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Julia's Internship

Experience of Julia van Tuijl


Honours Internship Chicago (USA)Julia van Tuijl

Radboud Honours Program Medical Sciences

At this very moment, I am at my apartment in one of the biggest cities in the USA, enjoying the beautiful view over the Loop's skyscrapers and Lake Michigan, while writing this story for future Physiomics students. I will not keep you guessing for too long: I am currently residing in Chicago, a.k.a. ''the windy city''. It is not only the strong wind here that has blown me away, but also the experience of living in a big, vibrant city, being on my own for six months and having the opportunity to be fully engaged in medical research. The latter is what mainly brought me to Chicago. I am currently performing a research internship in the Department of Internal Medicine, Rush University Medical Center, where I am investigating the role of the endoprotease Cathepsin L  in glomerular disease. This internship abroad was organized by the Department of Physiology (Ion transport group), which is where I got to do my first hands-on experiments.

My scientific journey started exactly two years ago, when I received an e-mail that I was accepted to participate in the Radboud Honours Program Medical Sciences. As a part of this program, I got the opportunity to perform a research internship in the Department of Physiology and a subsequent research internship abroad in the laboratory of one of their collaborating partners. I can still clearly recall the first day of my internship at the Department of Physiology. Being a medical student who had never held a pipet before, I was very curious and nervous to find out if I would be able to perform my own experiments. Despite my shaky hand and blurred brain from all the new impressions, I managed to finish my first experiment with good results. Relieved as I was that I did not ruin it, I could not foresee the amount of experiments exploding in my face over the next nine months. However, like a wise man once said and what my supervisors have taught me: "Mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later a collection of mistakes is what is called experience" (Denis Waitley). I am very content with their teaching approaches, because they greatly stimulated me to perform my experiments independently. In the end, my supervisors have taught me a great number of experimental techniques, such as RNA extraction, Cloning, qPCR, Western Blotting and last but not least Midi- and Mini preparations. Besides teaching me all the basic lab techniques, my supervisors were also keen on challenging me to think scientifically and to really understand the experiments I was performing. I also got the chance to attend a lot of weekly lab meetings, during which ongoing projects of the department were presented and discussed. Being part of those meetings greatly increased my knowledge of renal physiology and pathology and gave me more insight in how research projects are conducted.

This internship has not only been beneficial for my academic development, but I also got to know a lot of very friendly, helpful and intelligent people. Moreover, the department is very internationally minded and attracts employees from all over the world. It is a hard working and eager group, but there is also time for fun. The department organizes a lot of exciting events. I really enjoyed joining in their yearly events such as the lab-day out, the christmas dinner and competing in the easter egg painting contest, as well as joining them at their weekly get-togethers in our medical faculty's bar.

All together, the Department of Physiology has created a great environment for students. It has tremendously fueled my enthusiasm for medical research and has contributed to my ideal of combining it with my future profession as a physician. In all honesty, I can say that my internship made this year the most productive, most educational and, as equally important, most fun year of my medical career.







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