Visitor of the Week: Jonathan Trujillo


Meet Jonathan Trujillo of the Rudolf-Virchow Center for Experimental Biomedicine (Germany). The Colombian national is a PhD student part of the GSLS (Graduate School of Life Sciences) of the University of Würzburg and member of Dr. Grzegorz Sumara’s lab. Jonathan made the transatlantic voyage to participate in his first CSHL meeting – Mechanisms of Metabolic Signaling – where he presented a poster entitled “Protein Kinase D2 promotes intestinal fat absorption and contributes to diet induced obesity”. Jonathan’s poster presentation “went very well [with] lots of questions and suggestions. [He’s] happy to see how people liked [his] project. It provided a personal and academic boost.”

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
I work in the investigation and characterization of kinases involved in the development of metabolic diseases. Most of my work focuses on kinases regulating important processes in intestinal fat absorption and adipose tissue biology.

How did you decide to make this the focus of your research?
Metabolic diseases are widely spread and research in that specific area is necessary in order to understand and help to improve many conditions. I find it fascinating, and at the same puzzling, how the crosstalk between organs maintains the body’s homeostasis and misregulations can significantly affect quality of life.

How did your scientific journey begin?
I studied Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Antioquia in Colombia and I started working immediately after graduation. I liked my job very much, however, I knew I wanted something more. I wanted to be directly involved in the process of making the discoveries that enabled the development of the pharmaceuticals I was producing. I moved to Germany to pursue my Master’s degree and it was then that my interest in metabolism began. Luckily after successfully defending my thesis, I was offered a PhD position in the same group – an opportunity I didn’t hesitate to take.

Was there something specific about the Mechanisms of Metabolic Signaling meeting that drew you to attend?
The CSHL meeting in Mechanisms of Metabolic Signaling is very well-known. It received very good recommendations from people I met in other conferences and even from my own boss and colleagues (who have attended before). I had someone high expectations of the meeting and in the end it is better than expected.

What is your key takeaway from the meeting?
Collaborations and maintenance of a good scientific network are of great importance if you want to make the best out of your research projects. I think it is very evident that in such a diverse field of research you need people from different backgrounds to increase the scope of your discoveries. This meeting is a great opportunity to listen and speak with speakers who would otherwise be very hard to meet. Topics involving gut microbiota, brown adipose tissue and fat mobilization are my favorite but, in reality, I have enjoyed every talk.

What did you pick up or learn something from the meeting that you plan to apply to your work?
I knew that my project was in need of microbiome analysis and I got some really good recommendations that I will pursue.

If someone curious in attending a future iteration of this meeting asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
I would totally recommend it. I have had a great time here. Actually, before coming I had wondered if I would feel comfortable coming alone but the social atmosphere is great and there are plenty of opportunities to socialize and talk about science or many other topics. This is a great opportunity for anyone no matter his/her scientific career stage.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
The meeting is very well planned: The days are busy but they don’t feel crowded or exhausting. Accommodation and food are great, and everything is geared to help meeting attendees be in a good mood. Of course, I would also agree with everybody else’s sentiments that the Lab’s location and surroundings are fantastic.

Thank you to Jonathan for being this week's featured visitor. To meet other featured scientists - and discover the wide range of science that takes part in a CSHL meeting or course - go here.