14. June 2024

Today, scientist Václav Šeda from CEITEC Masaryk University (MUNI) officially received a prestigious junior grant during the opening ceremony of the European Hematology Association (EHA) Congress in Madrid. This EHA grant is one of the most prestigious awards in the field of hematology research and the news of its award confirms that Czech science has a significant position at the international level.

Václav Šeda's project focuses on the investigation of the GAB1 protein and its role in resistance to chemotherapy in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). This research could lead to the development of new therapies to increase the success rate of treatment for this aggressive disease. Václav Šeda is trying to find out how the GAB1 protein contributes to chemotherapy resistance in AML cells and whether their inhibitors could be used in combination therapy.

"AML is an extremely heterogeneous disease with different subpopulations of cells that differ in their characteristics. Leukaemia-inducing stem cells are particularly problematic because they are partially resistant to chemotherapy and can cause disease relapse," explains Václav Šeda. "We hypothesise that increased levels of the GAB1 protein help these cells to maintain their resistance properties, which is why we are exploring the possibility of using our GAB1 inhibitors."

Marek Mráz, the head of the research group at CEITEC, who also works at the University Hospital Brno, received the same grant ten years ago after returning from the USA and has contributed significantly to the support and development of the project of Václav Šeda, who works in his research group as a postdoctoral fellow. "When I saw the results of Václav's experiments, I knew they had great potential. I suggested that he tries applying for a junior EHA grant, which supports even very risky research," says Marek Mráz. "Receiving the grant is an exceptional recognition of Václav's research, as it is only awarded to 2–5 haematologists per year across the continent," he adds.

The grant process was very challenging and involved several rounds, including a presentation to a committee of 15 hematology experts. The entire procedure was intensive and included an administrative review, an assessment of the project's interest, a review by four external reviewers, and a final defence before the committee, which tested the applicants' knowledge of the project topic and the sophistication of the planned experiments with questions. Šeda was greatly assisted in the preparation of his application by the CEITEC MUNI grant office, which guided him through the approval processes and ensured the necessary formalities in record time.

The grant brings financial support of 50,000 euros per year for three years. Although this amount may not be essential for the research, the prestige associated with this award is extraordinary as it recognises originality and innovation in research. There are only two recipients of this grant in the Czech Republic so far, both from the same laboratory at CEITEC MUNI, which is a testament to the excellent level of research in the field of hematology at CEITEC MUNI.

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