Scientist and teacher: Students in Slovakia can gain an education as good as abroad

30. Dec 2022 at 21:34 I Premium content

Ľubomír Tomáška is this year’s ESET Science Award laureate.

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Without exceptional teachers, students will get nowhere. Ľubomír Tomáška is a scientist and educator who tries to pass his experience on to new generations of students at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Comenius University in Bratislava.

He is this year’s ESET Science Award laureate in the category Outstanding Academic in Slovakia. As part of his work Ľubomír Tomáška also studies ways how cells communicate.

What is the communication between cells like? Is it something people would say to each other?

Sometimes we liken them to human communication, but it is more of an anthropomorphic metaphor.

So what mechanisms do they use to communicate?

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In order for a body to function, it is necessary for the cells comprising it to coordinate together activities such as metabolism, division, differentiation and even death. This coordination is ensured through complex communication networks, within which cells send various chemical, electrical, mechanical signals, and at the same time have sensors that can detect these signals and interpret them.

Furthermore, the cells themselves are not just some vessels full of chemicals, but sophisticated structured entities with a complex infrastructure. This means various physically and functionally connected departments, which we call organelles. Their activities must also be coordinated with each other. This is done by sending different messages reporting about the state of the respective part of a cell.

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In your research you also study the end sections of DNA molecules in chromosomes. Why?

The ends of chromosomes, or telomeres, are particularly susceptible to damage that can result in major changes in DNA, which often lead to oncogenesis. We are looking for the tools that cells use to protect the telomeres, or signals by which a cell informs others of problems with telomeres.

How can we imagine telomeres?

Telomeres can be likened to the protective, reinforced end on shoelaces that protect them from fraying. When this protection is lost, the laces gradually lose their function.

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