You both very recently started as PhD students in Matthias Meier's lab. What is your scientific background and ambitions?
Maren: I originally grew up in Rosenheim. I then went to Würzburg to study Biomedicine at the Julius Maximilian University. Already during my master thesis I was keen to work on a 3D cell model simulating platelet production on bone marrow sinusoids in a bioreactor. I am fascinated by the idea of establishing 3D cell culture models using microfluidic platforms to mimic the physiological situation of blood circulation in and around the tissue/organs. I am looking forward to now gaining scientific experience in tissue engineering in the field of diabetes research.
Julius: I'm a registered pharmacist by training. In addition to my studies, I developed a deep interest in basic and applied research and gained experience in diverse fields of academia and industry, especially in medicinal chemistry, pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology/formulation.
What was your motivation to pursue your research in Matthias' lab? Why did you decide to join HPC?
Julius: Advancing on my background, I was seeking to engage in cutting-edge research that would shape the future of medical and pharmaceutical applications. Because of his focus on combining organoid technology and microfluidic chips to achieve novel insights into human physiology and diseases, I became interested in Matthias' group. He has brought together a strong team with expertise from multiple disciplines, giving rise to exciting opportunities for synergistic and innovating research. Complementing this, HPC is the ideal platform for an open-minded and highly translational research environment.
Maren: I joined the HPC with the desire to pursue my PhD in an established research environment and to benefit from the wealth of easy to interact with research institutes (e.g. the extremely strong computational activities at the center or core facilities such as the immunohistochemistry unit). I was particularly interested in Matthias' group because I would like to gain valuable experience in areas so far unknown or not accessible during my biomedical education. The group specialises in both engineering customized bio-chips and bioinformatics, so I love to grow particularly in these areas.
"I really hope, that my work will not only reveal publishable data enabling me to accomplish a PhD-degree, but really to establish a reproducible clinical model, that informs further studies on obesity and diabetes and from which human patients eventually benefit."
What are your scientific expectations, the vision for the work you undertake while at HPC?
Maren: I really hope, that my work will not only reveal publishable data enabling me to accomplish a PhD-degree, but really to establish a reproducible clinical model, that informs further studies on obesity and diabetes and from which human patients eventually benefit. For my time at HPC, I am looking forward to work in a collegial team, where fun at research, lively exchange of ideas and cooperation is of high importance.
Julius: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most common form of pancreatic cancer. By combining state-of-the-art methods in microfluidics and stem-cell technology for modeling PDAC, in sincerely hope that my research will contribute to the discovery of novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies to tackle this tremendously devastating disease.