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Visiting researcher profile: Dr Stepana Boukalova

2 November 2018

Hailing from the Czech Academy of Science's Institute of Biotechnology, Dr Stepana Boukalova has recently spent the last few months at the Malaghan Institute as postdoctoral research fellow in Professor Mike Berridge's cancer cell biology team

Completing her PhD at Charles University, Prague, Dr Boukalova studied the relationship between structure and function of transient receptor (TRP) ion channels - essential components of cellular metabolism. In 2014 Dr Boukalova joined Professor Jiri Neuzil's group, researching the role of mitochondrial metabolism in cancer. Prof Neuzil has been an important and long-time collaborator of the Malaghan Institute cancer's programme, with this relationship focused primarily on the mitochondrial transfer work headed by Prof Berridge which has gained international excitement and recognition. 

The majority of Dr Boukalova's work has been looking at how tumours and tumour cells 'respire'; the ways in which cells get their energy in order to grow and remain alive. She recently presented a summer of her work at the Malaghan Institute in a presentation titled 'The activity of dihydrootate dehydrogenase (DHODH) is indispensable for tumour formation'. In research that parallels aspects of Malaghan's cancer research, her work examined cells that were lacking in mitochondria (the part of the cell required for energy production) and how that affected tumour formation. Her work determined that DHODH, a protein found in mitochondria, is an essential component that allows tumour formation, and that cells lacking DHODH were unable to form tumours.

While she is at the Institute, Dr Boukalova's work is focused on determining the implications of mitochondrial transfer in different cancer models, with her skills and expertise forming an invaluable partnership with our collaborators at the Institute of Biotechnology.