Pathogens and Disease Poster Prize: Theresa Née Meyer

We send our congratulations to Theresa Karagöz (Née Meyer), who won the Best Poster Prize at FEMS2023. This award is sponsored by our journal Pathogens and Disease.

FEMS2023 took place on 9-13 July 2023 in Hamburg, Germany. We had over 1800 participants from over 70 countries join us to share all the latest developments across the broad scope of microbiology.

Read our interview with Theresa about her research below:


What is your current position, and what was your scientific journey to get there?

I am currently a PhD student at the Institute of Infectiology at the Center for Molecular Biology of Inflammation in Münster. My path in science has been driven by a profound interest in infection microbiology, specifically focusing on intestinal pathogens. I completed my Master’s degree in the same lab where I am now pursuing my PhD, which has allowed me to build a strong foundation in this specialized field. During my Master’s program, I had a unique opportunity to further enhance my expertise through a research stay in Brazil. This experience was incredibly valuable, as it provided me with exposure to different research methodologies and perspectives. Unfortunately, my research stay was prematurely terminated due to the global pandemic, but the challenges I faced during that time have further motivated me to contribute meaningfully to the field of infection microbiology.


What did you enjoy most at FEMS2023?

Participating in FEMS2023 was a great experience. The diverse range of topics covered at the conference allowed me to listen and learn about very different aspects of microbiology and provided a lot of new insights. Interacting with inspiring speakers, both through personal interactions and their presentations, had a lasting impact on me. I also enjoyed the networking and career events during lunch time. For early career scientists like me, these kinds of events are very valuable.


Could you describe the research your poster covered?

In my PhD project, I am interested in the modulation of the human immune response by an effector protein of the intestinal pathogen Shigella flexneri. Many gram-negative pathogens employ a specific secretion system to deliver such effector proteins. However, we found a family of proteins, characterized by strong structural homologies, to be able to translocate into different eukaryotic cells autonomously. Taking advantage of this ability, we not only investigate the protein’s route into the cell but also the hijacking of the host’s ubiquitination system by its E3 ubiquitin ligase activity and thereby manipulating cellular processes during infection. Given the anti-inflammatory properties of many bacterial effector proteins and the auto-translocating activity of our protein of interest, the application as a therapeutic agent could be beneficial to different chronic inflammatory diseases.


What do you hope to focus your research on in the future?

Looking ahead, I’m excited to learn as much as I can about the sophisticated interaction between bacterial pathogens and their hosts. Both the microbial- but also the immunological site of this interplay are of great interest to me. I hope to contribute to our understanding of these dynamics by exploring novel insights and innovative approaches in my research.


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