Kenan Kraković will join the Harvard Medical School Research Lab

IBU InFocus

Kenan Kraković completed his undergraduate studies at IBU's Department of Genetics and Bioengineering and was named valedictorian. He continued his master's studies in Europe thanks to a great scholarship based on his numerous academic achievements. Erasmus Mundus Joint Degree scholarship includes a joint program called International Master in Innovative Medicine, which is an integrated study program between three higher education institutions: Heidelberg University (Germany), Uppsala University (Sweden), and Groningen University (Netherlands).

Currently, I am a student of the Erasmus Mundus Joint Degree Masters in Innovative Medicine. I spent my first year of the master's at Heidelberg University in Germany and am now in my second year at Uppsala University in Sweden.

During my first year, I performed a 5-month research project at Heidelberg University, during which I was creating mini-organs (called organoids), in this case, liver organoids, to see if they could be used in studies of viral hepatitis.

This past semester I have spent in the lab of one of the most cited researchers in the world in the field of neuropharmacology, prof. Helgi Schioeth. Here, I worked on developing novel protocols to test short and long-term memory in Drosophila melanogaster (the common fruit fly), said Kenan about his work.

Always on the lookout for new challenges, Kenan was drawn to an interesting article about the consequences of sleep deprivation. Based on this article, he decided to contact professor Dragana Rogulja, which resulted in an incredible collaboration in which Kenan will join prof. Rogulja's lab at Harvard Medical School.

Last year, I read a neuroscience paper published in one of the world's top journals, Cell, that blew my mind. We knew that extreme sleep deprivation leads to horrible organism damage and eventually death.

This paper clearly showed that the main damage sleep deprivation does is a huge inflammation located in the gut. It also showed that, if you can clear out this gut inflammation, lifespan can be prolonged to normal length, even if the animal is still super sleep deprived. The inflammation results were later confirmed in experimental mouse models.

Having been fascinated by the paper, I contacted the professor who is leading the lab, prof. Dragana Rogulja, and inquired about the possibility of performing research in the lab. We soon had an interview and to my pleasure and excitement, I got the position. I will spend the next 6 months or so investigating the molecular mechanisms of damage induced by sleep deprivation in the fruit fly.

"It is thrilling for me to be able to work on that topic in a group that is making strong contributions to the field, and I cannot wait for my trip to Boston in the next few days", said Kenan.

We wish Kenan the best of luck in his future research and education as he pursues a career as a neuroscientist.