Alexandra Veress, winner of the FEMS-ESCMID Award

27-03-20 Carianne Buurmeijer

Alexandra Veress (Faculty of Genetics, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary) has been awarded the 2020 FEMS-ESCMID Award for her research proposal ​‘Comparative networkomics of Salmonella enterica pathovars focusing on host adaptation’​. Dr Veress will present her research at ECCMID 2020 in Paris.​

The FEMS-ESCMID Award is a joint initiative with the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) to foster and recognize outstanding microbiology research carried out by early-career European researchers. ​​The awardees receive an additional award of € 1000 on top of their Research and Training Grant. These joint fellowships will receive appropriate publicity through both organizations.

Could you tell us about your research?

My current research is focusing on the host adaptation of Salmonella enterica subspecies I that are associated with gastroenteritis in warm blooded vertebrates, as it is one of the most common foodborne pathogens. Based on the disease symptoms, subspecies I have been classified into two groups: the gastro-intestinal pathovar leading to intestinal infections and the extra-intestinal pathovar leading to systemic infections. The members of the first group are generalists with a broad host range, while the other group includes host adapted serovars with a narrow range of targets and cause more severe illness. Our main question is what molecular interactions cause these differences in the lifestyle of otherwise closely related serovars. To understand the underlying mechanisms of host adaptation we analyse and compare the extra-intestinal and gastrointestinal serovars on a system level using an integrated network analysis approach. Since biological systems can be described and analysed by networks where nodes represent the constituents (e.g. genes) and edges represent the relationships between them (e.g. inhibition, activation, transcriptional regulation) SalmoNet 2.0 – which is an integrated data resource containing the regulatory, protein-protein and metabolic networks of Salmonella – allows us to gain new insights into regulation and signal transduction in multiple levels. The main aim of the FEMS Research and Training grant is to validate the results predicted in silico in collaboration with the Korcsmáros group of the Earlham Institute and the Kingsley group of the Quadram Institute (Norwich).

How did you celebrate winning the FEMS-ESCMID Award?

To be honest, I was shocked when I received the notification then deeply honoured to be chosen for this precious award. Unfortunately, I still have not celebrated receiving this appreciation, but I am so delighted because this is a strong professional feedback on my work.

What is your favourite microbe and why?

E. coli is one of the most important model organism because it can be simply maintained in the laboratory. The rapid growth and the ability to be easily genetically modified make E.coli a great tool for molecular and microbiology studies.

Have you been in contact with FEMS before? And how was that experience?

Yes, I participated at the 7th Congress of European Microbiologists. I was amazed how many people visited the conference. Gathering the microbiologists from all over Europe is a great opportunity to get in contact with other research groups with similar interest and to broaden the professional knowledge in many fields of microbiology.

Could you tell us about the microbiology society you a member of?

I often participate in conferences of the Hungarian Society for Microbiology (MMT) to present the latest results of my research and keep myself informed about the recent microbiology studies. Being a member of the MMT contributed to apply for the FEMS Research and Training grant. I also participate in an article competition announced by MMT.

What is your favourite quote?

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought”. — Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

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