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student biomedical sciences
Photo: Bastiaan Leerkotte

The liberal character

I chose to study at the UvA because it reflects the liberal character which is so typical for Amsterdam. The university offers a framework with sufficient freedom for students to determine their own study path, yet provides enough guidance when needed. Biomedical Sciences was a good opportunity to put my theor­etical knowledge to research. Whereas the Bachelor "Biomedical Sciences" provided me with broad basic knowledge of biomedical principles, I acquired useful and specific additional skills during the Master's programme. ‘Digging' through specific literature was one of them. Some others included different lab techniques. These are transferrable skills that will certainly benefit me in my further career'.

International classroom

It is great to study with a group of people who are focused and motivated. The Biomedical Sciences Master's programme is aimed at an interesting mix of international students, each with their own background and view on science. Most courses are interactive, and professors, for example Rob Aalberse, are very approachable.

I found it also very interesting to work together with colleague scientists in allied research areas. The Academic Medical Centre offers a very open atmosphere where people from different labs are keen on cooperation and knowledge-sharing.

Internships

Internships are the opportunity to put your personal interest's research into practice. My main topic of interest is 'molecular dynamics'. I find it fascinating how simple thermodynamic principles govern all of the specific molecular interactions found in biology. Immunology, the field of my first internship is a good example of the marvellous complexity and subtlety of nature on a molecular level. The topic of my second placement, bioenergetics is another prime example. The fast majority of active processes in cells depend on the multifunctional nucleotide Adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Studying the molecular details of mitochondria is crucial to understand how energy is transformed into this useful form ATP. It is a great challenge to transform this fundamental understanding into medical applications.

From Master to PhD

I was presented the opportunity to conduct my second research project at professor Walker's institute, the MRC Dunn in Cambridge (UK) as a part of the UvA master biomedical sciences. The research concerned the effects of certain proteins found in the inner mitochondrial membrane. After gene silencing of such a protein in whole cells with RNA interference, effects of the particular target were assessed in different ways. Changes in mitochondrial morphology were monitored with the use of a confocal microscope, and an electron microscope. I have also set up a read-out for mitochondrial membrane potential, using a Flow Cytometer in combination with a fluorescent potential-sensitive dye. After this work placement I was invited to apply for a position as PhD student. In October I will start a four-year research project leading to a doctoral degree under the supervision of Nobel prize winner John E Walker.'