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Joint programme
Bioinformatics and Systems Biology (joint degree UvA/VU)
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Merel Nessen

'As a Master student Life Sciences at the UvA I enjoyed the freedom to combine courses and internships, allowing you to specialize in the topic you’re most interested in. I chose to spend more time on internships in my masters, as I enjoyed the research and to prepare myself for an academic career.

For my master thesis I studied the interaction between the receptor protein Met and its ligand HGF/SF, using chemical cross-linking and mass spectrometry. As this protein complex is involved in different types of cancer, knowledge on the interaction between the two proteins will allow the design of drugs.

This collaboration between the group ‘Mass spectrometry of Biomacromolecules’ at the UvA and the ‘Growth Factor Group’ at the Medical Research Council – Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC-LMB) in Cambridge (UK) resulted in an additional internship for me. In Cambridge I expressed, isolated and characterized different mutants of the ligand, in order to design an antagonist for the receptor.

After my masters I decided to do my PhD at the UvA on a joined project of the groups Mass Spectrometry of Biomacromolecules (Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences) and Synthetic Organic Chemistry (Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences).

My PhD research focused on the development of an enrichment method for azide containing peptides to study proteome dynamics by mass spectrometry. During my PhD I enjoyed the scientific freedom the UvA gives you to conduct your research. And in the new building of the FNWI at Science Park you can sense the academic atmosphere, which is a very stimulating environment to work in.

Currently I’m working as a researcher at RIKILT Institute of Food Safety which is part of Wageningen University and Research Center (WUR).'