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Oct. 23, 2015

Microbeams enter the life sciences

Réka Judit Bereczky, Foreign Postdoctoral Researcher

picture of Réka Judit Bereczky

Accelerator Applications Research Group, RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science

Please briefly describe your current research.

The goal of my research as a foreign postdoctoral researcher at RIKEN is to develop narrow beams of charged particles known as microbeams that can be used to expose cells to precise and targeted irradiation.

Obtaining a microbeam with well-defined characteristics is a complex process. My more recent work involves studying the profile and the spectra of the helium-ion microbeam produced by the RIKEN pelletron accelerator in combination with tapered glass capillaries. I also collaborate with other laboratories. For example, together with the National Institute of Radiological Sciences based in Chiba prefecture, I apply proton microbeam irradiation techniques to explore the signaling communication within targeted cells and between targeted and non-targeted cells. This study will bring new insights into radiation-induced cellular responses and will advance our understanding of the health risks associated with radiation exposure.

How did you become interested in this field?

During my PhD in physics, I did extensive research in the field of charged particle beam transport using glass capillaries. I was really interested in the possible applications of this process. In particular, the application to biological samples appeared as a very appealing field, since I also have a master’s degree in biology.

What made you decide to become a scientist?

Image of Bereczky at work

I was a very curious child and always wanted to understand how things work. I am grateful to my parents who encouraged me to develop this inquisitive nature into a passion for science. When I grew up I understood that science can be useful—even my own work, where I apply physics to biology, can produce helpful results for society. Maybe one day the output of my research will be used to cure diseases.

How and when did you join RIKEN?

I am from Hungary, and I joined RIKEN through the Foreign Postdoctoral Researcher program in September 2014. I first met my colleagues from the Ion Beam Breeding Team at international conferences. We engaged in several discussions and agreed that my experience in both physics and biology would make a valuable contribution to the research activity of the team.

What has been your most memorable experience at RIKEN?

My first tour of the laboratories at RIKEN was very impressive. Discovering all the available facilities, as well as the number and caliber of researchers, really gave me an idea of the outstanding research that is carried out here. A special memory, in between my professional and personal life, is the warm welcome I received from my closest colleagues. Their support helped me to overcome the difficulties of working so far from home and to become operational quickly.

Please tell us about your professional and personal goals.

I would like to establish my own research group in the future that can be a part of an international collaboration network. I am certain that the experiences I gain at RIKEN and the many scientists from different fields and countries whom I meet here will help me to achieve this goal. As personal goal I would like to bring happiness to myself, my family and the people around me, including through my work.