5. Sept. 2023
Structural biologist Petr Tesina joined CEITEC Masaryk University at the beginning of July 2023. Petr Tesina´s research focus is translation control, more specifically quality control response to aberrant translation using cryo-EM. Petr joined CEITEC MUNI after over six years long postdoctoral fellowship at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich.
What are the scientific questions you wish to address at CEITEC MUNI?
I will focus on two main areas, both regarding translation control. One is the focus of my ERC research project, in which I want to investigate how and why mutations in ribosome-associated quality control factors lead to neurodegeneration. This research aims to unravel the underlying mechanisms that tie these mutations to such critical health outcomes. The second main area is the research of mechanisms that are used by viruses to affect human translation and translation control to promote their replication. This part has a dual motivation as it may potentially reveal novel therapeutic strategies to tackle viral infections but also help us to capture and understand some tricky host targets, which have remained elusive so far.
What were the main reasons for you to join CEITEC MUNI?
CEITEC Masaryk University is THE place to do cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) in Czechia. Cryo-EM is the primary method to study the macromolecular complexes involved in translation control and here CEITEC really offers cutting-edge infrastructure and expertise. Also, I was attracted by the professional and ambitious approach of CEITEC. In short, CEITEC knows what it wants to become and strives towards this goal with the knowledge and professionalism of an established western institution. It is not the rigid self-centered environment one would expect from a Czech university and I believe it is one of the best places to do science in the Czech Republic.
What are the most important skills/experience you acquired during your career so far?
Besides the obvious skills required to do research in structural biology, I mostly appreciate the experience of having worked in multiple European countries (England, Belgium and Germany) in multi-cultural environments. Navigating through diverse communication styles, problem-solving approaches, and collaborative dynamics provided great lessons in adaptability and resourcefulness. I started with manual labour jobs and ventured to England several times over the years to work at farms, warehouses and such during summer holidays at high school and university. This has been a treasure trove of life lessons and skills. The most important ones would probably be resilience, self-sufficiency and the ability to appreciate physical labour and the luxury of having a creative job with a lot of freedom. It has also been very humbling at times, which I very much appreciate looking back.
What other things would you like to learn and explore here at CEITEC MUNI?
So far, I am exploring the vast expanse of the campus itself and learning the internal systems of the University and their peculiarities. I really hope to expand my competencies in the whole management part of the job. This is a bit of an uncharted territory to me, as you do not get much training in this area during your career as a doctoral or post-doctoral researcher. I am eager to gain insights into professional management practices because I am convinced it would help me to drive projects more efficiently and facilitate smoother teamwork and collaborations.
How do you envision an ideal workplace?
It would be the combination of the best aspects of various workplaces I previously worked at. I would love to have the professional communication I enjoyed in Western Europe combined with the friendly and relaxed atmosphere intrinsic to the Czech culture. The crucial aspect is getting beyond the critical mass of knowledge and skill within the team at the same time. Afterall, it’s all about the people in the team, who really define the workplace. And since building the right team seems to be enough of a challenge, I hope we won’t be limited by any external factors such as the science funding cuts planned by the government.
Are you planning to hire a new team? What type of people or skills will you be looking for?
Most definitely. I mean, this effort cannot be solitary; it's a collective endeavour that requires passionate, curios minds. And as I just mentioned building a cohesive team is paramount. I am hiring on all levels at the moment, so if anyone is interested in joining my research team, please, do not hesitate to reach out. I am looking for people interested in translation with skills in molecular biology, biochemistry, human cell cultures or structural biology. I should stress here, that previous experience in any these areas will be considered a plus, so it’s not a list of requirements. What truly makes you stand out is the genuine enthusiasm and a clear idea how you want to contribute to our mission.
How do you like Brno so far?
Brno is a new chapter for me and my family. I have to say so far, I am quite pleasantly surprised. My family and I are enjoying some of the nice facilities Brno has to offer to enjoy the summer here in terms of sports, swimming and attractions for kids. I was also impressed by the quality of the public transport system with the convenient pay-by-card system I have only seen during my time in London. I am also very much looking forward to discovering some of the natural beauty nearby such as the Moravian Karst. Moreover, Brno offers some great beer and it’s a short ride away from Vienna or Prague.
How do you recharge energy after work?
I am an avid admirer of beauty in all forms, from modern art and street art, through music and architecture to nature and its creations. I love to travel and explore, especially in Southeast Asia, which has a special appeal to me. This immediately reminds me of great Asian food, which I love to cook as well as enjoy eating. I am a huge fan of science fiction, especially its cyberpunk subgenre and I love to watch good sci-fi series and read books or graphical novels and manga. I practise yoga to sustain my physical shell and hope to resume my bouldering beginner efforts, which were cut by the Covid pandemic.
About Petr Tesina
Petr Tesina is a highly skilled structural biologist with a diverse educational background, extensive research experience, and a proven track record of contributing to cutting-edge scientific endeavours. He earned his PhD in Structural Biology at Charles University in Prague, specializing in Molecular and Cell Biology, Genetics, and Virology.
In his professional career, Petr has made significant contributions as a postdoctoral researcher at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich. His research projects, under the guidance of esteemed group leaders Prof. Roland Beckmann and Prof. Mario Halic, have been pivotal in advancing our understanding of structural biology. His dedication to advancing the field of co-translational quality control using cryo-EM is enhanced by his enthusiasm for mentorship and scientific leadership. In September 2023, Petr Tesina was awarded an ERC Starting Grant to investigate the role of co-translational control in neural tissue.