Examining cancer at the molecular level: Research Week scientist Inese Čakstiņa
Inese Čakstiņa, molecular biologist, leading researcher at the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, RSU Institute of Oncology and RSU lecturer has received the L’Oreal Latvia scholarship “For Women in Science” and was a nominee for the prestigious Latvian award Laiks Ziedonim in the science category Attack of the Butterflies.
Why am I involved in research?
Since childhood, I have always had a natural interest in everything that is visible in the world around us. Look – a scar on my arm, but how and why does it heal? I am fascinated how biology, chemistry and physics come together in our bodies. During my school years, everyone expected that I would study medicine, therefore, biology – the field that I accidentally found myself in – was a great surprise to my family. As I look back now, I see that I am in the right place – doctors mostly deal with consequences, whereas I am more interested in causes. Manifestations that we can observe at a molecular level will be visible externally much later. To examine cancer at the molecular level means searching for answers and solutions for battling it. This is not a simple fight – cancer is very plastic and multiform, the cells are quick to evolve. It is like putting together a monumental and invaluable puzzle!
Why do I plan to attend the RSU international research conference?
I plan to attend and speak in three sections. In the Oncology Section I will analyse the way we can cultivate cells, which is something that we started in two dimensions at the Institute, but we have now been implementing 3D cultures. In this section, I will share my knowledge on the way we can create models in vitro or in laboratory conditions, on which we can test the effect of specific ingredients in medication. I will also speak at the Infectology Section where I will discuss new approaches in combating resistant microorganisms. In the University Teaching and Learning Thematic Conference "Students as Researchers" I will share my experience in integrating the knowledge I gained during my research work into an elective course for students titled “Horizontal Transfer of Genes” at the Faculty of Medicine.
Why should you attend the conference?
To dispel the myth that nothing happens in Latvian science because of its relatively meagre funding. The conference will showcase the most recent scientific contributions both in clinics as well as medical research institutes. Although the amount of funding is small, we undertake research, and we have significant projects underway. It is essential to share this not only with researchers at all levels, but also students, doctoral students and residents. It is essential for the general public to be aware that there are many achievements in Latvian science. The RSU Conference is a part of Research Week which will feature several events, among them popular science-oriented activities, ensuring that the message of the potential of Latvian science reaches its audience.