MRC Senior Research Fellowship for Natalia Gromak

7 November 2023

Trinity Tutorial Fellow in Medicine Natalia Gromak has been awarded a prestigious Senior Research Fellowship by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

The five-year fellowship will support her research group’s investigation of R-loops in health and disease. These unusual nucleic acid structures are surprisingly common in genomes, and are composed of an RNA/DNA hybrid and a single strand of DNA. Formed in all living organisms, they can occupy 10% of the human genome under physiological conditions. R-loops have emerged as important regulators in biological processes as diverse as transcription, DNA replication, generation of antibody diversity, epigenetics and DNA damage responses. Their research focuses not only on the fundamental molecular processes mediated by these R-loop binding factors, but also their relevance to rare neurodegenerative diseases such as Aicardi-Goutières syndrome and Friedreich’s Ataxia.

On her appointment, Dr Gromak said: ‘This fellowship will enable us to look much deeper into fundamental mechanisms of R-loop biology in physiological conditions and in disease. I am excited because this research will also open up translational opportunities for therapeutic drug development for currently incurable neurodegenerative disorders. Many thanks to everybody who contributed to the work forming the basis of this fellowship programme and also a big thanks to our collaborators and many R-loop enthusiasts across the globe.’

Dr Gromak is an expert in RNA biology and her research aims to uncover the mechanisms of gene regulation in humans in health and disease, in particular the molecular basis of neurodegenerative diseases, associated with pathological R-loops. In addition to her academic success, she consults for companies such as Pfizer and Vertex.