From Barcelona to Babraham
The idea of an International network connecting leading scientists and young researchers working on PI3-kinases was the concept behind an ambitious project entitled PI3K biology in health and disease (or just Phd in short), funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. The network involves european academic and clinical institutions as well as an industrial partner who aim to train 15 young researchers, including myself and fellow KEC bloggers; Piotr Jung and Christina Couregges.
The project is now in its second year and I do believe that we have already strengthened the bonds between us and made friends within the network. I really enjoy the annual workshops and meetings organized by the consortium, where we can exchange our scientific and private experience and inspire each other (to read about the last workshop in Cambridge, check out last Christina´s blog post!). In fact, all of us come from different places in the world and we all have different cultural backgrounds - that diversity, in my opinion, constitutes the pure beauty of such projects.
I work in the Vascular Signalling Laboratory, led by Mariona Graupera, at Institut d’Investigació Biomèdica de Bellvitge (Idibell) in Barcelona, where I try to decipher the role of p110α, one of the catalytic subunit of class I PI 3-kinases, in the process of sprouting angiogenesis and arteriovenous differentiation. Being part of the Phd Innovative Training Network not only gives me a great opportunity to work with top researchers in the field, willing to share their excellent experience and ideas, but it also encourages the mobility among the research community and cultural diversity too.
I am writing this KEC post as I had a great pleasure to visit the Babraham Institute earlier this year. I spent one month in Len Stephens’ and Phill Hawkin’s lab as part of my first training within the network. The Marie Curie Innovative Training Networks, like ours, allow all the young researchers to perform experiments and learn new techniques available in other partners’ institutes. As my PhD project is, in great part, related to protein-protein interactions, the training at the Babraham Institute gave me a chance to get more insights into some aspects of modern proteomics such as sample preparation for mass spectrometry and proteomics data analysis - both very relevant for my work. Moreover, I have established contacts with great researchers from the BI that offered me their help and expertise for the future.
Going to a new place, even if for a short period, is always a bit challenging (well, at least for the inner introvert in me), but my concerns vanished just after I met all the friendly people from different labs, willing to make me feel at home. I have realised, in the end, how the Babraham Institute’s unique location (on the Babraham Research Campus just outside Cambridge) and its natural and peaceful surroundings, help the people to connect and unite. I was really glad and happy to join some social events too (including famous Cambridge formal dinner and yoga classes!) with other peers.
The month passed very quickly but it was a great experience and hopefully the first of many. I hope to come back soon to finish the experiments and reunite with the friends I made there. Thanks to the ethos of the ITN network and the willingness of all partner organisation to host me and other visiting scientists, the research within the Phd programme goes from strength to strength.