Maria Górna

Maria Górna, Ph.D.

Head of the Structural Biology Group

I graduated from the interdisciplinary MISMaP programme at the University of Warsaw, combining biotechnology and chemistry. Next, I trained in structural biology during PhD studies at the University of Cambridge and a short research stay at SGC at the University of Oxford. Over the course of my postdoctoral work at CeMM in Vienna, I collaborated with systems, chemical and computational biologists and medical geneticists on a number of projects related to innate immunity, leukemia and some rare genetic conditions. In 2015, I returned to structural biology and Poland to help establish a protein crystallography laboratory at the newly opened BCRC and our Department of Chemistry. Since then, I visited USA and UK for short sabbaticals/training in cryoEM and membrane protein crystallography as a Fulbright and EMBO fellow. I established the Go!RNA Structural Biology Group which leads both applied and basic research projects thanks to funding from multiple international and national funding bodies. I also helped establish our Crystallography and Biophysics Core Facility, as well as served as an expert for industry and on the MCAA Board.

My broad interest is in using three-dimensional structural models to explain protein function: e.g. the molecular mechanisms in RNA metabolism from viruses or bacteria to humans, or identifying the role of mutations underlying human diseases. I have also developed a passion for trying to translate my research findings into useful inventions through protein engineering and repurposing.

Research positions and degrees

Current positions:

Since 2016 Leader of the Structural Biology Group, Biological and Chemical Research Centre, University of Warsaw;

Since 2015 Assistant Professor (Adiunkt), Department of Chemistry, University of Warsaw;

Past research experience:

10.2018-03.2021 Expert, WPD Pharmaceuticals, Warsaw, Poland

01-02.2020 Fulbright Visiting Scholar, Jean-Paul Armache laboratory, Eberly College of Science, Pennsylvania State University, USA

05-07.2015 Visiting researcher (EMBO ASTF), Membrane Protein Laboratory, Diamond Light Source, Harwell Science & Innovation Campus, UK

2010-2015 Postdoctoral Fellow, Giulio Superti-Furga group, CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria

04-05.2010 Visiting collaborator, Stefan Knapp group, Structural Genomics Consortium, University of Oxford, UK

Education and degrees:

2006-2010 PhD student in Biochemistry and Marie-Curie Early Stage Researcher (EU FP6), Ben Luisi group, Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, UK;

2002-2006 Master's in Biotechnology (and Theoretical Chemistry), College of Inter-faculty Individual Studies in Mathematics and Natural Sciences (MISMaP), University of Warsaw, Poland;

2004/2005 Socrates-Erasmus exchange student, Georg-August Universitaet, Goettingen, Germany;

2001-2004 Bachelor in Biotechnology, Faculty of Biology, University of Warsaw;

1997-2001 Experimental mathematics class (Matex A) , XIV Liceum im. Staszica, Warsaw

Awards & grants

2023, Rector's Award for scientific achievements, University of Warsaw

2023, Scientific Award, Department of Chemistry (Rector's Award II degree), University of Warsaw

2023, WEAVE UNISONO grant, National Science Centre, Poland

2022, OPUS 21 grant, National Science Centre, Poland

2021, listed by Kobiety Forbes Women 2021 among the top 100 inspiring women in Poland

2021, L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science scholarship award 2020, L’Oréal Poland

2019, Fulbright STEM Impact Award, Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission

2018, FIRST TEAM 5/2018 grant, Foundation for Polish Science

2017, Fellowship for outstanding young scientists, Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Poland, #0707/E-343/STYP/12/2017

2015, EMBO Installation Grant

2015, LIDER VI grant, National Centre for Research and Development, Poland

2015, SONATA 8 grant, National Science Centre, Poland

2015, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship, H2020

2015, 2016 Grant for young researchers (DSM), University of Warsaw

2015, EMBO Advanced Short-Term Fellowship, #235-2015

2015, FEBS Journal Poster Prize, Conference "Multi-Pole Approach to Structural Science", Warsaw, PL

2009, Clare Hall Bursary, University of Cambridge, UK

2009, General Travel Grant and publication of a Traveller's Tale, The Biochemical Society, UK

2008, Qiagen Poster Prize, Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, UK

2006, Cambridge European Trust Honorary Scholar

2006, Marie Curie Host Fellowship for Early Stage Researchers within ChemBioCam RTN (EU FP6), Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, UK

2006, BBSRC PhD studentship (declined in favour of the above)

2004, 2005, 2006 (annually), Studentship of the Polish Minister of Science/Education for outstanding achievements in study

Other selected activities

Since 2023, Associate Editor of the European Review (published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Academia Europaea)

2022, 2023 TopMinds Mentor, Top 500 Innovators/Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission

2021 - 2028 Member of the Young Academy of Europe

2021 - 2024 Member of the University of Warsaw Scientific Council for Biological Sciences

2018 - 2020 Board Member, Marie Curie Alumni Association, EC-funded non-profit

2016, Founding Chair of the Polish Chapter of the Marie Curie Alumni Association

2009, Participation in the 4th SciFoo coorganized by Nature, Google and O'Reilly Media, at Googleplex, Mountain View, CA, USA

2005/2006, President of the Student Society of Genetics and Epigenetics (KNGiE), Faculty of Biology, University of Warsaw (2003/2004, co-founder and vice-president)

Since 2020, Remote Evaluator, European Commission expert number: EX2015D236921

Since 2020, Collaboration on behalf of the MCAA Policy Working Group and EMBO with the Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE), e.g. contribution to discussions about Horizon 2020, Widening Countries, ISE position papers on Horizon Europe (2021) (2023), ISE recommendations towards FP10 (2023)

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