User:Orsolya Kiraly

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Orsolya Kiraly, PhD

Life scientist with 5+ years’ experience with cell-based assays and animal models, and the management of research projects across cultures and locations. Recognized for the ability to drive projects forward by efficient planning and coordination, anticipating problems, and skills in hands-on research work.

Proven record to improve processes and work independently and in teams to achieve expected results, demonstrated by developing and executing streamlined animal experimental protocol resulting in study finished 5 months ahead of time and at >50% reduced cost.

Research design, planning and execution

  • Designed and successfully performed projects with bacterial, cell-based and animal models in 4 laboratories, resulting in 8 peer-reviewed scientific publications and 3 manuscripts in progress.
  • Small animal handling & dosing, fluorescence microscopy, digital image processing & analysis, flow cytometry, recombinant DNA methods, protein expression & purification, cell culture and transfection, Western blotting, experimental design & data analysis, problem solving, accurate record keeping, laboratory management, teaching & mentoring, scientific writing, database management, goal oriented, strong organization, communication and time management skills, experienced with working under time pressure and fast-changing project priorities.

Teamwork, coordination and supervision

  • Collaborated with engineers, technicians, clinical researchers, biologists, physicists, government lab administrators, financial administrators, and safety and animal facility personnel in a total of 8 projects
  • Worked in teams ranging from 2 to 17 people from diverse backgrounds and cultures in Europe, the US and Asia
  • Planned & coordinated 7 projects, 3 of them simultaneously

Communication, reporting and presentations

  • Prepared written reports and research plans for principal investigator, funding agencies and collaborating laboratories
  • Gave presentations to funding agencies, scientific audiences and the general public

Training and mentoring

  • Trained coworkers in experimental & analysis methods which were adopted by animal research team
  • Mentored an undergraduate student in research design and methods. The student was accepted into the graduate program of her choice and became a co-author on finished manuscript.
  • Taught recombinant DNA technology at the undergraduate level in 20.109 Laboratory Fundamentals of Biological Engineering (core undergraduate course for bioengineering students at MIT). See some course material here.
  • Teaching Certificate from the MIT Teaching and Learning Laboratory

Administration, record keeping and regulatory

  • Developed SOPs for animal research team
  • Planned, prepared and updated IACUC protocols. Animal study proceeded without delay throughout 5-year project.
  • Successfully handled extensive administration load for repeated research runs at US government laboratory. All runs were completed within schedule and without problems.

Scientific projects

FYDR pancreas small.tif

My current work is about genome rearrangements (large-scale mutations), which can lead to cancer

I received my PhD for work on how mutations in pancreatic trypsin inhibitor cause inflammation. In the Engelward Lab, my work is aimed at genome rearrangements in the pancreas in vivo.

Genome rearrangements are a hallmark of cancer cells. They can be deletions, inversions or duplications that can drive cancer by activating oncogenes or inactivating tumor suppressor genes. Rearrangements can form by homologous recombination (HR), which is an important DNA repair/tolerance mechanism but can lead to genetic changes.

Using a transgenic reporter mouse, we have found that the formation of HR-driven rearrangements is governed by an interplay of genes, environment and tissue physiology. This is an example of gene-environment interactions and may be used to identify people with a higher risk for cancer. Further, we found that inflammation, a major cancer risk factor, induces HR-driven rearrangements through increasing both DNA damage and regenerative proliferation.

These findings have led to the generation of an advanced reporter mouse for use in ongoing studies on HR-driven genetic changes, and a collaborative project at SMART developing mitigators of inflammation-induced tissue injury.

Past projects

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Functional effects of sequence variants in promoters, introns, and protein-coding regions

  • In the laboratory of Miklos Sahin-Toth at Boston University, I determined the functional effects of patient-derived mutations in SPINK1, the pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor. Inhibition of trypsin activity by SPINK1 is important because trypsin activity can result in the activation of other digestive enzymes in a cascade reaction, which can lead to cell damage and pancreatic inflammation. We found that signal peptide mutations abolish the secretion of SPINK1 into pancreatic juice, and a set of coding region mutations cause misfolding of the protein which is then degraded intracellularly and is not secreted. In patients with these mutations, spontaneously activated trypsin is thus not inhibited by SPINK1, eventually resulting in autodigestion and inflammation.



Research papers

See them on PubMed

Citation Index on Google Scholar

Book chapters

Kiraly O, Guan L, Sahin-Toth M. Expression of Recombinant Proteins with Uniform N-Termini. In: Ming-Qun X, Evans T (Eds): Heterologous Protein Expression in E. coli, Methods in Molecular Biology 705, Springer, Berlin, 2011, pp. 175-194.

Nemoda Z, Kiraly O, Barta C, Sasvari-Szekely M. Pharmacogenetic Aspects of Dopaminergic Neurotransmission-Related Gene Polymorphisms. In: Darvas F, Guttman A, Dormán G (Eds): Chemical Genomics, Marcel Dekker Inc., New York, 2004, pp. 275-313.



Just another lab door at Brookhaven National Lab, where I was a user of the NASA Space Radiation Lab

Laboratory tools and resources

Useful links

Good books

Books in Central Square, Cambridge, my home for 7 years
  • The Suffering Gene is a very readable book about the various environmental exposures that can damage DNA
  • At the End of an Age by historian John Lukacs is not a scientific book, but it contains a deeply informed reflection on the nature of historical and scientific knowledge. Read a shorter essay on this here