The International Centre for Vaccine Science at the University of Gdansk (ICCVS) has new leadership. Rector of the University of Gdańsk Prof. Dr. Piotr Stepnowski has entrusted Prof. Natalia Marek-Trzonkowska the position of Director of ICCVS since January 2022. Prof. Marek-Trzonkowska was recommended by the International Scientific Committee supporting the Centre's activities and approved by the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP) to take up this position. "I am happy to undertake this role. In the near future we will undoubtedly face great challenges, such as ensuring the continuity of the Centre's work after the end of the project. However, knowing well the potential of the ICCVS team and their enthusiasm for scientific work, I am optimistic about the future." - says the Director.
The research conducted by Prof. Marek-Trzonkowska concerns the clinical application of immune cells. She is the author of numerous publications and patents, including the first application of regulatory T cells (Tregs) in the therapy of type 1 diabetes in children (Marek-Trzonkowska N et al. Diabetes Care 2012, PMID: 22723342). She did her postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago, USA, where she worked on pancreatic islet transplantation and conducted research on new methods for induction of immunological tolerance. She is the recipient of national and international awards, including two Scientific Awards for research on the clinical application of regulatory T cells (Tregs) granted by the European Federation of Immunological Societies (EFIS; Vienna and Glasgow), Kościuszko Foundation Scholarship, Polish-American Medical Society Award (PAMS; Chicago), Young Investigator Award from the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD; Istanbul), two scientific awards from The International Pancreas and Islet Transplant Association (IPITA; Prague) and the Scholarship of the Minister of Science and Higher Education for Outstanding Young Scientists.
Since 2018, she has been the leader of the Cancer Immunology Research Group at the International Centre for Cancer Vaccine Science, and served as the Acting Director of the Centre since June 2021. She is currently working on adoptive therapy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in collaboration with Prof. Witold Roman's team from the Department of Thoracic Surgery at the Medical University of Gdansk (MUG). "I want to use the experience I gained working with regulatory T cells to develop a new personalised therapy for lung cancer. I am convinced that this is possible with the ICCVS team and in close collaboration with the doctors at the University Clinical Centre of MUG. I have seen many times how barriers disappear when a multidisciplinary team works on a single problem and people from different countries and cultures cooperate with each other," says the director.
The International Centre for Cancer Vaccine Science was established at the University of Gdańsk in cooperation with the University of Edinburgh as part of the prestigious International Research Agendas Programme of the Foundation for Polish Science. For the establishment of the Centre, UG received funding of PLN 41,109,030 from the European Regional Development Fund (Operational Programme Smart Growth). In addition, in 2019 Prof. Natalia Marek- Trzonkowska and Dr. Irena Dapic obtained additional funding for the purchase of specialised research equipment worth PLN 7 427 591. Professors Ted Hupp (University of Edinburgh, UK) and Robin Fahraeus (INSERM, Paris) were the authors of the concept of the Centre and its first Directors.