NCMM visits EMBL Headquarters in Heidelberg

Ieva Rauluševičiūtė is a Doctoral Research Fellow in the Mathelier group at NCMM. She recently spent one month with the groups of Dr Judith Zaugg and Dr Arnaud Krebs at the EMBL Headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany.

Ieva outside of EMBL in a dark jacket
Ieva Rauluševičiūtė outside the EMBL Headquarters in Heidelberg Photo: EMBL Photolab/Massimo Del Prete

Ieva's PhD project studies how transcription factors (TF) bind to DNA. She was one of the main drivers of the recent update of JASPAR, a popular open-access database of transcription factor binding profiles. 

Collaboration across the EMBL partnership

At EMBL, Ieva collaborated with Dr Krebs’ group to learn about the new data they generate from single molecule footprinting experiments to assess TF-DNA interactions at the molecular level. These particular experimental data and methods of analysis are relevant for one of her PhD projects, where she is working on identifying cooperative binding of TFs to the DNA. Single molecule footprinting allows a deeper dive into TF cooperativity at single-molecule resolution. 

The second part of her visit was also related to the analysis of transcription regulation through TF cooperativity. She collaborated with Dr Zaugg’s group to investigate TF cooperativity in human immune cells using the computational method she is developing at NCMM. The goal of the project is to reveal TFs acting as collaborative partners to add a layer of knowledge onto immune cells gene regulatory networks derived by researchers in Dr Zaugg’s group. 

NordForsk funded the research visit

The visit has been invaluable for the development of Ieva’s PhD project. She was able to get interesting preliminary results using the data from the Krebs group. In addition, Ieva presented her research on multiple occasions and was able to get helpful feedback on her work from researchers in both visited groups. Ieva will continue to collaborate on further analyses with the groups in the future.

Ieva’s visit was funded by NordForsk, an organisation under the Nordic Council of Ministers that provides funding for and facilitates Nordic cooperation on research and research infrastructure. Funding of 2.5 million NOK  was awarded to the Nordic EMBL Partnership by NordForsk as part of their ‘Nordic Research Infrastructure Hubs’ initiative in 2020. The grant enables a further strengthening of molecular medicine in the Nordic countries through the Nordic EMBL Partnership. It also enables the Partnership to better exploit its distributed infrastructures, whilst improving their accessibility and facilitating better knowledge exchange to ensure contemporary approaches in molecular medicine. Commenting on her visit to EMBL, Ieva said:

These kinds of opportunities are very important for a researcher. Due to the global pandemic, I did not have opportunities to go to conferences and interact with researchers besides online talks and seminars, so this was a really amazing chance to connect and work with great researchers at EMBL for a full month.  Beside the scientific relevance, such visits are important for networking reasons – others will remember you more after such a visit rather than from an email that you sent! In addition, you get to see how other labs work, what research areas they are focusing on and what methods they are using.  These visits also help you to exercise critical thinking and science communication skills because you need to describe and explain your research. Moreover, you can get input on your work from other people and participate in important scientific discussions.