Prof. Dr. Tamara Lah Turnšek

Working place: Scientific Counsellor

Telephone number: +386 (0)59 23 27 03
Department: Department of Genetic Toxicology and Cancer Biology

Prof. Dr. Tamara Lah Turnšek obtained her PhD in 1981 at the Josef Stefan Institute with a Thesis in the field of protein biochemistry. She was employed there as a research for several period of time with intermediate longer visits abroad, first as post PhD candidate, advancing to Assistant Professor at the Dept. of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine at Wayne State University in Detroit. Later on she worked as Visiting Professor and Director of metastasis research at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After that she was committed herself to cancer studies, which she performed at Josef Stefan Institute and later at National institute of biology. From 1995-2018 she was the director of National Institute of Biology, where she established the Department of Genetic Toxicology and Cancer Biology and where she continues to work to this day.

During her early employment as MSci at the Paediatric Clinic, where Tamara Lah investigated hereditary metabolic diseases, she developed an interest for biomedicine and its clinical application. Later on, she cooperated tightly with the Division of Stomatology and Institute of Oncology and is currently collaborating with the Department of Neurosurgery, UKC. Professionally she is interested in biology of tumours (breast, lung, ovarian and brain tumours), but has recently focused on stem cells in relation to cancer in particular in glioblastoma.Besides glioblastoma stem cells, she is interetsed in mesenchymal stem cells as part of the tumour environment and as therapeutic agents in regenerative medicine and oncology. She performed clinical research of tumour biomarkers with aim of application in prognosis and prediction of the disease and in thos respect she was cooperating with pharmaceutical companies in USA (Oncogene Ltd) and Slovenia (KRKA and stil company Lek Sandoz-Novartis. Her  recent research has been dedicated to biomarkers of cancer stem cells as new therapeutic target in particular in glioblastoma stem cells. This was the subject of her many international links in Europe, and overseas in USA and Brasil.
Tamara Lah has published about 170 original scientific papers and reviews and 13 contributions to monographs, and many professional and publc articles,presnetations, interviews, etc.

BSEngineer: 1971 Chemistry,Faculty of Natural Sciences and Technology,(FNT),UL.
Msci:1974 Biochemistry, UL
PhD: 1981 Biochemistry, UL (in collaboration with Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

1985-2018 Director of the National Institute of Biology (NIB), Ljubljana
1990 - Scientific Councillor (Programe Leader since 2000)
2004-present Full Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (part time; Dept. of Biochemistry, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, UL
1996-2002 Assistant Professor Biotechnical Faculty, UL
1994-1996 Head of the Department of Genetic Toxicology and Cancer Biology NIB 1991-1994 Senior Research Associate – Assistant Professor Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Jožef Stefan Institute,
1988-1991 Director of Metastasis Research Albert Einstein Medical Center, 5505 Old York Road, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
1984-1987 Research Associate Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Jozef Stefan Institute
1979 1985 /1986 Research Associate and Visiting Assistant Professor Medicinska Fakulteta, Wayne State University Detroit, Michigan, USA
1975-1979 Research Associate Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Jožef Stefan Institute
1971- 1975 Research Assistant Clinical Laboratory, Paediatric Clinics of University Medical Centre

Tamara Lah is a member of several national and international professional and scientific societies, a member of EU Advisory Board and Committees in the field of Life sciences and biomedicine and has served as evaluator in EU projects.

European Association of Research Research (EARC),
European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), Pathobiology group (PBG)
Neurooncology Society,
International Proteolysis Society,
Slovensko biokemijsko društvo,
Slovensko genetsko društvo,
Društvo radiologov in onkologov,
Društvo za regenerativno medicino in tkivno inženirstvo.

Full member of Slovenian Engineers Academy, (since 2016)
The President of the Committee of the Republic of Slovenia for  Zois Awards and Puh Awards in science of the Republic of Slovenia (2014-2018)
The President of the Council for Science and Technology at the Government of the Republic of Slovenia (2014-2018)
The delegate of the RS to the EU Helsinki group for Women in Science (1999-2004)

Lapanje Award of Slovenian Biochemical Society  (2004)
Zei Award of NIB for Exceptinoal Achievements (2018)
Rio Branco Order highest Decoration of Brazilian Republic to a foreign citizen (2018)
Ljubljanana City award for Life Achievements in Cancer Research (2019)

Associate member of Slovenian Engineers Academy, (since 2016)
The President of the Committee of the R Slovenia for Zois Awards of the Republic and Puh Awards
The President of the Council for Science and Technology at the Government of the Slovenia
The delegate of the RS to the EU Helsinki group for Women in Science (1999-2004)

