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Barbara Schnitzer receives this year's Doctoral Thesis Award

News: Sep 22, 2022

Barbara Schnitzer’s thesis on the ageing of unicellular organism lays a foundation for finding the right way to not only live longer but also stay healthier longer into life. She has now been awarded the Faculty of Science’s 2022 Doctoral Thesis Award.

Barbara Schnitzer How does it feel to receive this year’s Doctoral Thesis Award?

“It feels fantastic. A doctorate is a personal and professional journey, full of ups and downs and hard work. Receiving this acknowledgement now for the work that I have done is extremely fulfilling and motivating, and I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to take this journey at the University of Gothenburg.”

Tell us about your research!

“In my research, I applied theoretical approaches to understand how biological cells accumulate damage, leading them to age. Cellular ageing consists of many processes that occur on different scales and that influence each other, which makes it a complex problem to investigate. Using mathematics, we built simplified models of these processes, which we then simulated on the computer. In this way, we learned more about ageing mechanisms and their interactions. Specifically, I developed mathematical models to understand how protein damage accumulates in yeast cells and cell populations and how it is intertwined with cellular signalling and metabolism.”

How might your research benefit society?

“Our society is increasingly older, which poses many challenges to us as individuals but also to society as a whole. Ideally, we would like to remain healthy as long as possible and skip the burden that age-related diseases bring to us. Learning how individual cells and cell populations age is an important step towards this goal. With my work, I hope I can take a small step forward in this direction by contributing with a mathematical perspective on protein damage accumulation as a driver of cellular ageing.”

What are you doing now?

“Right now, I am taking some months off to travel and explore more parts of Europe. Meanwhile, I am searching for a job in industry. I would like to move towards software development in medical technologies, where I see many exciting opportunities to contribute with both the technical skills and the interdisciplinary experience that I have gained during my doctorate.”

Award explanation

Barbara Schnitzer’s thesis contributes to a better understanding of ageing in unicellular organisms, moving the field toward large-scale models to investigate synergistic effects of multiple pathways on longevity and health span. In her thesis, Barbara developed the largest available mathematical model of yeast replicative ageing that connects three major ageing processes: damage accumulation, nutrient signalling and metabolism. The model is also validated for many protein knockouts and suggests intervention strategies that lead to prolonged health span, laying a foundation for one of the key priorities of UN sustainability goals – finding equitable solutions to ensure that we are not only living longer but that we are staying healthier longer in life. Barbara has worked alongside molecular biologists, showing very good coordination and planning skills. She has also demonstrated a strong will to take a leading role and maturity to drive the work forward in the multidisciplinary team.

About the Doctoral Thesis Award

The award is given for successful and innovative research presented in a well-written doctoral thesis. The author receives a diploma and an award. The award ceremony will be held on 17 November.
 

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Originally published on: science.gu.se

Page Manager: Tanja Thompson|Last update: 9/22/2022
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Print date: 2022-12-03

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