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9.8.2023 | Hochschule für Life Sciences

Laura Suter-Dick's report of her Sabbatical, at the Fundación Instituto Leloir, Buenos Aires

During her stay at the Fundación Instituto Leloir in Buenos Aires, between March and June 2023, Laura was part of the Group around Eduardo Castaño and Laura Morelli investigating brain aging and neurodegeneration, with a research focus on cellular events related to Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, Laura was able to participate as a presenter and as an attendee at the institutional research seminars, where she made contact with top-class researchers from Argentina and abroad.

«I went on a four-month sabbatical to Argentina where I was excellently received as a guest scientist at the Fundación Instituto Leloir (FIL) in Buenos Aires. The FIL was founded by Nobel Laureate Federico Leloir (1906-1987), who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1970) for his discovery of the metabolic pathways by which carbohydrates are synthesized and converted into energy. He established and directed the institute, supported by public and private financing. Until now, the FIL maintains an unparalleled scientific performance in Argentina and internationally.
The FIL has currently 24 research groups, made up of more than 170 people, whose areas of work are neurosciences, cell biology and cancer, infectious diseases, plant biology and structural biology. During my stay, I could attend very interesting scientific seminars on a variety of topics and made contacts with top scientists from Argentina and abroad.

As planned, I joined the laboratory of Eduardo Castaño and Laura Morelli, whose research focuses on brain aging and neurodegeneration. We found many complementarities using animal, clinical, and cell-based models. During my time at the FIL, I engaged in interesting scientific discussions around cellular events related to the development of amyloidosis and Alzheimer’s disease. In lively and challenging group meetings we discussed working hypotheses (e.g. mitochondrial impairment), methodological aspects and results from ongoing experiments. In addition, at a well-attended institutional seminar, I was also able to share some of my experience in developing and implementing in vitro systems for a variety of applications.

Maintaining the collaboration in the future
As a follow-up of my stay, we aim at continuing working together, involving our respective PhD students. To this end, we have already submitted a grant application for funding collaborative research (Swiss-Latin American collaboration grant) and we are keeping our fingers crossed. In the mid-term, we would like to submit a joint application to the SNSF. Moreover, first exchanges involving Abdullah Kahraman and Fidel Lozano have been started to support data analysis aspects related to epigenetic markers in the hippocampus of transgenic animals (carrying mutations on APP and available at the FIL).

In addition to the interactions within the FIL, I was honored to be invited by Maria Laura Gutiérrez to visit the Laboratory for Alternative Methods (EBAL) at the Faculty of Medicine (University of Buenos Aires) and by Patricia Saragüeta from the Institute of Experimental Biology and Medicine (IBYME). In both institutions, I could present my research interests in the form of seminars.

As said, many interactions were initiated as demonstrated by the visit of Martina Benedetti to our FHNW Campus in Muttenz, the planned visit of Patricia Saragüeta in the fall and the joint grant application. The established contacts may facilitate further exchanges in the future, as all three labs were open to hosting bachelor students. In addition, the ongoing collaborations will enable us to generate data for joint publications in the mid-term.

I am ever so thankful to the FHNW School of Life Sciences for giving me the opportunity to take this sabbatical. Also, I want to express my immense gratitude to the people involved at the FIL (especially the director Angeles Zorreguieta, the group leader Eduardo Castaño, and the PI Laura Morelli) for making my stay pleasurable and fruitful.»

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