School is organized into projects. For short description of each project
and project leaders' bio read bellow.
Fundamental biochemical and genetic processes are evolutionary conserved
among all living organisms. Discovery and dissection of such processes in
lower species, such as the nematode C. elegans, allowed them to act as
models to delineate the regulation of these processes in mammalian cells.
elegans as a model organism offers a great potential for genetic analysis,
partly because of its rapid life cycle, large brood size and its sequenced
In this project the participants will manipulate gene expression by
mutation and RNA interference and analyse the corresponding phenotypes of
the knock-downs by cell biological analysis. Vice versa, we want to map a
genetic mutation to a single chromosome by tracking a certain phenoype.
in all, this project provides an overview of the current state-of-the-art
approaches used by scientists to modulate gene expression in order to
characterize the function of their genes of interest.
Fisher Clinical Services AG, Allschwil, Switzerland
Christine did her PhD in Biochemistry at the FMI Basel and ETH Zurich and
is currently coordinating Clinical Trials at Fisher Clinical Services,
Allschwil. Applying genetic, cell biological and biochemical techniques, for
her PhD thesis she functionally characterized a component of a multi-protein
complex acting downstream of signalling networks (TOR/PI3K) that integrate
diverse metabolic, stress and environmental cues to control cell growth,
proliferation and survival.
Liquid crystals or mesogens are often referred to as a fourth state of
matter. These molecules possess unique properties between those of
conventional liquids and those of crystalline solids. Under special
conditions- at a suitable temperature or in certain solvent- they show a
variety of phases (mesophases) that have a fluidity of a liquid but
molecules in these fluid phases tend to arrange and orient in a crystal-like
way. Due to their interesting electrooptical properties LC molecules have a
large application potential in displays of various kinds but they are also
widely spread in nature. Some proteins, most components of cell membranes
and even DNA are liquid crystalline in nature.
This project will deal with
thermotropic liquid crystals i.e. organic substances that show one or more
anisotropic liquid phases between melting point (below which material is in
a solid state) and clearing point (above which material is in a state of
isotropic liquid). Mesogenic properties of LC molecules are observed during
cycles of heating from a solid crystal as well as during cycles of cooling
from isotropic liquid.Students will be given to synthesize a homologue
series of twin Schiff bases liquid crystalline molecules and learn how to
characterize mesophases by polarizing microscopy. Mesogenic behaviour of
synthesized group of molecules and their subunits will be compared to study
structure and properties relationship.
Rudjer Boskovic Institute, Zagreb, Croatia
Maja is a doctoral student of chemistry at Rudjer Boskovic Institute,
Zagreb, Croatia. She has a diploma in biotechnology and is currently working
on a thesis in synthesis and characterization of dimeric Schiff bases
liquid-crystalline molecules. Her interests also include preparation and
characterization of liquid- crystalline physical gels and metallomesogens.
Color vision in human beings is achieved through the differential excitation
of three retinal pigments with different spectral sensitivities. The common
principle behind color technology in photography, cathode ray television, or
liquid crystal displays, is to mix in a controlled way the light of three
different chromatic sources, each of them addressing one of the pigments, to
reproduce the perception of basically any color.
In this project the students will build an optical setup to project three
nearly monochromatic beams onto a white screen to demonstrate color
constitution. By modulating the relative intensities of the three
overlapping beams, they should be able to reproduce any color on the screen.
Two different principles will be tested to control the beam intensities:
variable neutral density filters, and birefringent plates between crossed
polarizers, in analogy with the cathodic tube and liquid crystal display
Reproducing the tones of a standard color table, requires a fine and
systematic calibration of the "color device". We will design suitable scales
for tuning the setup in a reproducible manner. Using a monochromator, the
spectral components of the light from a computer display will be analyzed,
to reveal the color calibration of a functional industrial device. In the
final presentation, the students will briefly discuss the concepts of color
vision and technology, and will present the finished setup. They will be
able to reproduce any color on demand.
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland
Erwin is currently finishing his PhD thesis in the Laboratory of
Ultrafast Spectroscopy in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL),
Lausanne. He studies the dynamical properties of water and organic solvents
on interfaces, using ultrashort laser pulses to resolve in real time,
processes that happen in a time scale of femtoseconds (10-15 s). He has also
worked on the optical characterization of bacterial retinal proteins in
three-dimensional crystals. Some of his hobbies: camping, hiking,
speleology, dancing and skiing.
In the last decade microarrays have become widespread in the research
laboratories, their usage ranging from scientific inquiries, to drug
research and medical diagnosis. Microarrays or biochips are orderly
arrangements of millions of short DNA pieces on a rigid plastic or glass
surface. They are used to detect the amount of all messenger RNA in a cell
of interest at the same time. Since each cell contains tens of thousands of
different mRNA, different computational methods had to be developed to bring
meaning to such huge amounts of data. These methods join the fields of
mathematics, information technology, and molecular biology under the common
name of bioinformatics.
In this project, students will be presented with the
real microarray data of tumor or diseased cells. From the forest of
information, they will have to find possible drug targets which are
responsible for the phenotype. Students will use practical programming,
statistical and bioinformatic skills acquired through the course of the
project. The proteins of interest will then be presented on the maps of
metabolic and signaling pathways, and through the 3D modeling software.
Faculty of Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Nenad has a degree in molecular biology and is finishing pharmacy at the
Faculty of pharmacy and biochemistry, Zagreb. As a member of the
Bioinformatics group at the Faculty of Sciences, he works on analysis of
microarray and metagenome (genome of whole environments) data. He is
interested in graphs and networks of life, nanotechnology and drug
Fluorescence is a widely exploited phenomenon that has revolutionized the
field of molecular imaging. Combined with the advances in microscopy
techniques, it has allowed visualization of microstructures at unprecedented
resolutions. In molecular biomedical research, some of the most important
functional imaging techniques involve the usage of fluorescent proteins.
First discovered in the form of the famous green fluorescent protein
(GFP), this family of proteins now includes many others whose properties
span a broad spectrum of colors, biological characteristics and potential
applications. These proteins are widely used to investigate the localization
and structural properties of many molecular, cellular and organismal
processes. From tracking individual proteins within cellular compartments,
to chasing tumor cells across animal tissues, fluorescent proteins are
indispensable tools of the modern biomedical sciences.
During this project, students will learn about the basic principles of
fluorescence, molecular biology of proteins and their applications in
cutting edge biomedical imaging. Starting with the DNA coding for the
proteins, they will be charged with the task of transforming bacteria,
identifying those producing the proteins of interest using DNA and protein
analysis techniques, and finally purifying enough of the several fluorescent
proteins to be visualized. They will also get an overview of general
concepts in biomedical engineering as they relate to the project at hand, as
well as their clinical importance.
Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA
Serge is a fourth year medical student at the Yale School of Medicine,
where he is currently working on a PhD in tissue engineering within the
departments of Biomedical Engineering and Pediatric Surgery, as a part of
the combined MD/PhD Medical Scientist Training Program. His scientific
background spans neuroscience, molecular biology and psychology. Examples of
his past research include examining the neural chemistry and behavior in
rats, and studying radial migration of neurons in the subventricular zone of
the developing mouse brain. He hopes to become an academic pediatric surgeon
and a Médecins Sans Frontières volunteer.