Inside 11 Agata Nyga

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Agata Nyga

Agata Nyga is a post-doctoral researcher at the Mechanics of development and disease group, led by Vito Conte. She did his PhD in London (WHERE XXXXX) and then moved to IBEC in (YEAR XXXXX). One of the reasons she moved to Barcelona was to learn and use the “Traction force microscopy” technique.

She is a morning person, firs things first, a cup of coffee and a good reading, usually scientific news. She loves yoga, it helped her to be stronger and more determined in achieving her scientific goals. She likes to work with people from different fields so they can share scientific knowledge, as she says, “curiosity is contagious”.

Her research is focused on studying the mechanical properties of normal cells undergoing oncogenesis, and it combines both laboratory (wet) experiments and computational analysis. Their goal is to understand how the cell mechanics change when it becomes cancerous, and whether we can exploit healthy cell mechanics to preserve tissue integrity and prevent cancerous transformation.

There is a lot of preparation involved in order to proceed with her experiments; preparing the reagents, the gels where the cells will grow, cell incubation, using fluorescent microscope in order to see the cells transitioning from normal to cancerous. She performs experiments such as measuring the amount of different proteins inside the cells or staining cellular components to visualise their morphology or localisation.

Since she moved to Barcelona, she has trained in using computational tools to process images and analyse various cellular functions. One of the key techniques she uses to study cell mechanics is traction force microscopy, where she gets real-live imaging, so it is possible to quantify how cells exert forces on the substrate they grow on.

Her group is also specialised in Skype meetings. That’s because his group leader, Vito Conte, is based in Eindhoven, and Agata and the group here at IBEC, so the team is divided between these two institutions. They normally meet once a week, and that’s when they discuss about their projects and share the group’s progress. After two years of programming, she enjoys her time on the computer.

The group here at IBEC is also composed by other PhD’s and master/bachelor students. She finds very stimulating to work with students and she likes to train them in different techniques and giving them guidance so they can work on their own.

In the afternoons she takes time to write applications for future fellowships. In 2020 she hopes she can secure funding so she can combine her current current knowledge and expertise to work with patients’ samples in identifying biomechanical markers in cancer progression.