Celebrating Youth with New York University Abu Dhabi

ICGEB celebrates the United Nations International Youth Day with students from the New York University, Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) who are doing summer internships at ICGEB Trieste and New Delhi.

This summer, undergraduate students from NYUAD are spending their summer with mentors in their scientific fields at the ICGEB Trieste and New Delhi laboratories.

Originally from Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Slovakia and UAE, eleven students from NYUAD are the second group to undertake summer internships at ICGEB. In 2022, six student interns were at the ICGEB laboratories, when a Memorandum of Understanding between ICGEB and NUYAD came into force.

The aim of the internship programme is to allow students enrolled in molecular biology and biochemistry courses at NYUAD access to state-of-the-art ICGEB research labs. The students select their research areas of interest and apply to the lab of their choice for an internship position, where they are actively involved in the lab’s research activity for up to 2 months. In addition to learning useful laboratory techniques first-hand, the students have the chance to experience the everyday workings of a vibrant laboratory, which in turn helps them make informed career decisions about their desire to work in science and research.

The potential areas of collaboration foreseen by the MoU further include joint research and faculty capacity-building activities, as well as developing future ICGEB initiatives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the 68 ICGEB Member States.

The testimonials provided by the students make for amazing reading. We are delighted to publish these here and are grateful for their contributions, and to the PIs who made their stay so enriching for their scientific careers.

Beemnet at the Mouse Molecular Genetics lab, ICGEB Trieste

Beemnet Andulem Belete comes from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and is pursuing a double major in Biology and Computer Science at NYUAD where she has participated in research projects focusing on neuroscience, time perception, and psychology.

Hosted in the Muro lab at ICGEB Trieste, she has been involved in the study of mechanisms of metabolic genetic diseases, the development of therapeutic approaches ranging from pharmacological therapies to gene therapy and gene editing, using transgenic and engineered models of human syndromes such as the Crigler Najjar.

In the future, I aspire to forge a career in neuroscience, where I intend to further expand my scope to the intricate mechanisms of diseases. Building upon the techniques and knowledge acquired during my time at the ICGEB, I aim to employ research methodologies and techniques necessary to understand various neurological disorders.

Beemnet Andulem Belete
Tomiris at the ICGEB Trieste Cardiovascular Biology lab

From Astana, Kazakhstan, Tomiris Doskhozhina is a third-year student at NYUAD pursuing a biology major. At ICGEB Trieste, she is in the Cardiovascular Biology Lab under the mentorship of Giulio Ciucci, to investigate the role of mechanical stimulation on the growth and proliferation of cancer cells in an Engineered Heart Tissue model. 

She plans to continue her studies in the field of medical biotechnology or biophysics to address the issue of modern diseases.

I am embracing this ambiguity as I explore various biology fields and read literature to discover the direction that resonates closest to my heart.

Tomiris Doskhozhina
Safeeya at the Molecular Pathology lab, ICGEB Trieste

A final-year undergraduate student at NYUAD from Dubai, UAE, Safeeya Alawadi studies Engineering with a focus in Biomedical and Health Systems. At ICGEB Trieste, within the Molecular Pathology Lab headed by Dr. Emanuele Buratti she has been investigating the functional role of a protein in the context of the TDP-43 pathology in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Frontotemporal lobar degneration (FTLD). She has been using natural substances like avocado oil to understand whether they can decrease TDP-43 aggregation, a key feature in the pathophysiology of ALS.

In the future she intends to work in the field of biosensors, and is currently developing a wearable biosensor with the capability to detect flareups in Lupus patients by accurately measuring essential inflammatory markers during periods of heightened disease activity. Her most passionate project is an advanced biosensor for long-term thyroid level monitoring. This transformative device aims to empower individuals managing thyroid disorders by providing a closed-loop system that precisely measures hormone levels and delivers them non-invasively via a transdermal patch.

My engineering background, coupled with the valuable experience gained at ICGEB, has equipped me with essential skills in synthetic biology, enabling me to build sophisticated biosensors that seamlessly interface with the human body. I am driven by the desire to make a positive impact on healthcare and enhance the lives of those living with chronic conditions.  

Safeeya Alawadi
Rahul with his colleagues from the Tumour Virology lab, ICGEB Trieste

From Kathmandu, Nepal, Rahul Shrestha is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Biology at NYUAD.  During his internship at the Tumour Virology Lab he worked under the guidance of Dr. Oscar Trejo Cerro, investigating the association of HPVE7 and membrane proteins. He also received guidance from Sannia Farrukh (PhD student and fellow NYUAD Alumna, class of 2019), Dr. Nezka Kavcic, Dr. Miranda Thomas and Dr. Lawrence Banks, Group Leader and ICGEB Director-General.

This has been an amazing learning opportunity as I have acquired several experimental techniques such as Western Blot, DNA proliferation, Transfection, SiRNA, Cell seeding, PCR, and Genomic DNA extraction.  Through this summer internship, I have had first-hand experience of life in a molecular biology lab, thus deciding to pursue a PhD program upon graduation.

Rahul Shrestha
Khaoula at the RNA Biology lab, ICGEB Trieste

Khaoula Achab is from Morocco and studies computer engineering at NYUAD, where she is involved in research in the STEM Cell lab given her interest in the applications of Computer Engineering in Biology.

At ICGEB Trieste, she is learning lab techniques in RNA Biology including gel preparation, PCR and cell counting. Upon completing her studies, she plans to pursue a career in Research and Development within biotech companies.

As we celebrate International Youth Day, the ICGEB training programmes continue to expand in line with the UN 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goal 4 for Quality Education.

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