National projects are all mainly related to cancer basic and translational research:
Program P1-0245:Ecotoxicology, toxicogenomics and carcinogenesis (2000-2005, 2015-2019) ARRS J1-0295: Apoptosis of tumour cells as therapeutic target (2009-2012)
ARRS L3-4328: Hypoxic inactivation: Implication in heart failure lung insufficient and obesity (PI Mekjavić, IJS); Co-PI T.Lah, 2011-2014)
ARRS J1-71119: Biology Structural Level of EpCAM as a Foundation for Efficient Tumo Targeting(PI B. Lenarčič, FKKT; Co-PI T.Lah, 2016-2018)

ERA-NET Virtual Institute (PathoGenoMics) INREMOS: SYSTHER- Systems Biology Tools Development for Cell Therapy and Drug Development comprised the partnership between Slovenian teams from the Nacional Institute of Biology and Blood Transfusion Centre and German groups from University of Potsdam/Institute of Biochemistry and Biology/Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Junior Research Group Systems Immunology/Institute for Theoretical Biology, Humboldt-University Berlin, University Clinic for Neurosurgery/Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) in Großhadern, MicroDiscovery GmbH The value of the whole project was 5 mio EUR. The goal of this five-year project was long term collaboration between German and Slovene groups and institutions, working on modern trends in biology, such as development of advanced cell therapies in cancer and in particular understanding cancer stem cells and revealing their targets. The project is aimed to develop system biology transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics in solving the problems of cell therapy. Very successful spin-off company of NIB Biosistemika Ltd was established as a result of this project, Also, intense collaboration with companies LEK, Ltd. and BiaSeparation,Ltd., was initiated. Several excellent publications resulted from this project.

GLIOMA: Determination of New Biomarkers of Brain Tumours as Diagnostic indicators and Therapeutic Targets Slovenija- Italija 2007- 2013 (General Coordinator T.Lah 2008 – 2015). This was 1.3 mio EUR three years project within European Program of cross -border cooperation. Besides NIB, collaborators are Medical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, University Medical Centre Ljubljana and University Hospital in Udine, Sinhrotrone Trieste, as project partners from Italy. The main goal of the research collaboration was the role of glioma stem cells in yumour ptogreassion and to establish joined tissue and cell bank in the region. As the continuation of GLIOMA, in July 2017 the project TRANSGLIOMA, Interreg SLO-IT Programme: New Therapies of glioblastoma based on cross-border translation research platform (Coordinator for NIB T.Lah, 2017-2020) was approved to the same group, aimed to validate newly discovered GSC markers that would altogether complement therein proposed.

CNPQ Brazilian National Council of Technological and Scientific Development-CNPqc Project Linha 2 (Bolsa Pesquisador Visitante Especial Edital No 61/20119, entitled The Relevance of Kinin and Related Purinergic Signalling Pathways in Glioblastoma Cells upon Co-culturing with Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Research The Co-PI in the host institution University of Sao Paolo, Institute of Chemistry, was Prof. Henning Ulrich. In this project we investigated interactions between human mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow (MSC), as a part of natural tumour microenvironment, with the cells of most malignant brain tumour, the glioblastoma (Here, transcriptomics and bioinformatics algorithm& tools provided support to our biological validation of MSC effects of GB proliferation, cell-cycle, growth, and invasion.

Prof. Dr. Tamara Lah got her academic title of full Professor for biochemistry and molecular biology at the Faculty of Biotechnical Faculty and is teaching Biology of Cancer and  Bologna II /III stages at  Department of Biology, BF, UL; Chair of Biochemistry. FKK; Medical Faculty – Biomedicine and at International Postgraduate School Josef Stefan (IPS).
Prof. Dr. Lah was also the mentor of 15 PhD students, 13 Master students and 18 bachelor students, Visiting Professorship:
“Honorary invited lecturer SPINOZA” at the University Amsterdam Academic Medical Centre in June 2011, teaching the doctoral medical students on stem cells in cancer and on the role of proteolytic systems in cancer progression;
She was visiting Professor at the University of Sao Paolo between October2013 – 2016, holding a course for doctoral students of biochemistry on “Selected themes on tumor biology”at Instituto de Química, Universidade de São Paulo. The Programe was sponsored by CNPQ, Brazilian National Council of Technological and Scientific Development, contributing to academic collaboration between two countries.
Summer Schools. Tamara Lah organised International Summer School: “Modern approache to research and treatment of cancer” in April 2013, also editing the Book of abstracts. This was the 6th in the series of International summer schools that regularly took place at NIB-Marine Biology Station Piran.

Tamara Lah co-organised 8 »International Conferences on Experimental and Translational Oncology- CETO« in Slovenia in was the president of CETO in 2017. She was also the member of Programme Committees of nearly all Slovenian Biochemical Society Congresses and chaired one of them. In 2013 she co-organised the whole week events “Ten days dedicated to fighting cancer” with world class home and international scientists and expert’s attendance In 2017she  organiseda  lsoGLIOMAFORUM, the meeting of cca50 scientists from Europe and USA, discussing the advanced brain tumours. This conference was organised at the Marine Biology Station in Piran.