In 2015, Cyrille Thinnes was featured in our campaign ‘Spotlight on Young Researchers’, which highlighted early-career researchers with a connection to Luxembourg. At the time, Cyrille was at the University of Oxford doing a DPhil (PhD) in chemical biology. One year on, we caught up with Cyrille!
Cyrille’s DPhil (Oxford term for PhD), which was funded by Cancer Research UK, included work on compounds called ‘8-hydroxyquinolines’. One of the compounds deactivates a protein involved in epigenetics and can be used as a tool compound for studies in physiology.
For example, one of the experiments conducted with the compound showed the death of lung cancer cells – but not normal lung cells – from the same patient, upon treatment with Cyrille’s compound, which has also been used by several collaborators for biochemical, biological, and physiological investigations.
8-hydroxyquinolines + UV light = artwork!
“While monitoring one of my reactions in the chemical synthesis lab, I noticed that my product was highly fluorescent under UV light. As I was working on the 8-hydroxyquinolines compounds at that time, I felt inspired to display 8-hydroxyquinoline as fluorescent artwork: I soaked tiny capillary glass tubes with my fluorescent compound, assembled them into the chemical structure of 8-hydroxyquinoline, and switched on the UV bulb!”
Boosting business skills
While working on his DPhil in chemical biology, Cyrille had the invaluable chance to attend Saïd Business School for a one-year course in strategy and innovation, along with the MBA students, which provided him with highly useful skills – and sparked an interest in business as Cyrille explains:
“During this time I started developing and nurturing my interests in management, and business in general.”
One year on – return to Luxembourg!
After completing his DPhil, Cyrille – a Luxembourg national – decided to return to the Grand Duchy, where he in March 2016 took up the role of Science Programme Manager for the NCER Parkinson’s disease study – an ideal role as Cyrille points out:
“Remaining a scientist at heart, my idea of an ‘ideal job’ was to build upon my scientific skills in a biomedical setting, in a management role. And then an advert for ‘Science Programme Manager’ popped up on my radar, a position which I am very fond of having been offered. The fact that this position is based in my home country was somewhat of a ‘cherry on top’.”
Are creative people better at regulating emotions, and are there cultural differences? This is one of the questions Henderika (Herie) de Vries wants to answer. Having already discovered that cultural differences impact the creative potential of children, the Dutch-Luxembourgish national hopes to understand more aspects of how our cultural circumstances can influence our capacity for creative thinking.
Climate change affects vegetation and water resources. In order to understand these changes, scientists use models – an abstract, mathematical representation of an ecological system. The challenge: Making accurate predictions under change, without ‘tuning’ models with data. We speak to Dutch national Remko Nijzink, Postdoc in the group of FNR ATTRACT Fellow Dr. Stan Schymanski at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), about his modelling work and the importance of an open science approach.
In school, we are taught three states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. The focus of University of Luxembourg PhD candidate Anjali Sharma’s research lies between solid and liquid: liquid crystal. She studies them in unusual shapes that are no larger than the width of a human hair, yet they are considered as large by the scientists of the field. As part of her research, the Indian national got an opportunity for a rare experiment: Taking her research into a zero gravity environment.
When one thinks of banks and financial institutions, the word ‘research’ may not come to mind. However, research has much to offer these institutions, for example new tools to help with delivering critical services. As part of his PhD at the University of Luxembourg, Italian national Pier Mario Lupinu researches issues related to post-resolution in banking and finance.
Divya Balakrishnan, Dipti Rani and Serena Rollo are women in science working in a field that could have a major impact on how health is managed: In the group of FNR ATTRACT Fellow César Pascual García at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), the team works on developing sensors for biochemical applications focusing on medicine.
Quantum computing is one of the hottest topics in physical sciences. As part of his AFR PhD at the University of Sussex, Luxembourg national Foni Raphaël Lebrun-Ricalens works on developing a quantum computer – a technology that has the potential to revolutionise computing. Recently, he was also asked to evaluate the science behind the ‘quantum realm’ in the final ‘Avengers’ film.
Stemming from Italy, Indonesia, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain, the members of the Experimental & Molecular Immunology Group truly are an international team. In the group of FNR ATTRACT Fellow Prof Dr Dirk Brenner at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), the team of young researchers investigates different aspects of the immune system with one common goal: Understanding how our immune system is regulated by different mechanisms – and how this knowledge can be used to combat disease.
Silvia Girardi is a sociologist with an interest in studying policies that aim to contrast poverty. As part of her joint PhD at Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) and KU Leuven, the Italian national looks at the social policies that support low-income households in Luxembourg, taking the perspectives of the citizens on the receiving end, and the social workers involved in implementation.
Why can our bodies defend itself against some diseases but not others? This is something Carole Lara Veiga de Sousa has always been eager to understand. In the framework of her PhD at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) and Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), the Portuguese national took at closer look at the microglial cells – immune cells in the central nervous system – and what impact they have on the brain’s ability to fend of infections.
Adham Ayman Al-Sayyad is a PhD researcher working on multidisciplinary cross-border project. In our article, we explore the Egyptian national’s research around the topic of laser beam joining; why his next step post-PhD would be to spend some time working in industry to understand his research topic from new angles; and his passion for bridging cultures to bring people together.