As an international community of cancer researchers, the European Association for Cancer Research stands united in support of our scientific colleagues in Ukraine. We offer financial support to displaced researchers from Ukraine in the form of funded short-term placements in international cancer research labs to help give them time and safety in which to plan their next move or apply for other roles. You can learn more about this support here.

Marta Kutniak

Marta Kutniak is a resident doctor at the Institute of Postgraduate Education at Bogomolets National Medical University in Ukraine who received EACR Ukraine Grant funding to help her take up a placement at the Institute of Hematology, Universitaria di Bologna in Italy between January and April 2023.

She has since completed her placement and returned home to Ukraine.

She writes here about her experience.

How did you come to apply for an EACR Ukraine Grant?

I decided to apply for this program because I understand my homeland needs not only material support but also academic support for young people. I feel the necessity of international experience and different approaches in science and medicine. These things were the reasons why I applied for this opportunity.

Why did you choose the host lab?

My choice of lab was determined by my passion in medicine – hematology. Also this great lab is a part of Institute of Hematology “L. & A. Seragnoli”, which is a perfect example how it is possible to do science in a medical establishment.

Marta and friends at Galleria Uffizi

Did you take part in any interesting local or cultural activities?

My placement was in a time for Italian traditional parties – Carnevale and Easter, eating a lot of traditional Italian food, especially frappe, which are these crispy, delightful strips. In this time I was able to share Ukrainian traditions and ate traditional Ukrainian food together.

Was the host institution very different from your own?

It was new to me in my host institution, first of all, how it is possible to combine clinical work and research work due to weekly meetings of both units, that allow to evaluate and make progress in research. Also I was impressed about the support program for young professionals – a charity organisation for supporting science. In Ukraine we miss those things. Moreover, I was very impressed by the scale of the laboratory and the availability of a wide range of equipment and research approaches.

Marta in the host lab

Did you have a personal mentor or anyone who particularly helped you?

I thank everybody who supported me in this placement. I should express a great gratitude for my mentor in this placement, postdoc research fellow Dorian Forte, a worderful person and specialist. Dorian shared a lot of experience about science and career planning. Fellowship and Awards Officer, Laura Kendrick, for her patience, understanding and timely support.

Have you learned any specific knowledge or technique that could benefit your home lab in future?

I learned how to work better with cell culture, western-blotting and flow cytometry. I practiced a lot about isolation and separation of extracellular vesicles. This is a very favorable sector for future prediction of disease.

How has the trip inspired you, either in your research or otherwise?

This exchange showed me our weaknesses in the education system, helped me to grow my professional networks, and improved my tools and knowledge.

A short summary of Marta’s current research: I’m a first-year resident doctor in internal medicine in hospital, which I combine with research work. I have a strong interest and passion in field of hematology  and explore the topic “Warburg effect and SOD activity modification in mice model of NK/Ly lymphoma “. My research is about how changes the activities of metabolic enzymes of tumor cell during the treatment by different therapeutic agents and how this changing can effect for survival potention. Activity of SOD control one of the most important system in cells – oxidant/antioxidant system. In my research work, we try to modificate activity of this enzyme by combining different therapeutic agents in different regiment.

Want to find out more?

To find out about our Ukraine Grants, please click here for more information: EACR Ukraine Grants.