Welcome to: Harold Gutch and Pavel Kopcil
NCMM welcomed two new staff members in October: Harold Gutch, Senior Engineer, IT and Pavel Kopcil, PhD student, Haapaniemi Group
NCMM warmly welcomes our new team members, Harold and Pavel.
Harold Gutch, Senior Engineer, IT
Harold joined NCMM in October 2020 and will work primarily on the Centre's computer servers. Harold is employed by USIT but will be an integral part of NCMM's IT team.
Harold has a German diploma in pure mathematics and has publications in applied mathematics. Over the course of his career, he has worked closely with computational neuroscience labs and departments.
Harold has been involved in the day-to-day operations of research computing for over a decade, at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization (Göttingen, Germany), at the University of Texas, Austin (USA) and at MIT (USA). He thus has many years of experience with some of the scientific software used at NCMM (e.g., Python, R, MATLAB and machine learning tools like PyTorch) and is looking forward to learning more about the software used at the Centre.
Outside of academia, Harold has been actively participating for more than 20 years in a non-profit computer club in his home town in Germany as a systems administrator and, to this day, acts as the regional technical contact. Harold is a self-proclaimed geek who likes to solve mathematical puzzles and programme games, and to tinker with older hard-and software in his spare time. To this day, two of his favorite games are Monkey Island and Super Mario World. He enjoys playing chess, even though he has not played in clubs in a long time.
One day he would like to become a bit more proficient in Japanese.
Pavel Kopcil, PhD student, Haapaniemi Group
Pavel joined the Haapaniemi group as a PhD student in October. Pavel graduated from the Biology Programme (Medical Genetics and Molecular Diagnostic) at Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic in 2018. He completed his master thesis at CEITEC (Central European Institute of Technology) also in Brno, which involved working on the generation of CRISPR/Cas9 - edited cell lines to decipher roles of 2 different genes, RASAL3 and CD20, respectively.
As part of an ERASMUS+ Internship at the Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Denmark, Pavel joined the lab of Rasmus Bak and started experimentation with the editing of primary cells (cord blood-derived hematopoietic stem cells, CD3+ T cells and plasmacytoid dendritic cells) using various CRISPR tools and approaches (knock-out, activation and inhibition of gene expression). Pavel received an offer to join an epigenetic lab back in the Czech Republic at the end of the year of 2019 to establish a CRISPR-based platform for DNA sequence-specific methylation/demethylation changes to study resistance to chemotherapy in ovarian cancer. Pavel joined the Haapaniemi group at NCMM in October this year as a PhD candidate to further broaden his skills and knowledge in the gene therapy field.
PhD project at NCMM
The main task of his PhD project revolves around precise therapeutic gene corrections in selected loci that cause different immunodeficiencies in humans, especially in childhood. To do this, Pavel will employ three CRISPR-based platforms for precise correction. He will mostly be working with hematopoietic stem cells from healthy and patient donors. Pavel recently finished UiO's Course in Animal Research, so in vivo work will also be a huge part of his project.
Edited cells have to be without any genome or transcriptome alterations in order to be completely safe for any therapeutical applications. Therefore, through his research, Pavel will subject the edited cells to single-cell sequencing to pinpoint any major discrepancies across the lab's platforms and/or unedited cells.
The ultimate goal is to establish and provide a safe, efficient and feasible way towards clinical transition and clinical settings.