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Researching new substances for wound treatment – Interview with Kaja Turzanska, PhD student at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

What is your current research focus?

For my PhD project, I am studying BODIPY chemicals. BODIPYs (4,4-difluoro-4-bora-3a,4a-diaza-s-indacene) are physiologically stable fluorophores used as bioimaging probes or photodynamic therapeutic agents in anticancer applications. They are also appealing as new antimicrobial agents for local applications. Unlike antibiotics used to kill bacteria, these compounds are mediated by singlet oxygen produced by light. Among them, I am looking for the best candidates with antimicrobial activity. 

What applications might this research have in the commercial market? 

BODIPY could help treat wounds in diabetic foot patients in particular. Because the mechanism of action of BODIPY compounds involves the production of singlet oxygen, drug resistance does not develop as quickly. Along with the use of antibiotics, doctors could also apply BODIPY compounds topically to the wound and irradiate with an appropriate lamp. This could shorten and improve the wound healing process for patients. 

What led you to the decision to pursue a doctorate?

It all started with a dream to work in a laboratory. I considered choosing between pharmacy and cosmetology. I decided to pursue a career in cosmetology. Then I started studying at the Silesian Medical University in Katowice. After that, I completed a one-year postgraduate course in microbiology at the University of Warsaw. The topic of my master’s thesis was the importance of cosmetic plants in the process of wound healing. And it actually influenced me to continue my research related to infected wounds. I was looking for a PhD program where I could continue my research. 

What are your impressions of studying a PhD programme at the Royal College of Surgeons?

I have very positive overall impressions of the PhD project at RCSI. The project takes place in a very research-friendly atmosphere. I have a close-knit team that includes not only microbiologists at RCSI, but also chemists from Dublin City University who are preparing BODIPY compounds for us. We hold regular meetings with my team where important issues related to the project are discussed. I was very positively surprised by the openness to proposing new ideas and the broad opportunity to test them.

Editorial Board’s Note: Individuals holding a doctoral degree have a pivotal influence on the development of social capital due to their specialized knowledge and profound expertise in their field. Additionally, opting to pursue a doctorate abroad opens up various possibilities and advantages. Access to world-class research infrastructure facilitates professional growth by providing access to advanced scientific resources and enhancing the quality of research. Individuals with international experience returning to their home country bring not only a wealth of knowledge and skills acquired abroad but also fresh perspectives and insights into diverse issues, including in the context of the market.

Kaja Turzanska
Written by:

Joanna Rancew

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