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Visitor of the Week: Alzbeta Dostalkova

Meet  Alzbeta Dostalkova of the University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague (Czechia). She is part of the lab of Dr. Michaela Rumlová within the Department of Biotechnology. The PhD student is at CSHL for her first-ever meeting – Retroviruses – and she immediately felt “professional and intimate environment to meet and discuss research with colleagues” for which CSHL meetings have become well-known. Alzbeta also presented a poster entitled “Quantification of stability effect of polyanions on assembly and disassembly of retroviral particles” that was met by many and produced many friendly and helpful discussions.

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
Generally, I am focused on the steps closely related with the assembly of retroviruses such as HIV-1 and M-PMV. I am working on uncovering the mechanism of viral genomic RNA incorporation to the assembling particle and next phase of my study is newly stability of the particles, especially of the core.

How did you decide to make this the focus of your research?
When I started to study, protein-RNA interactions was a very cool topic in the retrovirological world, so my supervisor and I decided to keep the focus on this theme.  And I really like it.

How did your scientific journey begin?
I have always wanted to help people and I thought that synthesis of drugs would be the right path for me So, at the university, I started studying the biotechnology of drugs. But then after a few months, I became interested in HIV-1 and the problems connected with this retrovirus. When I found out that I can be part of the lab studying HIV-1 and directly help to fight against it, I knew I found my goal.

Was there something specific about the 2019 Retroviruses meeting that drew you to attend?
I have dreamed of participating in this conference for years because it is attended by many of the retrovirologists want to meet. To read their papers and then have opportunity to meet and discuss with them their work is something I very much appreciate. The atmosphere at this meeting is that of a real retrovirological conference.

What is your key takeaway from the meeting?
I have heard a lot of very interesting lectures – by Akhil Chameettachal, Thomas J. Hope, Alan Rein, and Chaoyi Xu in particular – which will help me in my research.  In addition, the chance to meet others in my field. The world of retrovirology is full of very interesting and well-known researchers who  are also very nice people.

What did you pick up or learn from the meeting that you plan to apply to your work?  What did you pick up or learn from the meeting that you plan to apply to your work?  
I found out more facts about IP6. For example, IP6 plays a role during the trimerization of matrix domain of HIV-1 and IP6 promotes the dNTPs import. Moreover, the nucleocapsid domain contains the interfaces critical for Gag dimerization. I have also heard a few crucial facts about gRNA incorporation, uncoating etc.

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?
Go. Definitely. This is a prestigious conference which gives more than you expect. The data presented are high-level and excellent, and participating in the CSHL Retroviruses meeting helps ensure you are doing your retrovirological research correctly. And, to some degree, this meeting has a certain “cool factor” that rubs off on you.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
I like to walk here because it is beautiful! It is also a great setting for socializing and I have enjoyed talking with new and old friend.

Thank you to Alzbeta 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.