From the depths of the ocean to the single cell

3 Questions for Anastasiya Grinko

Anastasiya Grinko has been a PhD student at the Helmholtz Institute Würzburg since 2023. In Emmanuel Saliba's group, she is exploring new avenues of single-cell RNA sequencing. By applying innovative techniques and combining them, she explores previously undiscovered depths.

Furthermore, Anastasiya, who earned her MSc in the “FOKUS Life Sciences” program at the University of Würzburg (JMU), is also dedicated to excellent teaching. For this, she has now been awarded the Biology Tutor Prize. This prize honors tutors who facilitate the introduction of new key qualifications, tutorials, or pre-courses as part of the "Quality Pact for Teaching” at JMU.

Your research focuses on ribonucleic acid, or RNA for short. What do you find fascinating about this molecule?

Even in the early stages of my bachelor's degree, I found myself listening to lectures on RNA with increasing interest. I'm fascinated by the versatility of this molecule and, above all, by the mystery behind it: only two percent code for proteins, while the remaining functions are still largely unexplained – somewhat like the depths of the ocean, about which we still know very little.

What are you working on at the Helmholtz Institute Würzburg?

My main focus is the analysis of data from single-cell analysis. I primarily employ long-read sequencing techniques, which enable the sequencing of long molecules. I am combining these techniques with a novel method called scSLAM-seq. This method shows within a few hours which genes are activated and to what extent.

My overall goal is to investigate different mechanisms during immune response and infection at the single-cell level. I am particularly interested in the distribution of the isoforms in the cells. These are different copies of the same gene that are ultimately translated into different protein structures. This process, also known as alternative splicing, is very important because it increases the diversity of proteins that a cell can form.

How do you spend your time when you're not in the lab?

In my spare time, I enjoy learning languages, playing the piano, and writing. Additionally, I meet up with friends for board or pen-and-paper role-playing games.