Kenan Krakovic, a third-year student at Burch University Department of Genetics and Bioengineering as part of the Amgen Scholarship Program, spent the summer at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm (Sweden). This program selects the most prominent students from all over Europe to participate in first-hand research during the summer. The host institutions of this program are the University of Cambridge, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, ETH Zurich, LMU Munich and the Pasteur Institute in Paris, and this summer experience ended with the meeting of all students who attended the traditional Amgen Scholarship Symposium at Cambridge University. This experience led Kenan to launch the first Fly Lab in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This lab will be at our University.
Can you tell us more about the importance of the Amgen Scholarship Program for you and your scientific development?
The program is very competitive, and I worked hard to make my application as strong as possible. I had the privilege of having professors on my side like Assist. Prof. Dr. Lejla Smajlovic -Skenderagic and Assist. Prof. Dr. Monia Avdic, professors who recognized my work and acted as my reference professors. During my stay in Stockholm, I worked in a wonderful team of scientists who put a lot of effort into improving a potential cure for Alzheimer’s disease. They have developed a small capsule that is surgically placed in the brain and has a prolonged release of chemicals which is thought to be lacking in the disease. I joined the team the moment they tested what role this specific molecule called plasmin plays in disease, and this was actually my project. The two months spent at the Carolina Institute were incredible, full of support from my mentors as well as other students who participated in the program. Participation in this program gave me the confidence to try something new at my home university, and I came up with the idea of Fly Lab.
What is Fly Lab and what preceded your idea for founding a lab?
Fly Lab is a project we will be implemented by the end of this academic year. It will basically be a small lab that will conduct research on common fruit fly well known to geneticists around the world. The fruit fly is probably the most important organism model for research in genetics and related fields, as evidenced by 6 Nobel Prize winners. As a genetics student, I come across a fruit fly quite often in books and it has become a bit of a mystery why there is no such laboratory in Bosnia and Herzegovina, given its importance and the tools already developed for its use. The idea of the Fly Lab was presented by Assist. Prof. Dr. Amina Kurtovic-Kozaric, who is a real expert in this field of research. To my great pleasure, the professor gave full support to the project and agreed to focus my bachelor thesis on this area of research, and that it should be based precisely on the fruit fly. So, you see, I like to put myself in these challenging situations and now I really need to start this project, otherwise I will not have a topic for my bachelor thesis.
How is the Fly Lab project progressing so far?
I am happy to say that we have done a lot in a short period of time, given the relative timelines that need to be done in our country. So far, we have managed to secure space for a laboratory at Burch University, and with the help of colleagues from the Association of Biology Students in BiH, we have obtained funding for the first microscope. While we look forward to some potential collaborations, we have set up a Gofundme Crowdfunding campaign in the meantime so anyone can get involved in creating this unique laboratory in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
How can those willing to help support the Fly Lab project?
Anyone who would like to financially support the project with a donation can do so via the linka
The Gofundme campaign has greatly speeded up and facilitated the process, and anyone who wants to help can do so by clicking “Donate” and enter their card information.
„I was joking with my friends recently that we would have a Fly Lab if all my Facebook friends quit smoking for a day. The power of the collective should always be respected because a lot can be achieved through small individual contributions,ˮ concluded Kenan.
We are proud of our Kenan and International Burch University and we will proudly support the establishment of a Fly Lab that will be of great importance not only to Burch students but also to all other Genetics and Bioengineering students in BiH, but ultimately to our country and beyond, since such laboratories do not exist in all countries of the region.