Mohana Krishna Gopisetty is an EACR Travel Fellowship recipient who returned from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden in February 2020.
The EACR has joined forces with Worldwide Cancer Research to provide Travel Fellowships of up to €3,000 to enable early-career cancer researchers to gain new skills through a short-term visit to a lab or research group in another country.
You can read about other Travel Fellowship awardees and their experiences here.
Name: Mohana Krishna Gopisetty
Job title: PhD student
Home institute: University of Szeged, Hungary
Host institute: Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
Dates of visit: January – July 2021
Research: My two current research interests converge on Endoplasmic Reticulum stress (ER stress). During my PhD I studied how silver nanoparticles inhibit multidrug resistance in breast cancer. We found a strong connection to ER stress induction potential of silver nanoparticles based on their size. My second research interest is to elucidate how cancer derived extracellular vesicles modulate tumour stromal cells to resist ER stress at the tumour microenvironment in metastatic breast cancer.
Why did you decide to apply for an EACR Travel Fellowship?
My home laboratory is mainly focused on molecular aspects of nanomaterials, but has started to embark on exosome research recently. Therefore, good competency in this skill is now needed. I have been a very satisfied member of the EACR for the past few years, so when I began planning an exchange research visit, the first funding source that came to mind was the EACR Travel Fellowships. I am immensely thankful to the EACR team for making my research visit possible.
Why did you choose the host lab?
I visited Dr. Andor Pivarcsi’s lab at the Centre for Molecular Medicine (CMM), Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. When my research proposal was ready, I contacted relevant research groups to express my interest in working with them. In this course, I received a reply from Dr. Ankit Srivastava, a postdoctoral researcher from Dr. Andor Pivarcsi’s lab, who invited me to visit and work with their team.
“I have been offered the chance to return for postdoctoral studies”
Can you shortly summarise the research you did and what you learned on your visit?
The main goal of my project was to isolate exosomes from different donors of squamous cell carcinoma, and to verify their potential in modulating stromal cells, primarily cancer associated fibroblasts in the tumour microenvironment. I, along with one of PhD students, Chen Li, primarily worked on this project. I learnt about the potential of the miRNA cargo of exosomes to modulate tumour microenvironment to assist tumour progression. Additionally, I was also involved in identifying variation in exosome surface markers from different donors of squamous cell carcinoma.
How was a typical day on your visit?
After my morning coffee and catching the train to the lab, I either proceeded to an experiment already planned or discussed results and new plans with my supervisor and colleagues. I also took part in journal clubs, group meetings and meetings with our collaborators.
What were you able to do that you could not have achieved in your home lab?
I planned this visit to learn the techniques that are not available at my home lab. I learnt techniques like exosome isolation and characterisation, nanostring data analysis, some bioinformatics tools to deal with miRNA and other molecular techniques.
Was the host institution very different from your own?
Being one of the world top ranked institutions, Karolinska Institutet is definitely different from my host institution. It has lots of international students and researchers, and has differences in grade of research, work culture and variety of research areas.
What was a personal highlight of your trip?
The personal highlight and most memorable day of this trip was the day I attended Nobel lectures and met Nobel winners in physiology and medicine. It was a wonderful experience to learn first hand from Nobel laureates on cellular oxygen sensing mechanisms. I also had the opportunity to talk to one of those laureates, Peter J. Ratcliffe.
Does your lab plan to do any future collaborations or publications with the host lab?
One of my aims behind this research visit was in fact to form a strong collaboration, which fortunately is something I achieved. My home laboratory has applied for a research grant with Dr. Andor Pivarcsi as one of our main collaborators.
How has this visit been beneficial to your research and/or your career?
This research visit taught me some important experimental skills that I need to use in my ongoing project at my home laboratory, and has also helped forge a strong collaboration between the home and host laboratories. My host laboratory was satisfied with my visit and I have been offered the chance to return for postdoctoral studies. I also gained compliments from my supervisor and colleagues for my quick adaptability to the host lab.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your trip?
I would like to use this question to express my gratitude to all those for their help and support. First of all, I thank EACR team for their travel grant provision and email support for all my questions. I am immensely grateful to Andor Pivarcsi for facilitating my visit to his lab and offering me future support. I also thank people from my host institution Ankit Srivastava, Chen Li, Kunal das Mahapatra, Borislav Ignatov, Ritu Bansal, Lorenzo Pasquali, Longlong Luo, and Mansi Manchanda.
If you are interested in applying for the Travel Fellowship scheme, please click here for more information: EACR Travel Fellowships.