Bozhidar Baltov, a BSc Biomedical Science student at the University of Bradford, received a Short Term Travel Award to spending a month in Vienna at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL).
Ever since the second year on the Biomedical Science course started, I knew that I wanted to secure a hands-on, practical summer placement.
During the first semester I met an Erasmus student, from Vienna, who introduced me to Professor Seiser, who has a research group at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL). I sent him an email with my CV and a cover letter; I explained what my interests were and what I expected in the email. The Professor said he would love to meet me in person in Vienna and discuss my possible involvement in his lab. I contacted the International Office at the University of Bradford to ask what possible financial support I could apply for. I heard about a Short Term Travel Award (up to £250) which the University provides for students who organise a placement abroad for a certain period.
On May 24th I arrived in Vienna to meet with Professor Christian Seiser where he explained the research taking place in his laboratory. He explained the scientific basis of his work and took me to the lab to introduce me to his team. Max F. Perutz Laboratories, which are a joint venture of the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna, in collaboration with the Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA), and the Gregor Mendel Institute (GMI) all comprise the Vienna Biocenter (VBC). Thus, I managed to secure a place at the VBC for August.
The meeting concluded with the Professor recommending a few scientific reviews and several research papers, which are good reading before starting work in August.
I will spend one month in his lab. I will be given tasks and help with the research in his lab. The Seiser Group uses two models, namely: haploid cell lines and mice to explore the role of histone deacetylases (HDACs) in development and disease. HDAC inhibitor treatment of tumour cells leads to cell cycle arrest, differentiation or apoptosis. Therefore, HDACs are potential targets for anti-tumour drugs and several HDAC inhibitors are currently tested in clinical trials. HDACs are considered as transcriptional co-repressors and 18 members of the HDAC family have been identified in mammalian cells. We agreed that I will be working with the haploid cells since they are easier to manipulate. Some of my tasks in the lab will be: using basic laboratory techniques, following protocols and classical research methods. I expect to be using a microscope and a micropipette, using pH buffers to control the pH of solutions, incubating plates, dyeing cells, as well as running blotting experiments. I will have to transfer the cell lines between media and ensure I am using aseptic techniques to do so. The Professor required from me to write and hand in a report at the end of the placement. He explained that since I will be helping his student, she may be giving me various tasks in addition to the above mentioned.
I want to express my immense fascination with Vienna. The city has captivated me with its spectacular soul and magnificence. It is a bustling city with huge numbers of students and young people, alongside the historical landmarks and the beautiful nature surrounding it. August is also an excellent opportunity to practice and improve my German.