Clinical Proteomics GroupProf. Piotr Widłak Lab

History of the team

In 1998 after completion of his post-doctoral training at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas Dr. Piotr Widłak returned to Institute of Oncology in Gliwice and was appointed as vice-chairman of a newly organized Department of Experimental and Clinical Radiobiology (the Department was chaired by Prof. Joanna Rzeszowska-Wolny). When working with Prof. William Garrard and Prof. Xiaodong Wang at UT Southwestern Dr. Widłak was involved in a project resulting in discovery and initial characterization of the major apoptotic nuclease – DNA Fragmentation Factor (Liu et al . 1998 Research on apoptotic chromatin cleavage and degradation of nuclei in cells undergoing apoptosis was the major research objective of Widłak Lab since its establishment. Several granted projects (founded by Polish Ministry of Science) that were performed in collaboration with Prof. Garrard (NIH grant) resulted in in-depth knowledge on mechanism of action and regulation of the major apoptotic nuclease DFF40/CAD [relevant publications of the group]. Finalized projects allowed completing habilitation dissertation of Piotr Widłak (2001), and PhD dissertations of Magdalena Kalinowska-Herok (2008) and Jakub Hanus (2010).

Second main research topic of Widłak Lab concerned damaged DNA binding proteins and the role of chromatin structure in DNA repair. The research resulted in identification and characterization of several chromatin proteins that recognized and bound lesion-containing DNA [relevant publications of the group ]. Finalized projects allowed completing PhD dissertations of Joanna Łanuszewska (2005) and Monika Pietrowska (2005).

The group in 2006; from the left: Jakub Hanus, Magdalena Kalinowska-Herok, Lucyna Ponge, Piotr Widłak, Joanna Łanuszewska, Katarzyna Szołtysek, Izabela Kołodziejczyk, Monika Pietrowska


Current research activity of the group

Currently the research activity in Widłak Lab focuses on cancer proteomics. The group aims at identification and validation of novel proteomics and metabolomics markers with potential applicability in molecular diagnostics and monitoring of cancer. The group exploits mass spectrometry-based approaches. At the moment the group operate with MALDI-ToF/ToF and ESI-IT spectrometers coupled to nanoLC system (investment was financed in the frame of the Silesian BIOFARMA Project). Initially, projects focused on the low-molecular-weight fraction of serum proteome (analyzed were samples collected from patients treated because of breast, lung, head & neck, prostate and other types of cancer). The group has identified and characterized changes in serum proteome profiles that could be used for classification and early detection of cancer. Moreover, the group is interested in changes induced in human serum proteome and metabolome upon exposure to ionizing radiation (including research performed in the frame of European project OPERRA-VIBRATO). Other current projects are related to proteomic and metabonomic profiling of tumor tissue in classification of molecular sub-types of cancer (e.g. thyroid cancer). Most recently the group implemented technology of mass spectrometry-based tissue molecular imaging (MSI) in studies on molecular heterogeneity of cancer (intra-tumor heterogeneity) [relevant publications of the group in the field of clinical proteomics ]. Projects related to proteomics and mass spectrometry are performed in close collaboration with clinical units of Institute of Oncology in Gliwice, in cooperation with a group of statisticians and bioinformaticians from Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice (teams of Prof. Joanna Polańska and Prof. Andrzej Polański), and with a group of chemists from Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry in Poznań (team of Prof. Maciej Stobiecki and Dr. Łukasz Marczak). Results of already finalized projects allowed completing habilitation dissertation of Monika Pietrowska (2014) and PhD dissertation of Małgorzata Roś-Mazurczyk (2017).

The group in 2011; from the left: Karol Jelonek, Katarzyna Szołtysek, Patryk Janus, Magdalena Kalinowska-Herok, Iwona Domińczyk, Agnieszka Gdowicz-Kłosok, Sylwia Drzewiecka, Anna Walaszczyk, Monika Pietrowska, Piotr Widłak, Lucyna Ponge.

Second field of research interest in Widłak Lab are molecular mechanisms of cellular response to stress. Currently the group focuses on functional interference between stress-induced signaling pathways which depend on HSF1, NF-κB and p53 transcription factors [relevant publications of the group]. Projects are performed in cooperation with biomathematicians who specialize in mathematical modeling of signaling pathways (team of Prof. Andrzej Świerniak and Prof. Marek Kimmel from Silesian University of Technology and Rice University in Houston). Results of these projects were included in PhD dissertations of Katarzyna Szołtysek (2012) and Patryk Janus (2013). Another topic concerned cardiotoxic effects of ionizing radiation. The research has been initiated in the frame of 7FP European project CARDIORISK. Observed effects of ionizing radiation on the heart tissue and cardiac endothelial cells have been a base for PhD dissertation of Karol Jelonek (2011) and Anna Walaszczyk (2014).

Most recently research interest of the group involves exosomes and their role in inter-cellular communication (topic introduced by Dr. Monika Pietrowska) [relevant publications of the group].


The group in 2016; from top left: Piotr Widłak, Agata Abramowicz, Iwona Domińczyk, Marta Gawin, Monika Pietrowska, Patryk Janus, Magdalena Kalinowska-Herok, Lucyna Ponge, Karol Jelonek, Małgorzata Roś-Mazurczyk, Katarzyna Szołtysek, Anna Walaszczyk, Wojciech Pigłowski, Anna Wojakowska.