Dr Danuta Mariola Jeziorska
Postdoctoral Research Scientist, The MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (MRC WIMM), University of Oxford
Danuta showed an interest in biology from an early age; however, molecular biology truly caught her attention at the end of her A-levels. To follow her passion, she studied Biotechnology at the Silesia University in Poland and volunteered as an intern in Molecular Diagnostics and Radioimmunology Laboratory in Maria Sklodowska-Curie Cancer Centre & Institute of Oncology. In contrast to the cool kids at university, her idea of a fantastic break was to run gels and isolate DNA in the lab. As a result, it was Danuta’s idea of a dream holiday to spend her summers as an intern in the Functional Genomics Laboratory at the Wolfson Institute of Biomedical Research at UCL, working under the supervision of Georgy Koentges and Keith Vance.
Inspired by her summer experience, she accepted a PhD offer from the same lab to study transcriptional regulation of the Hes1 gene in myoblasts. She identified new regulatory elements of that gene and engineered destabilised fluorescent reporters to monitor Hes1 transcription dynamics in living cells.
After completing her PhD in Systems Biology from the University of Warwick, Danuta joined Doug Higgs’ lab at the MRC WIMM to study how genes are turned on and off during red blood cell formation. Her work is focused on two aspects of that process: DNA methylation and transcription dynamics. She has defined the mechanism of DNA methylation mediated intragenic CpG island silencing and has also developed a model system to monitor in real-time transcription dynamics of an individual gene in living cells. She believes that this system will allow her to answer fundamental questions in the field of transcription and is keen to progress her career in this direction.
Outside the lab, Danuta is combining her academic background with her strong interest in innovation and entrepreneurship by leading the Oxford branch of Innovation Forum: a non-profit global network that aims to accelerate innovation by strengthening connections between academics, industry and healthcare professionals.
“Thinking about the translational impact of research helped me see the bigger picture of my scientific work and brought more passion to what I do.”
Danuta is also very passionate about supporting women in the academic and entrepreneurial ecosystems. She is a member of the directors board of TechTonic that aims to address the lack of support for women in the technology sector in Oxfordshire. She is also a member of the WIMM Women in Science Committee that aims to support, encourage and celebrate women scientists.
“Despite tremendous progress made by the previous generations, there are still issues surrounding equality of women in the work place. I believe that by understanding these barriers as well as bringing support, active encouragement, role models, alongside peer-to peer discussions will help us in achieving our career goals”.