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Introducing the Summer Research Interns 2021

Four students arrived in Dresden for a summer research internship in labs of DIGS-BB group leaders

Four young people, sitting next to each other, chatting and laughing; picture taken through lavender plants (blurry in the foreground)
The DIGS-BB Summer Interns 2021: Anna, Andres, David, Alexandra (from left to right)

We give a warm welcome to the first four students for this year’s Summer Research Internships. Aleksandra, Anna, Andrés, and David have been selected in a competitive application process to work on research projects in labs of DIGS-BB group leaders. For three months they will do hands-on research but also get to know the Biopolis campus and the Dresden research community. We have asked them to tell us about their projects and why they chose to apply for a Summer Research Internship:

Aleksandra Greshnova

James Sáenz Group, TUD B CUBE

The internship at DIGS-BB provides a wonderful opportunity to gain hands-on research experience at the early stages. I am interested in synthetic biology and I was happy to find that one of the groups at B CUBE specializes in bottom-up synthetic biology, particularly in lipidomics.
We mainly work with Mycoplasma mycoides. This organism is widely used as a model organism to study membranes and also to define minimal requirements to maintain life. Our project aims to develop a defined media with a defined lipid diet for Mycoplasma mycoides. This will promote reproducibility of the experiments and make us closer to understanding the fundamental principles of life. The next step in this direction will be defining a formula for minimal media and minimal lipid diet for JCVI-Syn3A – a synthetic organism based on Mycoplasma mycoides.

Andrés de Vicente Donderis

Björn Falkenburger Group, TUD Medical Campus

I come from Valencia (Spain), where I study Medicine. I am passionate about Neurobiology and how the brain develops and its circuits produce complex behaviors, such as movement. Sometimes these functions can be impaired by neurodegenerative diseases, which have a great impact on both patients and healthcare systems. The Falkenburger Lab studies Parkinson’s disease at the cellular and molecular level, with a special interest on the protein whose aggregates cause it: alpha-synuclein. In particular, my internship project focuses on intermittent fasting as a possible strategy to reduce neurodegeneration and restore motor function in mice.
Taking part in the DIGS-BB Internship Program is being a great experience. It not only gives the opportunity to engage in a research project but also creates a very nice scientific and social environment with the opportunity to interact with many other students from all over the world with the same shared passion for science.

Anna Kapitonova

Attila Tóth Group, TUD MTZ

I carry out an internship in the laboratory of Prof. Dr. Attila Tóth. The lab mainly focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying meiotic recombination. My project investigates the physical interactions between structural components of chromosome axes, synaptonemal complex and axis-associated regulatory proteins that are central to meiosis. I learn and use fundamental methods of molecular biology, including cloning, yeast two-hybrid assays and recombinant protein work, which I find very exciting and motivating!
In the future, I want to pursue a PhD in an international center that values diversity in people and ideas. My internship in the DIGS-BB perfectly fits this goal, and it greatly enhances my development as a scientist. This program provides an opportunity to get into new techniques, master known ones and take part in cutting-edge research. I want to share my aspirations with others while also learning from them, and I hope I can bring value to this internship.

David Kubánek

Hayder Amin Group, DZNE

How does the brain determine the states of the world from sensory inputs? More generally, how do we infer hidden causes from observed data? The free-energy principle suggests that any self-organising system has to partake in a form of active inference by forming beliefs about the world and evaluating the error in those predictions. From this perspective, information processing in the brain has a single goal: minimising prediction error (free-energy). I investigate empirical excitation data collected from brain slices, in combination with an in silico computational model, for signs of such information processing and free-energy minimisation.
I wanted to explore science at the intersection of neuroscience and computational modelling. Dr Amin is fascinated by the same questions as I am and has the data and know-how to address them. I am grateful for the opportunity to find my way around these complex topics in such a supportive environment.