Second STSM Experience

Second STSM Experience

Sara Moura is a 2nd year PhD student in the Microenvironments for New Therapies research group, under the supervision of Dr. Maria Inês Almeida, at i3s – Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Portugal. The laboratory focus is to render bioengineered microenvironments powerful tools for the treatment and diagnosis of diseases. For her PhD thesis, Sara is particularly interested in studying the role of noncoding RNA (ncRNAs) on Osteoporosis and understanding how they can be used for the treatment of this disease.

Sara Moura shared with us a brief report of her experience in a STSM

“On the 12th of April 2021 I started my 5-month research stay at the Klinisk Cellebiologi lab at (SDU) University of Southern Denmark under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Kent Søe. 

Despite the unstable climate associated to the actual COVID-19 situation and all the restrictions imposed through all Europe, it was possible for me to carry out all the planned experiments. This was only possible due to the support and help provided by all the members of the group. They were indispensable to guarantee the success of my visit. The main aim of this collaboration was for me to learn how to evaluate the role of ncRNAs during osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption, a critical and crucial part of my PhD project. Although this was already a challenging objective, I was able to successfully perform all the established tasks and pursue additional experiments. In this context, I had time to additionally perform co-cultures with treated-osteoclasts and osteoblasts (OBs)/reversal cells, a protocol in which the host lab has extensive experience with, and assess the effect of my treatment in the reversal cells’ behaviour (specifically differentiation potential). In summary, during my stay in the host lab, I learned to: 1) assess the effect of ncRNA on osteoclasts (OCs) activity / bone resorption; 2) acquire and analyse time-lapse recording and 3) work with OBs/reversal cells. 

Working with these incredible researchers gave me important tools to develop the rest of my PhD thesis, due to the extensive knowledge they hold (and have now shared with me) on the bone microenvironment and cell biology, particularly concerning OCs and reversal cells, as well as the world of clinical cell biology. But it wasn’t only regarding the pure science knowledge where they’ve offered new insights. By allowing me to join their team meetings, they gave me the opportunity to interact with all kinds of new realities and have the most interesting discussions, which has led, undoubtedly, to a critical expansion of my expertise. 

Outside the lab, I still had the privilege of being a “tourist” in this amazing and fascinating country and visit some of the most iconic cities in Denmark, like Copenhagen and Aarhus. I got to learn little interesting facts about Denmark, such as that even if the communication system “Bluetooth” wasn’t of Danish origin, it was named after the Danish Viking king Harald Bluetooth, known for uniting people. I was reintroduced to the tales of one of my favourite childhood fairy-tale writers, Hans Christian Andersen, and then, just as my younger self, changed the daily car rides for my faithful bicycle that accompanied me wherever I went. Finally, as a true portuguese, I was delighted to dive in the Danish cuisine and taste some of my now favourite dishes, such as the smørrebrød sandwiches, with all its shades of dressings.

Overall, I am really grateful for this opportunity provided by GEMSTONE. This STSM pushed me to grow as a person and as a scientist, by creating a space where I could meet many different perspectives and amazing people that have inspired me to improve myself. This is, certainly, an experience that I will not easily forget. As such, I am profoundly thankful to Prof. Dr. Kent Søe for receiving me so warmly in his lab, for all the interesting scientific discussions, the interest in my project, the great support and for being an inspiration to young scientists everywhere. 

I am looking forward to analyse all the data obtained from my stay there, implement their suggestions and to continue our collaboration in future projects.”

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