Report on DAAD Rise Scholarship Summer 2022

Internship: Investigating the functional potential of single bacterial isolates in the context of inflammatory bowel disease: Broad insights into the phenotypical characterisation of the beneficial gut bacterium B. longum

I applied for the DAAD Rise 2022 internship program and I was happy to get the scholarship funding together with Gretchen Ruschman from the University of Kentucky. At her home university she studies Agricultural and Medical Biotechnology and Microbiology starting her third year. Gretchen started her internship mid-May and left Germany 2.5 months later at the 5th of August. She helped me with my PhD project during her internship, investigating the growth of Bifidobacterium longum in different physiological relevant conditions. B. longum is an anaerobic, gram positive, often branched rod shaped, beneficial gut bacterium, which is used as probiotic. The bacterial growth is observed with a multiplate reader, using a unique method to seal the 96-well plates anaerobe and air tight inside of the anaerobic workstation before bringing them into oxic conditions. We tested the growth on different pH, different media types and providing various sugars as carbon source. Additionally, we took subsamples for electron microscopy pictures and conducted protein and metabolome lysis. Furthermore, I introduced her to other parts and methods of my project, such as qPCR, Maldi TOF and Gram staining. One of our highlights was attending the PMI Cluster lecture on the 21.06. from Prof. Dr. Sidhartha Sinha (Stanford University Medical Centre, USA) concerning the topic “The Intestinal Microenvironment in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Translational studies in IBD“ and afterwards going to Kiel week together.

For me personally it was a great experience being a supervisor for the first time; also giving me the chance expanding international experience. Gretchen said she enjoyed conducting clinical research outside of her home University and experiencing the scientific community here in Germany.

Gretchen is going to compete at the “5 min fast track” oral research competition at her university in October, presenting this internship and miTarget on an international level.

Author: Kathrin Schäfer

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