February 2020: Maria Rohm

Maria's scientific work in one sentence

Understanding the molecular basis of metabolic dysfunction in cancer and metabolic diseases

Short CV

Highest Level of education: Diploma in Biology, 2009, University of Heidelberg 
Promotion: 2012, University of Heidelberg 
Actual Position: Junior Group Leader
Division Tissue Crosstalk in Cancer Metabolism

What is - in your opinion - your best publication?

Rohm M, Schäfer M, Laurent V, Üstünel BE, Niopek K, Algire C, Hautzinger O, Sijmonsma TP, Zota A, Medrikova D, Pellegata NS, Ryden M, Kulyte A, Dahlman I, Arner P, Petrovic N, Cannon B, Amri EZ, Kemp BE, Steinberg GR, Janovska P, Kopecky J, Wolfrum C, Blüher M, Berriel Diaz M, Herzig S. An AMP-activated protein kinase-stabilizing peptide ameliorates adipose tissue wasting in cancer cachexia in mice. Nat Med. 2016 Oct;22(10):1120-1130. doi: 10.1038/nm.4171. PMID: 27571348

What are your most important prizes?

Research Award of the German Society for Diabetes
Research Award of the German Society for Endocrinology
Lipidology Award

5 questions about research - past, present, future

1. What are your primary tasks and responsibilities in your actual position?
Three parts: Science management, science and admin. Management is the biggest point, including grant writing, paper writing, project supervision, revision/editing of manuscripts and grant applications, and participation in workshops or conferences. I am also still doing benchwork and run experiments myself. Lastly, I interact with various administrative sites to ensure smooth running of the scientific projects.

2. What is it that gives you pleasure and/or satisfaction the most?
I love most when pieces finally fall together. When after months of work, this last bit of information brings everything else in the right perspective. Be it a Western Blot in the lab or finding a new, relevant piece of information when writing a proposal or paper.

3. Which research question(s) affects you at the moment? What is its social significance?
I am currently most intrigued by the question how cancer-associated wasting happens, and how we can stop it. A large percentage of patients with cancer suffers from cachexia, and up to 30% of them die due to the wasting-associated complications. In short, patients lose weight, and nothing can stop it. How energy is lost, how and where metabolic reprogramming occurs, and how we can identify novel ways to target cachexia, are my major research questions.

4. Which publication influenced you the most?
The “bible” of my PhD and everything a good paper should be: Perissi V, Scafoglio C, Zhang J, Ohgi KA, Rose DW, Glass CK, Rosenfeld MG. TBL1 and TBLR1 phosphorylation on regulated gene promoters overcomes dual CtBP and NCoR/SMRT transcriptional repression checkpoints. Mol Cell. 2008 Mar 28;29(6):755-66. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2008.01.020. PMID: 18374649

5. What do you like most about the IDC?
I most enjoy the overall supportive and collaborative mind set of everybody and the friendly atmosphere. The institute is also particularly well organized, which often makes life so much easier.

5 questions above research

1. What are your experiences with reconciliation of family or private and working life?
Work life “balance” is sometimes not very balanced. But one extremely helpful aspect of my work is the flexible work hours and possibility to do home office when needed. This allows for some flexibility, for example when my son is sick.

2. What is the experience during your PhD you will remember all your life?
Working in 3sqm with 4 computers -  and 10 other girls. This forms ties for a lifetime, and extremely improves organizational skills

3. Which book and/or movie has lately affected you the most?
“The sudden appearance of Hope” by Catherine Webb.
This book is about the interwoven stories of the life of Hope, a girl nobody can remember, and the societal consequences of “Perfection”, a life style app monitoring all aspects of your life to make you a more perfect person.  

4. What are your hobbies?
Fantasy of all kinds (books, cinema, TV), snowboarding, hiking and camping, baking

5. What is your favorite color, season and/or football (or other sports) club?
I love all colors, the more the better, and therefore particularly enjoy spring, when nature becomes colorful once again. The first-of-the-year ice cream or beer in a beer garden always tastes best.