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MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded to Camila Vazquez Echegaray
alexis [dot] bento_luis [at] med [dot] lu [dot] se (Alexis Luis)
- published 19 April 2022
The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) fund excellent research and innovation. This March, the MSCA awarded €242m to the 2021 Postdoctoral Fellowships applicants – among them, a researcher from Lund University, Camila Vazquez Echegaray, aiming to uncover regulators of plasticity in cell fate decision.
The MSCA are the EU’s flagship funding programme for doctoral education and postdoctoral training of researchers. The MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships aim to support researchers’ careers and foster excellence in research. This March, the MSCA announced their post-doctoral fellowship awardees. From among the thousands of applications submitted, 1,156 experienced post-doctoral researchers where chosen, a researcher from Lund University, Camila Vazquez Vazquez Echegaray, PhD, was one of them.
Originally from Buenos Ares, Camila moved to Sweden in 2021 to join the Research Group on Cell Reprogramming and Immunity at the Lund Stem Cell Center, led by Principal Investigator, Filipe Pereira. “The Pereira Group works extensively in cell reprogramming in hematopoiesis and immunity. During my PhD studies, I became interested in stem cell research and the reprogramming of cells and wanted to continue to pursue this passion. There are still so many questions left unanswered, I just don’t see an end to the world of reprogramming,” said Camila.
The MSCA provides outstanding, individual researchers the opportunity to implement an original and personalized research project. For Camila, this fellowship means that she has the additional support required to move forward a project which is near-and-dear to her heart. The project named, rePlastic, aims to uncover novel genes, acting as regulators of plasticity, that are involved in cell fate decision and cell identity changes.
This will build on previous work by the Pereira Research Group, which has worked to answer questions regarding two of the three states of plasticity – the unipotent and multipotent states. The goal of her project is to shed further light on the definition of cell identity by looking into the positive and negative regulators of plasticity.
"To do this I will compare the different cell types used to represent three general states of plasticity, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), hematopoietic stem cells (iHSC), and dendritic cells (iDC), since they differ in their lineage commitment and interconversion capacity. At the end we hope to demonstrate what is being shared at the intersections of these three different cell states,” explained Camila.
She plans to use direct cellular reprogramming and CRISPR/Cas9 technology to provide more answers as to what makes a cell unique and what differentiates it to another type of cell. “I want to return to the basic questions of cell identity and cell plasticity, phenomena which we can observe in the cells, and how can we manipulate and maintain them. Essentially, how can we engineer cell fate and what genes do we need to induce or repress, to be able to lead the cells to a determined cell fate?” described Camila.
While challenges are likely to occur, Camila is ready to face them head on, knowing that she will be supported along the way. “I know there will be things to troubleshoot going forward but the end result, is what will keep me moving forward and I know I won’t be in this alone. The Pereira Group is a large group, and we support each other there. Also, the level of support provided by Lund Stem Cell Center, Lund University, the Wallenberg Center for the Molecular Medicine, still amazes me,” remarked Camila.
For Camila, a whole world of opportunities awaits over the next few years, not only with regard to the scientific discoveries to come, but also the opportunities for professional growth the MSCA postdoctoral fellowship offers.