Research = exchange

From the EP-lab to a basic research lab

Hallo! Wie geht’s? It’s been a while since I last posted. So long, that I even changed from speaking in Catalan to German in the work environment. “How so? Weren’t you doing your PhD in Barcelona?”, you may ask. And you’re right, but as you may know, PhD students paid by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions get the opportunity to go and do research abroad. Thanks to being part of a Marie Curie network, we can closely collaborate with all the members of that network, and try to merge the expertise from other members of the consortium in order to improve and give more depth into our research project. And this is exactly what I’ve been doing for the past two months. In order to broaden my research project, I moved from Barcelona to Freiburg. I started my secondment in Universitäts-Klinikum Freiburg in mid-January, and have been here until now, although I have to leave soon. 

The reason why I came to Freiburg is because we’d like to study conduction properties from cardiac tissue and compare these properties seen while culturing slices to those seen in the patient-scale data that we gather in Barcelona. This would allow us to be sure that what we see indirectly in patients by using MRI, ECGi or catheter maps is similar to what happens in real cardiac tissue. So you can imagine, it’s a big change in the data acquisition. I moved from being in the EP-lab everyday, working with those digitally reconstructed shells that show how the heart beats, to being in a basic research lab, working with tangible beating slices. 

On the left, I'm in the EP-lab working with patients' data. On the right, I am pipetting culture medium in tissue samples. Big change of scale!

I had never worked in a lab before. I needed some time to adapt to a new environment, but I was very eager to learn.  My pulse is not very good, and it has been difficult to master how to work with tiny samples, but having the help of wonderful researchers, such as Teresa and Marilù (ESR6 and ESR1 in the PersonalizeAF consortium), allowed me to acquire lab skills very quickly. And I have to say, doing manual work has been very fun! It helps you distract a bit from all the analysis, as well as it teaches you how to properly focus on what you’re doing so that you don’t mess up with your experiments. Who would’ve thought I’d get a bit of mindfulness at work! 

Apart from the research, doing this secondment has been enjoyable from a personal point of view. Moving to Germany, experiencing a new culture, and most importantly, finally meeting with other ESRs, has been highly gratifying. We had previously met online, but as you can imagine, it’s definitely not the same. When you meet somebody in person, your relationship can become closer. I’d like to think that by spending almost everyday together,  a professional relationship has turned into friendship, if they agree with me. This is something that makes these secondments and research an enriching part of your life. And I’m glad this is part of mine!

Finally joining with the ESRs in Germany

In a week I’ll be back to Barcelona, but I’ll take with me the experiences, the friendships and everything I learned in Freiburg, hoping to stay in touch with these fantastic researchers from a professional and from a personal point of view.

Bis bald!


If you want to join me and the rest of the network in our journey, don’t forget to follow us in our social media using the hashtag #PersonalizeAF!