Back from Barts

Erika has just come back home from the UK, after doing a fruitful research stay at Barts Cancer Institute, under the supervision of Prof. Fitzgibbon, one of our collaborators. She wanted to share her experience with us first hand, so we will just let her express herself.

[ERIKA] “The goal of my research project is to find biomarkers to predict the transformation of follicular lymphoma, which is a common type low grade B-cell lymphoma to a much aggressive type of lymphoma. Our hypothesis is that mutations in microRNA binding sites could be implicated in this process. Previously, I identified a number of variants in putative microRNA binding sites using next generation sequencing (NGS) and I experimentally demonstrated using luciferase assays that these variants promote a dysregulation of the normal microRNA activity.

The purpose of my visit to Dr. Fitzgibbon’s group in the Haemato-Oncology centre from the Barts Cancer Institute was to strengthen the collaboration between our research groups and take advantage from their wide experience in the follicular lymphoma pathophysiology and the molecular mechanisms implicated in the transformation of this indolent type of lymphoma to a high disease. In addition, I had access to material from a high number of FL cases allowing me to evaluate the frequency of the identified variants in microRNA binding sites in a large cohort of FL cases and associate them with the transformation event. Apart from that, I performed some functional assays using B-cell lymphoma cell lines in order to demonstrate that this mechanism is relevant in lymphoid cellular models.

Overall, my stay in Dr. Fitzgibbon’s group was so helpful as it gave me the opportunity to be in an interesting scientific environment enabling me to discuss about ideas and strategies for my PhD research project and take advices about how to focus my thesis. From a personal point of view it has been a really exciting experience as well. I loved to live in London. I particularly enjoyed exploring the city markets, the parks and the museums of the city. I also enjoyed the Friday evenings in the pub with the lab mates after work and trying typical English food such as fish and chips and beef pie. As the last period of my stay was Christmas time I could also try mulled wine and minced pies. During the weekends I used to go to dance Salsa quite frequently as it is one of my main hobbies and it is the perfect way to socialize so, that  helped me a lot to make friends out of work. I would really like to thank Dr. Fitzgibbon and his entire fantastic group for hosting me and for letting me being part of the team”.

In support of her final sentences, we have found these pictures while sneaking into her facebook profile ;-D

And finally, we would like to make the most of the post, and wish her a wonderful birthday celebration with her new friends over the weekend … back in London!

(yep! London)


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