06/08/2021 • Doctor Irene MacAllister has closed her research internship at the University of Defence Faculty of Military Health Sciences. The research stay of Dr. Mac Allister was implemented through the Exchange of Engineers and Scientists program under the auspices of the US and Czech Ministry of Defense (The Partnership for Peace Status of Forces Agreement (NATO SOFA)). This is the first such stay of a prominent NATO military scientist in the Czech Republic, although this program has existed since 1995, when an agreement was signed on 19 June in Brussels, Belgium, to enable this type of cooperation across all NATO member countries.
Dr. Irene E. Mac Allister came for more than a year of internship, just shortly before the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic wave to strengthen the scientific team of the Department of Molecular Pathology and Biology, Faculty of Military Health, University of Defense in Hradec Králové and transfer their scientific know-how to Czech colleagues. She has a long-term scientific profile as a biochemist at the US Army Engineer and Research Development Center (ERDC) in Champaign, Illinois. At the same time, she worked on the campus as an Associate professor at the Medical faculty of the University of Illinois for more than seven years, where she led research projects of undergraduate students.
The Department of Molecular Pathology and Biology at FVZ UO in Hradec Králové is primarily engaged in research into high-risk biological pathogens, where Francisella tularensis (F. tularensis) historically came to the fore as an intracellular bacterium, which is included in the list of highly dangerous biological weapons. The basic idea of the involvement of Dr. Mac Allister to the scientific team of the Department of Molecular Pathology and Biology consists mainly in the transfer of know-how of an American researcher to the University of Defense with an overlap to other institutions of the military type. The exchange of know-how and scientific potential is a fundamental and invaluable contribution for any scientific institution for its future development and scientific direction.
Dr. Mac Allister was involved in selected scientific projects of this department, focused primarily on the study of the intracellular life of this bacterium in relation to the host, the protection of the host against this bacterium, or the study of biological interactions. Its involvement can be seen primarily in the development of a purification method for the isolation of PilA surface protein isolated from a highly virulent strain F. tularensis subsp. tularensis SchuS4. Thanks to a number of methods, which can include molecular biological methods, the study of post-translational modifications, liquid chromatography combined with mass spektrometry, or in vivo studies in an animal model, Dr. Mac Allister has succeeded in obtaining purified protein with a purity more than 97 %, which allows further research focusing primarily on research and development of protein subunit vaccines.
Author: Klára Kubelková