Laboratory training in Germany

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I had the fantastic opportunity to work in a Laboratory in Tuebingen, and gain valuable knowledge and interesting data as part of my PhD in Stem Cell Research at The University of Edinburgh. My placement was in Prof Olaf Reiss’ laboratory, which has published leading papers in the field of my research. Prof. Reiss’s laboratory is situated in University town of Tuebingen, which is located near Stuttgart. I had not previously worked in a laboratory outside of the UK before, so the Prinicpals’ Go Abroad Scheme also allowed me to gain experience of working abroad should I decide to do so in the future.

Tuebingen was a very charming University town, through which flowed the River Neckar. The Neckar was very popular with both the locals and tourists, who were often seen using Stocherkahn which are small boats similar in shape to punts seen in the UK.

My work placement was at the Institute of Medical Genetics and Applied Genomics, University of Tuebingen. I took microscope slides which I have produced during my PhD to Germany, in order to learn new techniques and analyse the results produced. The laboratory lead Dr Nicolas Casadei recommended a new antibody to use for immunohistochemistry (IHC) experiments, and helped teach me a new staining technique which is used to identify aggregated protein (Thioflavin S). Although we could not identify aggregates within our samples, the IHC produced interesting results which indicate this antibody is potentially very useful.

I have since returned to the lab and recommended the antibody that we are using. The antibody produces a distinctive pattern of immunostaining which appears to co-localise with markers of synapses, and it is likely that this antibody could be used to analyse conformational states of the alpha-synuclein protein. This is important since the mutation that I am working with is likely to disrupt the normal alpha-helical formation of alpha-synuclein, and thus this antibody could be used to investigate changes in potential conformational state of this protein further.

Dr Nicolas Casadei also helped advise on experiments which are likely to be informative and useful as part of my PhD studies, and helped provide an overview of data analysis methods that he has used as part of his projects.

I very much enjoyed my experience in Tuebingen, and I would definitely recommend students to apply for the Prinicpals’ Go Abroad Scheme. The Scheme provides a very valuable opportunity in gaining PhD training, potentially new data, and experience of working abroad which could influence potential career opportunities in the future.

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