Meet Invited Speaker Dr Helena Bujdakova
We are pleased to introduce Dr Helena Bujdáková, Institute of chemistry, Technology and Metallurgy, University of Belgrade Department of Chemistry, one of the speakers at the FEMS Online Conference on Microbiology 2020.
Session 6: Biofilms, 31 October 10.00 – 11.30
Presentation: Photodynamic inactivation – a promising approach combating resistant microorganisms
What motto or quote inspires you?
My life and scientific carrier were strongly influenced by my father. His motto was: “There is only one truth and it is up to you how to approach it”. Understanding the truth in science based on quality scientific research using critical thinking as well as publishing objective results should be a key parameter for the dissemination of knowledge. Nowadays, when it is very difficult to discriminate among qualified research and “junk science”, this attitude is particularly important.
Science can be practiced everywhere, but every location has its pros and cons. What makes the city you work in, Bratislava, special?
Bratislava is our capital, and it is very pleasant to live in. Universities and scientific institutes in Bratislava with many famous scientific personalities have been the “heart” of Slovak science for decades. However, scientific institutions in Bratislava, are very adversely affected by the bureaucratic decision to exclude Bratislava universities and scientific institutions from most EU funds and projects. The fact that Bratislava is the richest region does not in any way contribute to a better situation of science in the institutions in this city, rather the opposite. The tradition and quality of science concentrated in the capital at the beginning of the transition of the country a few decades ago was the hope for the successful transformation. This potential has not been realized. On the other hand, Bratislava is still the center of the best Slovak universities and would deserve more support from the government and EU funds.
What motivated you to research photodynamic inactivation (PDI) in the eradication of microbial biofilms?
In the beginning, it was an attempt to try something different than the conventional approaches using antimicrobial drugs in the eradication of microbial biofilms. It is always better to have more “weapons” against diseases. Later, when I realized how significant success was achieved in the treatment of oncological diseases using photodynamic therapy, I began, as a microbiologist, to delve deeper into this issue. In recent years, we have seen tremendous advances in optical and laser technologies, the development of new types of materials, including photosensitizers. Photodynamic inactivation as an approach useful for the eradication of microorganisms is at the beginning and I firmly believe that until I finish my scientific career, this approach will be used much more often in ordinary microbiological practice.
Tell us about your dreams – professionally that is. What research proposal would you say yes to without hesitation?
My dream is to add a “small contribution” to the development of microbiology at a national as well as international level. From a point of the national level, I am trying to contribute to the development
of microbiology at our university focused on “step by step” building equipment infrastructure but also personnel capacities leading to establishing an excellent workplace with high-quality science. My ambition is to contribute together with my team to something revolutionary in the field of basic research in microbiology, which would have the potential to real practical applications. In an international context, searching for international cooperation supporting our development together with publishing interesting results is our priority.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing microbiologists today?
After the discovery of penicillin as well as other antibiotics, humanity thought that infectious diseases will no longer pose a danger in the future. The current situation in the Coronavirus pandemics is a proof of how microscopic organisms can surprise us. The challenges we face in this context, must be an even stronger motivation for all scientists involved in the microbiological research to work together. The main tools for success are excellent basic research, on which modern technologies and the pharmaceutical industry can also rely. The systemic tools of this support should not be decided by the bureaucracy, but by the scientific elite.