. students, scholarship within the project  “Programme of University of Gdańsk development in the areas 2020 (UG 2020) “) as well as scholarships awarded by international organizations including the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), the Federation of Societies of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (FEBS) and the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB). She is also a laureate of the Polish Biochemical Society Award in a Włodzimierz Mozołowski competition. Moreover, she obtained research grants within the competition for the University of Gdańsk young scientists (a realization of the project awarded) and in the Preludium Programme of the National Science Centre.

 Former team members:

Justyna

Justyna Wiczk, Ph.D. – engaged in qualitative and quantitative assesment of the impact of the type of sensitizer and its local surroundings in DNA on the performance of  photo- and radiodamage formation. In her research she makes use of real-time PCR, denaturing high performance liquid chomatography (DHPLC), gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry. She is a scholar of the project “The development of the University of Gdansk in the areas of 2020 (UG 2020)” (2014).

Kamila

Kamila Butowska, MSc – engaged in experimental studies on radiosensitizing properties of oxygen mimetics, mainly metronidazole. She won the AMBER competition co-financed by the European Union under the European Social Fund. She did a one-month-long research stay in Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich (Germany). She is a member of the Student’s Sciencific Association of Chemistry and of the Chemistry Department Student ‘s Selfgovernment Council at University of Gdańsk. MAESTRO fellowship.

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Łukasz Golon, MSc – his interests concern the methods of density functional theory and hybrid QM/MM methods. He works on describing the radiosensitizing properties of modified nucleosides. At the moment he’s focused on modeling enzymatic reactions leading to their incorporation into nuclear DNA. Winner of Award for the Best Graduate of Master’s Studies in Chemistry at University of Gdańsk (2013). He has completed a two month COST STSM research stay at Analytical Biochemistry Group, University of Groningen, investigating the possibility of electrochemical inducement of the damage in 5-bromo-2’-deoxyuridine labeled DNA. He is the principal investigator of Young Scientist Grant at the University of Gdańsk, titled Investigation of the enzymatic phosphorylation of thymidine and its potentially radio- or photosensitizing analogues.