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Amazing experience

Radboud Honours Programme Medical Sciences

Demi1 13 Aug 2017

Almost two months ago, I returned from what was the most amazing experience in my life thus far. From April until July 2017, I have been residing in Dallas to be involved in medical research focused on the regulation of the expression and release of α-klotho by extracellular magnesium. I got this opportunity because I enrolled in the Radboud Honours Programme Medical Sciences. The Honours Programme is an extracurricular programme, which allows highly motivated (bio)medical bachelor students to get acquainted with several aspects of scientific medical research in the early phases of their studies. For me as a medical student, it has been an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge about the field of medical research and has also given me the opportunity to gain experience in this field. When I enrolled in the program, I doubted whether I would be able to meet the expectations and I was afraid that I would not be 'good enough'. However, it has been a one-of-a-kind experience and I have been able to do things I never held possible.

During the first year of the Honours programme, different research institutes and research themes of the RadboudUMC introduced themselves by offering one-month courses in which lectures, clinical visits and hands-on laboratorial experiments were provided. The course that immediately caught my interest was the renal disorders course, organized by the Department of Physiology. During this course, I learned about studying renal magnesium wasting in a zebrafish model, the basics of cell culture, and techniques such as immunoblotting and Calcium imaging. I was introduced to many PhD students and postdocs, and I really liked ambiance at the department. In my experience, I had seen and learned the most during this course. So when it was time to choose an individual topic, I chose to collaborate with Francisco Arjona, who I met during the course. From August to March, he taught me various techniques by letting me help with his experiments. These techniques included RNA isolation, primer designing, RT-qPCR, protein quantification, and immunoblotting. Furthermore, Femke Latta taught me various techniques in cell culture. Together, they helped me preparing me for my internship abroad.

When it was time to go abroad, I took off to Dallas, Texas. I travelled together with Sylvan Janssen, another Honours student who ended up in the same city. My internship was located at the Charles and Jane Pak Center for Mineral Metabolism and Clinical Research, and the Department of Internal Medicine of the UT Southwestern Medical Center. There, I worked in the lab of Orson W. Moe, MD, where I studied the regulation of the expression and release of α-klotho by extracellular magnesium. My daily supervisor was Silvia Ferrè, a very talented and kind-hearted researcher who did her PhD at the Department of Physiology in Nijmegen. She was full of praise about her time there and she taught me everything I needed to know. Furthermore, she helped me and Sylvan during our first days in Dallas, and we met a lot of people through her. Almost every weekend was filled with events, trips, and other things to do in and around the city. I travelled through Texas with my parents, and I went to New York with seven other Honours students.

To summarize, I have had an amazing time during my time at the Department of Physiology in Nijmegen and during my stay in Dallas. Participating in the Honours Programme has convinced me that I would like to stay involved in research. In addition, I truly believe that the entire experience will help me to become a better clinician later on in my career. Not only have I learned a lot about performing full time research, I also got the chance to meet a lot of new people, a new city, and an entirely new country. In addition, the Department of Physiology did an excellent job preparing me for my time abroad. I am really thankful for everything, and I hope many more students will get the chance to go abroad.


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