Victoria Menendez Benito
I completed my PhD at Karolinska Institutet in 2006. After that, I did a postdoc at the labs of Prof. Neefjes and Prof. van Leeuwen at The Netherlands Cancer Institute. Since 2014, I am a PI at the department of Biosciences and Nutrition at KI.
I am interested in understanding the basic principles that allow cells to partition their chromosomes, organelles, and proteins during cell division. I use budding yeast as a model organism and combine classical genetics, microscopy, and cell biology. My current research lines are:
- Molecular mechanisms of chromosome congression. During cell division, sister chromatids align at either side of the spindle equator. This process, known as chromosome congression, contributes to the equal segregation of chromosomes. To achieve chromosome congression requires the coordinated action of microtubule regulatory proteins. In my lab, we have recently discovered that the plus-end tracking protein Bik1 (the budding yeast homolog of CLIP-170) plays an essential role in chromosome congression. We are investigating the molecular mechanisms of Bik1 and its interplay with kinesins and other microtubule-binding proteins.
- Asymmetries of the budding yeast spindle pole bodies (SPB). The centrosome duplicates in a semi-conservative manner, each cell division generates two centrosomes that differ in age, composition, and function. In budding yeast, mother and daughter SPBs (the functional equivalent of centrosomes) have different ages. In my laboratory, we are searching for age-dependent post-translational modifications of the SPBs and evaluating their role in regulating cell cycle progression.
- Protein inheritance during asymmetric cell division. Asymmetric dividing cells use their polarity to unequally segregate cellular components (including organelles, proteins and RNAs) between daughter cells. This mechanism allows cells to propagate fitness and specific traits to individual progeny. However, a global view of the proteins with asymmetric inheritance and their link with lifespan is still lacking, partly because birth-dating and following proteins at cellular resolution is technically difficult. In my lab, we address this challenge using a genetic method named recombination induced tag exchange (RITE), which allows visualizing protein inheritance in budding yeast by microscopy.
Along with my research activities, I contribute to the education of students at both undergraduate and graduate levels.
My teaching style is influenced by my experience as a researcher and supervisor. I have trained one student technician; seven master's students, and I am currently the principal supervisor of two doctoral students.
Overall, I teach diverse topics in the classroom, including cell biology (cell cycle), the fundaments of laboratory methods (molecular biology, gene editing, real-time PCR, high-throughput microscopy, and image analysis) and scientific communication. I regularly teach in the courses "Applied Communication in Biosciences" (Master's program in Biomedicine) and "Genetics, genomics, and functional genetics" (Biomedicine Bachelor's Program). Furthermore, I am an evaluator of the project proposal and examiner of the oral presentations in the "Degree Project Course" (Master's program in Biomedicine). Besides, I have directed a PhD course, The Cell Cycle", and frequently lecture in other PhD courses at Karolinska Institutet.
To bring effectiveness and meaning to the teaching and learning experience, I focus on three goals:
- Promoting active learning by designing learning activities where the students can directly apply the concepts and theory.
- Training the students in critical thinking skills by using inquiry-based instruction.
- Fostering learning through effective communication and collaboration by designing learning activities based on group work.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) (2006) “The ubiquitin-proteasome system during proteotoxic stress”, Karolinska Institutet
Bachelor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2000), University of Oviedo (Spain)
Bachelor of Chemistry (1998), University of Oviedo (Spain)