Top performance in CAPRI (Critical Assessment of PRedicted Interactions) and CASP (Critical Assessment of Protein Structure Prediction) competitions
A team of bioinformaticians from the VU Life Sciences Center - Česlovas Venclovas (team leader), Justas Dapkūnas and Kliment Olechnovič – participated in CASP14 and CAPRI competitions running in parallel in summer of 2020. The team shared the first place jointly with two other groups in CAPRI and were ranked second in the category of protein complex structure modelling in CASP. The same team was the first in both CASP and CAPRI competitions in 2018.
CASP is a biennial worldwide experiment for protein three-dimensional structure prediction from its amino acid sequence taking place since 1994. The aim of CASP is to help advance the methods of computational protein structure modelling. More than a 100 research groups from all over the world participate in CASP and objectively test the accuracy of protein structure prediction methods developed by the research groups. CAPRI is another community‐wide initiative inspired by CASP and running since 2001. CAPRI is focusing entirely on prediction of structures of protein complexes.
More about the experiments:
L’Oréal Baltic For Women in Science Fellowship Programme
In 2020, we greeted with pride two young scientists, Rima Budvydytė and Dominyka Dapkutė, who were given fellowships of the L'Oreal Baltic program For Women in Science.
In 16 years’ time, since the L´Oréal Baltic For Women in Science fellowship programme has been established, 60 talented women scientists in the Baltic countries were awarded. The aim of this program is to encourage young talented scientists to continue their research and to honour their contribution to social progress, as well as to inspire more young women to choose a career in science.
Rima Budvytytė, a senior researcher at VU Life Sciences Centre, was recognized for her research that focuses on investigation of biochemical and biophysical processes triggering neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s on molecular level. Her project aims to investigate the interaction between disordered proteins and phospholipid membranes that may lead to the understanding of the causes of neurodegeneration and the development of new therapies and new diagnostic methods to diagnose them at the earliest possible stage of the disease.
Dominyka Dapkutė, a doctoral student in biophysics at the VU Life Sciences Centre and a junior researcher at the Laboratory of Biomedical Physics of the National Cancer Institute, was recognized for her research into the ways of introducing nanotechnology-based teranostatic measures (combining diagnostics and therapy) into the cancerous tissue by using unique cells of the human body, mesenchymal stem cells. These interdisciplinary studies address the current gaps in cancer diagnostics and treatment and can make a significant contribution to the ongoing fight against cancer, as well as provide innovative insights at the fundamental level.
The Grand Prize in (iGEM) Competition in 2020
The Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM team won the grand prize and became the best iGEM team in the largest and the most prestigious International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM) in 2020. In addition to the Grand Prize of the competition, VU students won gold medals and were nominated in 8 additional prize categories, becoming the winners also of the Best Environment Project and Best Measurement.
The Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM outdid more than 250 teams from universities around the world, including teams of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University as well as William & Mary University and many other prestigious universities.
In this year’s competition Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM team presented the FlavoFlow project dedicated to the topic of exogenous fish infections. It is estimated that infections caused by Flavobacterium genus bacteria can kill about 70% of fish in fish farms in just 72 hours. For this reason, it is essential to identify the pathogen as accurately and quickly as possible. To solve this problem the team developed a rapid detection tool for early diagnosis of diseases in fish farms. At the same time, seeking to lay the foundations for various solutions to the problem, the Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM team focused on the development of platforms for the treatment and prevention of exogenous fish infections.
Lithuanian representatives have been participating in the iGEM competition since 2015. In 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019 Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM team won gold medals, in 2018 also bronze medal by undergraduate team and in 2017, like this year, the Grand Prize of the competition.
2020 iGEM Team students: Eglė Vitkūnaitė, Auksė Kazlauskaitė, Austėja Sungailaitė, Edvinas Jurgelaitis, Emilija Radlinskaitė, Emilis Gaidauskas, Liepa Šiupšinskaitė, Kamilė Liucija Vainiūtė, Paulius Sasnauskas, Monika Gineitytė, Barbora Vasiliauskaitė.
Team leader: Ieva Lingytė
Primary PI - Rolandas Meškys
Instructors: Denis Baronas, Povilas Šėporaitis
Advisor: Paulius Toliušis