22 Jun Culturing viruses and organoids at the AMC
One of the main reasons for me to do a PhD with OrganoVIR is their secondments. The secondments are designed in such a way that every PhD student receives training at other institutions in order to learn and practice techniques that will help them during their PhD project. Besides learning and practicing technical skills, the secondments also provide a valuable opportunity to network that further expand the PhD experience. Since the beginning of my PhD project I have been waiting for my first planned secondment, which was a secondment at the AMC. The AMC is where OrganoVIR was born, more specifically in Katja Wolthers and Dasja Pajkrt’s group.
It was the beginning of a new year and the perfect time to start new experiences. My first day at the AMC was like moving to my second home: I immediately felt comfortable as I had already visited the research group multiple times before. The research group had recently moved to another building where they have their own office and lab space. I was happy to see everyone and to see their new labs. Like moving to any new place, you get a tour around the department with an introduction to every lab and the type of work that is done there. This made me even more excited to start using the new shiny LAF hoods and to be working in the lab dedicated to growing organoids.
In the lab, I learned many commonly practiced techniques in virus research and organoid culturing. I used cell lines to grow different viruses and microscopically I was able to see the effect of infection on the cells. By using biopsies organoids can be grown from the isolated stem cells. I enjoyed my first experience working with organoids and seeing them grow into a small functional organ.
At the AMC, we had group meetings every Monday morning at 9:30 am. Personally, I was dreading these meetings because they were held on Monday morning and I had to wake up extra early to catch the train to Amsterdam from Leiden. Not that I’m not a morning person but waking up in a rush to catch a train was not the way I wanted to start my week. On the other hand, whenever I was at the meeting, I realized that these meetings were a great way to start the week. It was exciting for me to learn about the viruses that the research group was working with and what kind of research is being done. During the meeting we also got to discuss and help each other with any questions or difficulties that we have, and sometimes at the end of the meeting we get to have coffee and chat about life in general.
A pandemic style end
Unfortunately, by the end of my secondment, COVID-19 had already made its way to the Netherlands and around the world. It was a little bit stressful taking public transport during the implementation of the 1.5-meter distance rule. Luckily, I was already ending my experiments with a lot of qPCR analysis. The worst part is that I didn’t get to say goodbye properly to the research group with cake, because who doesn’t like cake? However, I’m not worried, because I will soon get to visit them again at the AMC.