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Harvard Internship

Experience of Noëlle & Ingrid


Master Internship Boston (USA)Noel1


It was October 2013 when we, Noëlle van Leur and Ingrid de Jong, were informed about the long wait for our master in medicine. We decided we wanted to spend that time useful and therefore started searching for a research training internship abroad. Soon we heard about Physiomics and their collaborations with research groups all over the world. We contacted Physiomics via email and we met Prof. Dr. Joost Hoenderop a couple of days later. We had an interesting conversation about the requirements associated with a research training internship and our preferences. Based on that, Prof. Dr. Joost Hoenderop came up with several proposals. The Bonventre Laboratory of Kidney Injury and Repair - Brigham and Women's Hospital - Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA, most appealed to us. It was partly thanks to the long-standing collaboration between Prof. Dr. Joost Hoenderop and Prof. Dr. Joseph Bonventre that we were both assigned an internship in Prof. Dr. Joseph Bonventre's laboratory. We were really excited and started preparing right away. We were warned that this would take a lot of time, but it turned out to be even harder than we initially thought, with obtaining a visa being the biggest problem. Thanks to the Physiomics staff and our study advisor we got around everything just in time to start our internships in September 2014. Although we had written a Plan of Work during a two-week course to prepare ourselves for our internships, we had no practical experience with working in a laboratory and doing research in general. Fortunately, our supervisors abroad were really enthusiastic and patient in teaching us as much as possible in the twelve weeks we spent in the laboratory. We have learned a lot about the theoretical background and the practical implementation of various techniques, such as cell and tissue culture, immunocytochemistry, fluorescence microscopy and molecular biology methods, including Gateway cloning, bacterial culture, gel electrophoresis and DNA purification and amplification. Over time, we integrated ourselves into the laboratory environment and became more independent which gave us the opportunity to set up our own experiments. Noëlle's original proposed project was to explore if isolated Six2+ nephron progenitor cells are capable of forming mature nephron segments in the absence of associated FoxD1+ interstitial cells. Unfortunately this project had to be changed due to the unavailability of sufficient mice of correct genotype. With her new project she has focused on transcriptional reprogramming of mice fibroblasts to nephron progenitor cellin vitro.The switch to another project was not easy but it taught us that doing research is not something that you can totally plan and predict. Ingrid focused on identifying co-culture conditions for the maintenance of the Six2+ nephron progenitor cell population. She also had problems with the availability of sufficient mice of correct genotype, but was able to complete her experiments once. The results of both projects are still preliminary but they gave us the opportunity to learn a lot about basic science research and master a wide variety of lab techniques. Besides these interesting techniques we were also able to meet a lot of international researchers and discuss topics such as research in other countries, the combination of clinical work and doing research and cooperation and competition between researchers. This made our abroad internship even more interesting.

During our stay in Boston we were also able to have some fun outside the laboratory environment. We went to New York, celebrated Halloween and went on a whale watching trip in Boston.  After our internship we decided to travel along the east coast of the U.S.A. and visited Washington D.C., Charlotte, Atlanta, Orlando, Miami and the Bahama's. Together we had a great time and made memories that will last us a lifetime!





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