Raj’s defence took place on 21st June 2023. Raj joined the lab for his PhD in October 2017, though he was offered a position to start in 2016. Previously, he worked at the University of Nottingham, UK, where he did his Master of Research in Biosciences (Sustainable Bioenergy).
The defence started with a short introduction of a Ph.D. student by Dr hab. Sebastian Glatt. He admitted that Raj had taken a very challenging project, but due to his persistence and excellence he turned out this project into a huge success that resulted not only in publications but also great appreciation during scientific meetings. Dr hab. Sebastian Glatt emphasised that Raj is not only an excellent scientist but also a modest, friendly and helpful colleague and it was always a pleasure to have him in his team: both for great insights into the science and being a helpful and kind person.
In the next part, within 30 minutes Raj presented his work. He started by acknowledging his promotor for giving him the opportunity to work on this project and the reviewers for constructive comments and questions to his thesis. Then he briefly introduced the oxidative stress and cellular mechanisms protecting against it and then described what is known about ubiquitination and urmylation pathways. He presented his results consisting of crystal structure of Uba4 protein, Uba4-Urm1 complex, Ahp1 and urmylated-Ahp1. He showed proposed model of Uba4-Urm1 reaction cycle and presented new information on evolutionary aspects of thioester formation between all eukaryotic E1 enzymes and their respective UBLs. The presented work significantly contributes to the current understanding of Urm1-Uba4 interplay during oxidative stress. Raj finished his presentation expressing again his gratitude to his colleagues and friends and especially his wife Aswini. He dedicated his thesis to Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.
Following reviews from Dr hab. Grażyna Leszczyńska, dr hab. Marek Tchórzewski and dr hab. Wojciech Pokrzywa, it was emphasized about the excellence of the presented work. And due to the exceptionally high quality of presented research, all reviewers requested that the thesis be accepted with distinctions. Then Raj answered their numerous questions, and the following discussion proved how convenient and enthusiastic he feels about his research. The Committee unanimously accepted Raj’s defence of the doctoral dissertation and granted him a Ph.D. degree in the field of exact and natural sciences in the discipline of Biological Sciences. Moreover, the Committee unanimously voted for the thesis to be accepted with distinction.
Currently, Raj works as a post-doctoral fellow at the Structural biology of Cell Signalling team (The Guettler Lab) in The Institute of Cancer Research, Chester Beatty Laboratories, London, UK, where he will investigate the molecular mechanisms of the Wnt/beta-catenin signalling pathway in a number of different cancer types, most prominently in colorectal cancers.
Good luck Raj in all your experiments and projects, we already miss you!