Read other profiles:
Frida Belinky | Michael Y. Galperin | Ayal Gussow | Sanjarbek Hudaiberdiev | Eugene Koonin | Igor B. Rogozin | Itamar Sela | Svetlana Shabalina | Sergey Shmakov | Yuri Wolf | Natalya Yutin
|Question||Anastasia Nikolskaya, PhD||Guilhem Faure, PhD||Erez Persi, PhD|
|In lay terms, what is the focus of your NLM research?
||My focus is on searching for and analyzing novel biosynthetic gene clusters in bacterial genomes as part of a collaborative effort to discover novel antibiotics. My work on the evolution of the influenza virus involved using phylogenetic and epidemiological analysis to monitor and analyze changing trends in influenza worldwide.||My research involves the study of both proteins and RNAs—their interactions, structures, sequences, and how they evolve in different systems. I am currently focusing on the protein translation system and the CRISPR-Cas system.||Species and cancer evolution.|
|Why is your research significant, in your opinion?||Discovering novel antibiotics becomes one of the top priorities as resistance to the old ones rapidly spreads among pathogenic bacteria.||Machinery involving both RNAs and proteins perform a myriad of crucial roles in almost every aspect of cell growth, regulation, and even immunity. The intimate relationship between RNA and proteins performs complex functions triggering a lot of interest for biotechnologies. Several of them remain elusive and many are not discovered yet.||Understanding the evolutionary dynamics of tumors will help to prevent them and cure them. Insights from species evolution are critical to understanding cancer evolution and vice versa.|
|What or who inspired you to pursue your career?||While in elementary school, I had an aquarium and read a book about fish breeding that explained Mendel’s laws. These struck me as beautiful and profound and shifted my interest from animals in nature to the underlying mechanisms of life.||During middle school, I discovered biology and had the chance to follow courses taught by the most enthusiastic biology teacher I ever had. For numerous questions each student had, he would drive us outside in nature (one day exploring a river, one day the specific flora of a volcano, etc.) to find the answers on our own. He gave me the eternal passion to pursue my career in biology, and even as young as I was, to become a researcher. All along my career, I’ve been lucky to meet extremely talented people constantly nourishing my passion for biology.||Physics is my inspiration, and I consider what I do “modern physics.” Beyond that, I pursue my own ideas following extensive reading of the literature, once I identify gaps in our knowledge.
Researchers who affected and inspired me the most are Prof. David Horn, Prof. Carl van-Vreeswijk, Prof. Eytan Ruppin, and Prof. Eugene Koonin.
|How did you get started in your career?||I started in “wet bench” research and then realized that computational analysis was more rewarding for me.||I started my research career as a volunteer intern in a virology lab attached to a hospital during my second year of university. Between wet lab experiments, in a corner of the bench lab, my PI showed me sequence alignments and motif annotations—my first steps into computational biology. This was a turning point in my career, since I had just gotten my degrees in biology and statistics independently. I moved to another university to specifically learn computational biology.||As a physicist in statistical mechanics, tuned to computational biology. I started my career as a computational neuroscientist and gradually changed my focus to bioinformatics, molecular evolution, and cancer research.|
|What really gets you jazzed about science and research?||The unknown. Human generations linked by adding new knowledge to the common trove, each providing a foundation for the next ones.||We are living in an exciting era where scientific breakthroughs occur several times a year! Every day, I am thrilled to address new challenging questions in order to learn more about life, about me, and interact with fantastic people. NLM/NCBI is a unique place to do science!||Finding fundamental truths about the behavior of biological systems and solving unsolved problems.|
|If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what else might you be doing?||Archaeologist
Mystery story writer
|A music composer. I am so passionate about music. I studied classical guitar for 15 years, and it was a dilemma to decide between biology and music. However, science and music are not so distant, and I use my creativity daily to compose my research!||I can’t imagine it.|
|Tell us something surprising about yourself.||One area of science that I follow as a “hobby,” because I find the developments fascinating, is research into early humans in general and Neanderthals and early modern humans in particular.||I love photography, especially portraiture. I can spend weeks studying all parameters—both technical and human—and eventually compose my shot as a “reflection” of the model.||After science, wave surfing is probably my biggest passion in life and then playing my guitar.|