Logo Helmholtz Munich

Young Investigator Merit Award for Michal Mastalerz

Early-career scientist investigates impact of cigarette smoke on the epithelial cells in the lung


The ‘Young Investigator Merit Award’ 2021 by the Research Training Group ‘Targets in Toxicology’ at LMU Munich goes to PhD student Michal Mastalerz (Staab-Weijnitz Lab). This award is endowed with funds of a total of 50.000 EUR consisting of a 6 months post-doctoral position and project-related consumables. On November 26, at the occasion of the GRK symposium, Mastalerz was awarded one of two Young Investigator Merit Awards and presented his work.


In ILBD's Staab-Weijnitz' lab Michal Mastalerz is working on cigarette smoke as a contributor to many chronic lung diseases. He has set up a methodology to validate cigarette smoke exposure systems of airway epithelial cells, the first line of defense in the response to cigarette smoke. Using this methodology (see publication below), Michal found that two exposure settings using cigarette smoke extract were similarly effective as whole cigarette smoke exposure. 

Michal has now applied this model which led to the identification of several novel cigarette smoke-regulated proteins and pathways. Using this preliminary data, he successfully submitted a proposal for the Young Investigator Merit Award to investigate function and effects of these novel cigarette smoke-induced mechanisms in more detail and more complex culture systems. 

Michal Mastalerz is PhD Student in the Class of 2018/2019 at CPC Research School and is also fellow of the DZL Academy, an initiative of the German Center for Lung Research for young scientists.

The Research Training Group “Targets in Toxicology - Deciphering Therapeutic Targets in Lung Toxicology” was founded 2018 and is a structured Ph.D. program which brings together twelve research partners in the Munich region. Principal investigators from the LMU Munich, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Technische Universität München, and the Bundeswehr Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology have teamed up to acquire an in-depth mechanistic understanding of toxic lung injury and to develop the new concept of “precision toxicology” in acute and chronic toxic lung injury.

Read more in the publication:
Mastalerz M et al, AJP Lung 2021, Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology