Victoria Menendez Benito
I am a cell and molecular biologist. 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. From 2014, I worked as a PI at BioNut (KI), studying protein quality control and cell division. I am also an engaged educator. I have trained undergraduate and graduate students in the lab and taught within the biomedical study line at KI. Currently, I am a lecturer at LabMed, teaching at the Biomedical Laboratory Science (BMA) program and continuing my work in cell and molecular biology.
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 teach within the biomedical study line in four main areas: biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, and laboratory methodology.
I organise and teach Bachelor Biomedical Laboratory Science (BMA) and Dentistry programs courses. I am also an examiner of the final research project presentations in the Master in Biomedicine program. I contribute as an invited lecturer on molecular biology techniques in the Bachelor in Biomedicine. I have directed and co-directed PhD courses (“The Cell Cycle” and “Fluorescence Microscopy: High content image acquisition and Analysis”) and lectured at the PhD course “Microscopy: Improve your imaging skills - from sample preparation to image analysis”. Furthermore, I train research students in the laboratory and have successfully supervised two doctoral and four master theses and trained three short-term master students.
My teaching philosophy is based on my excitement for the biomedical sciences, my deep care for the success of my students, and my wish to provide students with analytical skills and critical thinking that will serve them in whatever career path they choose. 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 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)