Distinguished Scientist: Polina Shcherbakova, Ph.D.

February 03, 2016

Image with caption: Polina Shcherbakova, Ph.D.

Polina Shcherbakova, Ph.D.

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored at a ceremony for UNMC's 2015 Scientist Laureate, Research Leadership, Distinguished Scientist and New Investigator Award recipients.

The Distinguished Scientist Award

The Distinguished Scientist Award -- which is sponsored by the chancellor -- recognizes researchers who have been among the most productive scientists in the country during the past five years.

  • Name: Polina Shcherbakova, Ph.D.
  • Title: Associate professor, Eppley Institute
  • Joined UNMC: 2003
  • Hometown: I was born in Moscow, grew up in Chernogolovka, a small town in the suburbs of Moscow, and lived for 10 years in St. Petersburg before moving to the United States.

Research focus:
DNA replication and mutagenesis

Describe your research briefly in layman's terms.
Cancer results from genetic mutations. We study the mechanisms by which these mutations arise.

How does your research contribute to science and/or health care?
Our studies improve the understanding of the mechanisms underlying the high frequency of mutations in cancers. In the long run, this will help design strategies to control genomic instability, reduce cancer incidence, delay progression and improve the therapy outcome.

What is the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you, professional or personal?
I never was particularly good at following other people's advice. If I need to name one, early in my assistant professor years, Ken Cowan gave me a book "At The Helm: A Laboratory Navigator" by Kathy Barker. I found it to be a wonderful source of advice for a variety of tasks and situations that a beginning PI encounters. Highly recommend this book to everyone learning how to lead a research lab.

List three things few people know about you.

  • Prior to studying biology at St. Petersburg University, I have considered professions of an astronaut, an actress and a physicist, and was even admitted to the School of Physics of the University of Tartu (Estonia), one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe, with a major in theoretical physics.
  • I wrote several piano pieces.
  • I don't know how to operate the TV in my house.


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