Dr Monika Gullerova
Associate Professor, Senior Research Fellow CRUK, Group Leader
Sir William Dunn School of Pathology
Tell us a bit about your role
I studied molecular biology at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia, where I developed my passion for molecular biology and experimental oncology. After graduation, I moved to Vienna, Austria to conduct my PhD and to extend research interests in the basic science of transcriptional regulation.
In 2006 I joined Professor Nicholas Proudfoot’s laboratory in Oxford as Postdoctoral Fellow investigating functions of Cohesin and RNA interference pathways. During my postdoctoral studies I was awarded the L’Oreal/UNESCO Women in Science UK award and joined Exeter College as Staines Medical Research Fellow. Concurrently I conducted studies at Harvard Medical School and Kyoto University as a visiting fellow.
In 2013 I established my independent laboratory in the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology in Oxford, funded by MRC’s Career Development Award. My research group investigates DNA damage response, in particular how RNA mediates rapid and efficient DNA damage repair. I was awarded the Hugh Price Fellowship at Jesus College in 2015. More recently, I was awarded a prestigious Senior Research Fellowship by Cancer Research UK to fund my research on genome stability and its relevance to cancer.
This year I co-founded a spin out company, Kleidox Therapeutics, which aims to improve sensitivity to PARP inhibitors in cancer patients. I also work for the company as Senior Scientific Advisor and Non-executive Director.
I also work together with CRUK on another translational project, which involves novel silencing mechanisms that regulate expression of disease driving genes. CRUK Seed Award allows us to generate data supporting this mechanism in vivo in both cancer and non-cancer models.
My roles as scientist and entrepreneur fit well into the landscape of the Medical Sciences. I believe that excellent basic scientific research and the consequent discoveries are the key drivers of progress in development of new diagnostics, therapies and treatments.
What is the most meaningful aspect of your work?
Scientific discoveries. That is the most exciting and meaningful part of my work. Together with my team we are working hard to get closer to the molecular mechanisms that regulate cellular response to DNA damage in the most efficient way. This fascinating field is of great importance as it can provide a better understanding of many diseases including cancers. The knowledge from our basic research can then be further explored and applied to the development of novel therapies.
Can you tell us about something you've done, contributed to that you're most proud of?
I am very proud that I was able to establish, manage and fund my independent research group at the University of Oxford. We are generating data that provide new insights into RNA dependent DNA damage repair, which is becoming increasingly fundamental.
More recently I am very proud of founding a spin out company Kleidox Therapeutics together in the University and external commercial Investors. The aim is to apply what we have discovered in the laboratory to drug development and patient care. Finally, I am very proud to be a mother. No success can bring joy if there is no one to share it with.
What changes would you most like to see in the Medical Sciences in the next 100 years?
I would like to see more women in senior academic positions. This can only happen if the academic environment provides support to the extent that women stop seeing having a family as a burden that will negatively impact upon their career progression.
I would also like to see more support for translational research and especially for the academics who usually don’t have experience in pitching the ideas to the investors and business thinking.