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’.”
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At KU Leuven, Luxembourg national Jill Kries is part of a research team driven by understanding how cognition and brain structure develop over time in language-related disorders and how this knowledge can be applied in a clinical or educational setting. We take a closer look at the work of the young team.
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Floods across the world have resulted in tremendous economic damage and loss of lives: better tools to predict flood rise and recession are needed. The biggest question facing researchers like Mohammad Zare is how to accurately simulate and predict this complex phenomenon. As part of an Industrial Fellowship between the University of Luxembourg and company RSS-Hydro, the Postdoc Works on improving the simulation and prediction of flash floods, with the goal to develop a decision-making model for flood protection in Luxembourg.
As part of her Industrial Fellowship – a collaboration between the University of Luxembourg and company Husky – PhD candidate Yamila Mariel Omar helps industry to monetize their proprietary data by means of big data analytics. We speak to the Argentinian national who also became a mother during her PhD.
Excessive use of fertilisers in agriculture has led to nitrogen pollution, and calls for bio substitutes are getting louder. PhD candidate Bella Tsachidou from Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) gathers scientific evidence on the benefits of biogas residues and their suitability as biofertilisers, while providing support for the modification of nitrogen-policies on European and global level.
In the current situation of legal uncertainty, PhD candidate Antonio Ancora’s research at the University of Luxembourg aims to improve tax certainty in the context of state aid investigation on Transfer Pricing transactions among multinational enterprises.
Paul Johanns works in a research field one does not read about every day: knots. As part of his AFR PhD at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the Luxembourg national combines high-precision model experiments, computation and theory to untangle the influence of topology on the mechanics of complex knots, particularly those used in surgical procedures.