FGLS supports short-term lab rotations within the Department of Biology to foster interdisciplinary research activities and to further increase the exchange of methods and approaches within the different domains of biology. Lluís Matas from the group of Simon Blanchoud was the first student to perform such a two-weeks-rotation.
Arrived more than one year ago in Switzerland, Lluís is studying Botrylloides leachii, which is a species of tunicates, human's closest invertebrate relatives. This animal, rather not common in laboratories, has an impressive capacity of regeneration. From a very small piece of its vascular system, it is able to rebuild all its organs to form an entire adult. Lluís and his group leader want to map the entire regeneration process of this invertebrate by monitoring all its cells and understanding their usefulness in this process. In particular, Lluís’ project investigates the role of the vascular system during regeneration.
The Catalan, who used to work on cardiovascular disease using vertebrate models at the University of Glasgow, now appreciates to pursue an independent and creative research in a young lab at the University of Fribourg. Lluís’ PhD will last until 2022 and he already has plenty of work ongoing. Yet, when his supervisor suggested him to take part in a new study module consisting of two weeks rotation in a different lab, he eagerly took this opportunity of accumulating more experience and novel skills.
Interdisciplinarity: a professional and academic asset
Lluís chose the Dengjel lab for his first rotation because mastering the tools to study blood and serum composition are essential for his research. The possibility to study a very different organism using novel approaches was also appealing.
He had the chance to learn new techniques like mass-spectrometry, immunoprecipitation, cell culture and lentivirus production. While he was vaguely aware of these technologies, witnessing and performing them himself made him realize how useful they really are for his research. “During this rotation I spent three days per week working in their lab, and one day per week studying the theory behind the research and the techniques carried out. I was also guided to select some literature that provided good insights into these topics”, explains the student.
By working in this new environment, his awareness of the Department’s available facilities and equipment has widened. Working on new topics has brought him new ideas on innovative approaches his group could implement. The recently learned techniques will provide promising new insights for his research, and likely generate valuable results: “My learning process was flexible and the organization aspects were always discussed with my supervisors, who also kindly provided me guidance. In the Dengjel lab, I learned a new set of techniques that once combined with the ones currently in use in my group, will be an excellent complement for our research on regeneration in tunicates.”
Do you want to enlarge your horizon during your PhD?
Lab-rotations are open to all our PhD students. They can choose their destination lab among the 29 Department research groups: Up-to two rotations of two weeks each are possible. The best moment to do these are at the beginning of the PhD, but there is no time limit.