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’.”
- View Cyrille Thinnes’ publication on 8-hydroxyquinolines ‘Betti reaction enables efficient synthesis of 8-hydroxyquinoline inhibitors of 2-oxoglutarate oxygenases’
- Find out more about the NCER Parkinson study
Spotlight on Young Researchers: The challenge of getting autonomous systems to work together seamlessly
May 25, 2023
An increasing number of systems are now controlled by artificial intelligence (AI): Autonomous vehicles – such as drones or satellites – can be deployed in difficult to access places and used to gather information in real-time. Autonomous systems can also be used simultaneously and cooperate to reach better performances compared to using only one device – but not without challenges: it is no easy task to programme these entities to behave collectively as we want them to. We speak to computer scientist and researcher Florian Felten about his research in this area and the associated challenges.
November 14, 2022
When Eric Finn Schaanning was featured in Spotlight on Young Researchers in 2017, he had just defended his AFR PhD on fire sales and systemic risk in financial networks at Imperial College London. In 2017, Eric attended the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting and in 2018, won an FNR Award for his PhD thesis. 5 years after his PhD, we catch up with Eric, who has been working on cyber risks, financial and regulatory stress tests as well operational risk management – a career spanning Norway, Frankfurt and Zürich – and reflect on the value his PhD has added.
October 11, 2022
Current engineering systems have an issue: It is fragmented – process, Piping and structural design are carried out by separate teams and involves an error-prone exchange of data. A research collaboration involving public research and industry is tackling this issue by creating a unique central data hub of a plant to which all teams have access, with promising effects on efficiency.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Understanding the impact climate change has on crop-threatening insects
September 14, 2022
A type of insect known as whitefly spreads plant viruses and has devastating effects on the vegetables that we depend on and thanks to climate change their negative impact on agriculture is set to increase in the future. Current methods to protect crops depend on delicate relationships between whiteflies and their natural enemies, our crops, and microbial communities, a delicate balance threatened by climate change. Researchers are working with a ‘climate in the lab’ to get a better understanding of what could happen, with the ultimate goal to generate solutions to protect food security.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Taking disruptions into account in life cycle/sustainability assessment
September 7, 2022
Global supply networks are more complex than ever, and recent global events have shown how susceptible society is to unpredictable disturbances. Scientists are working to understand the effect disruptions have on the sustainability of productive systems with the goal to provide solutions to support decision-making.
August 23, 2022
Is it possible to use mathematical indicators to alert about natural disasters and help in the early detection of disease and health issues? Over the past 15 years, scientists have been working on bridging mathematical theory and empirical evidence to do just that. To move the science forward, a key challenge is the underlying mathematical problem, as well as determining how the indicators should be applied.
August 8, 2022
Unhealthy lifestyles – unbalanced diet and physical inactivity – are the main factor in the leading cause of death in the world: cardiometabolic disease. Our socioeconomic environment plays a role in these lifestyle choices. Over a 9-year period, researchers are looking at how socio-economic and physical environmental characteristics of residential neighbourhoods shape our physical activity, nutritional behaviour and cardiometabolic health.
July 22, 2022
Always has literature played a major role in the construction of any national identity – yet, Luxembourgish literature is very little known. Researchers are exploring the country’s literary identity, from a Francophone and a gendered perspective, with a particular focus on female writers.
July 13, 2022
Online services are designed to offer great user experiences and accommodate our needs. They can also use manipulative design strategies to push us to disclose our personal information, purchase goods and subscriptions or spend an excessive quantity of time on apps and games. Learn about ‘dark patterns’ and an interdisciplinary research effort to free the web from manipulation.
June 17, 2022
When we wrote about Miguel Olivares Mendez in the 2017 edition of Spotlight on Young Researchers, the researcher was working on an FNR JUMP project, focussing on developing algorithms for autonomous drones. The robotics scientist has continued to build his research career in Luxembourg – 5 years later, Miguel is a Professor leading a research group with a focus on space robotics.