This highly competitive, 5 year fellowship will support the Gromak group’s investigation of R-loops in health and disease.
The Gromak group studies the role of R-loops in health and disease. These unusual nucleic acid structures are surprisingly common in genomes, and are composed of an RNA/DNA hybrid and a single strand of DNA. Formed in all living organisms, they can occupy 10% of the human genome under physiological conditions. R-loops have emerged as important regulators in biological processes as diverse as transcription, DNA replication, generation of antibody diversity, epigenetics and DNA damage responses.
Natalia is a leader in the field and has, for example, identified multiple R-loop binding factors, which mediate their many roles. Excitingly, the group focuses not only on the fundamental molecular processes mediated by these R-loop binding factors, but also their relevance to rare neurodegenerative diseases such as Aicardi-Goutières syndrome and Friedreich’s Ataxia.
On her appointment, Natalia said: “I was delighted to hear the news! This fellowship will enable us to look much deeper into fundamental mechanisms of R-loop biology in physiological conditions and in disease. I am excited because this research will also open up translational opportunities for therapeutic drug development for currently incurable neurodegenerative disorders. Many thanks to everybody who contributed to the work forming the basis of this fellowship programme and also a big thanks to our collaborators and many R-loop enthusiasts across the globe”
Natalia is an expert in RNA biology and studied Molecular Biology in the University of Edinburgh, followed by PhD at the University of Cambridge with Chris Smith. She did her Post-Doctoral training in Oxford with Nick Proudfoot. Natalia started her lab at the Dunn School in 2012, supported by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship and more recently by multiple other grants. In addition to her academic success, she consults for companies such as Pfizer and Vertex.
Recognising her achievements, Dr Gromak has been appointed as an Associate Professor at the Dunn School, in association with Trinity College.