Florentina Negoita started a Postdoctoral Fellowship at CBMR in April, when she joined the Sakamoto Group. In this interview, she explains the factors that led her to pursue a career in research, the reasons for joining CBMR, and the scientific questions she hopes to pursue. But we start by asking how she has faced the challenge of carrying out research during a lockdown.
“Due to the current situation, my wet lab work is limited and so I am spending more time on literature reading and project planning. Reading is something that has often been compromised due to my desire to perform experiments and obtain as much data as possible for publication, but its value is sometimes underestimated.
“It turns out that the strategy has its advantages and I am getting a lot of new ideas through reading papers as well as brainstorming sessions at our virtual group meetings. I have also been fortunate, to some extent, because I have been allowed to perform some experimental work this month in Lund, Sweden. My current project is a collaborative project with a lab in Lund where I recently did my postdoc and obtained some key results relevant for my current project at CBMR.
Why did you get into biomedical sciences?
Everything started with my passion for chemistry in primary and high school. I found it fascinating, followed every class, and joined the chemistry club. Due to my passion in chemistry, I participated national chemistry competitions and was happy to get prizes every year – I got the first prize when I was in 8th grade!. I also found biology interesting, mostly due to my many chats and discussions with my mother who is a biology teacher. When I became a university student, I decided to study pharmacy as my main subject, because I felt it is a hybrid of chemistry and biology for curing human diseases. After taking a one-year biochemistry course, I found it a most fascinating, useful, and also challenging field. I also realized that there are so many things within this field, which are not known, which makes it also even more fascinating and challenging. I was always a very curious person who asked many questions and tried to find solutions to problems. As a result of these many experiences and long discussions with my uncle who is a researcher in the area of sports medicine, I eventually decided to go for a research career in biomedical sciences.
What is the primary scientific question that you wish to address?
Over the past last several years, degradation and recycling emerged as essential biological processes for maintaining cellular and tissue homeostasis. A strong basis has been developed on the relevance of the processes for maintaining a healthy state of various tissues, and methods have also been significantly advanced recently. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms are still in its infancy. My project aims to identify the key molecular mechanisms underlying these processes in metabolic tissues. I hope that the findings of our study will provide exciting, new and useful information, which might be helpful later for developing strategies for treatment of different metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.
Why did you decide to join CMBR?
My long term career goal is to establish my own research group in the field of metabolic diseases, with a special interest in degradation pathways. Besides this, I have developed a personal interest in metabolism, exercise and nutrition. During my free time I like to read a lot in these areas and, as a hobby, apply the knowledge to my fitness training.
At this stage of my career, I thought that I needed to further extend my knowledge and experience in the field of metabolism. CBMR seems like a very successful and productive Center in the field. I was impressed by the Center’s high quality articles reporting novel and interesting findings, development of unique methods, and state of the art core facilities and equipment. It is a very attractive place to take my career and my knowledge to another level.
What sort of research experiences do you expect to get in the Sakamoto Group?
I have only been working in the lab for one month, but I feel like I have already learned so much. Although I have not been able to do wet lab work at the Center due to the lockdown, I have gained many other types of research experiences, which perhaps are even more important than physical lab work. The weekly Zoom group meetings are very stimulating and useful for gaining a deep understanding of the ongoing projects in the group. I gain a lot of new information and insights from the meetings and afterwards I often come up with new ideas or directions for my project or see the project from a different point of view. I feel that I am gradually broadening my knowledge and improving my thinking after each group meeting. I have improved my project planning skills and learned many tips for planning to get high-quality data. I also very much like the fact that there is excellent communications in the group. The group is very well organized and everybody knows exactly what they need to do – it seems to be a perfectly functional team. I am also very glad that I learned novel methods and sophisticated strategies within my project in order to (hopefully) get high quality data. I personally find this group as an excellent environment to do research and to develop as a researcher.
Keep up to date with the Sakamoto Lab on Twitter – Follow us @LabSakamoto