Meet Invited Speaker Dr Rita Hirmondo

29-10-20 Carianne Buurmeijer

Dr Rita Hirmondo

We are pleased to introduce Dr Rita Hirmondo, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Budapest, Hungary, Institute of Enzymology, FEMS Grants alumnus and one of the speakers at the FEMS Online Conference on Microbiology 2020.

Session 8: FEMS session & short presentations by grantees 30 October, 16.00 – 17.20
Presentation: Investigation of the mutator effects of currently used TB drugs provides insight into the mechanism of drug resistance development in Mycobacteria

Could you introduce us to your research field – to what questions does it seek answers?

The main question of our research project is how drug resistance is evolving in mycobacteria. Interestingly, in contrast to the remarkable genomic diversity displayed in isolates from tuberculosis patients, the basal mutation rate in mycobacteria is very low in vitro, suggesting that genotoxic stress and harsh conditions within the host cell may have specific role. Therefore, the detailed understanding of these potential mutator effects would provide insight into the mechanism of drug resistance development and allow better management of current therapeutics. To unravel this interesting question, we investigated the effect of different environmental stress factors (oxidative stress, starvation, hypoxia, alkylating agents, UV, etc.) or currently used tuberculosis drugs (first and second line antibiotics), for mutation rates and the spectra; expression pattern of DNA repair enzymes and cellular dNTP concentrations. In the following conference presentation, I will focus on currently used first line tuberculosis drugs and their effect on resistance development.

Do you think there is enough attention for your research field?

Tuberculosis is still one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide in spite of century-long efforts to combat it. In addition, spreading of multidrug-resistant bacteria, like MDR tuberculosis also denotes a public health crisis. Therefore, the different studies in the field of investigation the mechanism of drug resistance development mostly gain high interest.

For many scientists, this will be their first Online / Virtual conference, what do you think are the pros and cons of this format compared to in-life conferences?

At the moment, I am last month pregnant, therefore the online/virtual mode of the present conference is alleviating me to attend this event. Despite this, I would rather prefer personal events, as a normal conference has special atmosphere, and the researchers can get in touch with each other more easily. In addition, a normal conference is concentrated to a defined place and time frame, therefore it is more straightforward to follow the events precisely. To be honest, an online event is tolerating to be concerned with other things like laboratory work. 😉

Who was crucial to your professional development? How did that person inspire or help you?

I think, my PhD supervisor, Judit Toth was crucial in my professional development, as I became more or less autonomous in designing and doing experiments in this stage of my studies. Now as a postdoc researcher I profit from those PhD years when she allowed me to practice my capabilities. Besides her, I met certain inspiring researchers in conferences and courses I attended.
If you were to advise the ten year younger ‘you’ on professional development, what advice would you give?
To attend as many courses / summer schools as possible. They are very useful, also in professional development and to make other researchers’ acquaintance (junior or senior researchers) as well.


The FEMS Online Conference on Microbiology is planned to be small to medium sized, happening in alternate years to the Congress of European Microbiologists and organized in close collaboration with a local microbiology society. Here, intercontinental, European, regional, and local scientists, from all stages in their career and from all demographical backgrounds, can participate in a high-profile conference. This year, it is based on an intense collaboration with the Serbian Society for Microbiology and boasts a variety of regional speakers.
Our commitment at FEMS is to help support microbiologists do their work, promote the best in microbiology research and knowledge to the world, and bring microbiologists together to share that knowledge. This event supports that commitment: giving high value for money at a low registration fee it opens possibilities for networking and exchanging knowledge and experiences to all.


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