Friday, 27 June 2014

Letters from Berlin - 2

Week 2 in Berlin was kicked off with heavy rain all weekend, but that's OK. It reminds us of home! We spent the weekend continuing on our tourist exploration and visited sites such as Check Point Charlie and the DDR museum.

The entire week and no doubt the weeks to come have also held a buzzing atmosphere wherever we go due to Germany's success in the World Cup!

The week in the lab has been exciting; all our training has been completed allowing us to carry out experiments on our own, although our great lab team are still around to help us if we have any queries.

With the research projects full underway we have weekly goals set to try and get the most out of our 4 weeks here, this includes Nick and I splitting off onto 2 separate projects -  Nick studying further the Polyoma Viruses in badgers and I investigating the presence of herpesviruses in multiple organs of Mastomys (a rodent reservoir for the dangerous Lassa virus).

Once our week's research has been completed (and we're confident it will be), we will discuss with our supervisors Bernhard and Michael the best course of action for the next week depending on our results.

Lucy & Nick

Friday, 20 June 2014

Letters from Berlin

First news from our students working in Berlin (see last blog entry)!

We arrived in Berlin to discover that Gatwick had lost my (Lucy) suitcase along the way, probably flying for a nice holiday in the Bahamas or somewhere sunny. So I was without a suitcase for 3 days but after fighting through a few language barriers, it finally got delivered straight to the Robert-Koch institute. We spent the weekend exploring Berlin with Michael Jarvis (our supervisor at Plymouth), going to flea markets and hitting the tourist spots during a 12mile walk led briskly by Michael, which was rewarded with a traditional German beer. 

We started our work in the Lab on Monday led by Bernhard Ehlers and his team, Connie and Sonja, who fortunately speak excellent English to conteract our appalling German (although we are learning). 

The week has been spent learning the variations of techniques in PCR, Gel electrophoresis and Sequencing in this lab in comparison to Plymouth University. One of the huge differences is that PCR is not carried out in one lab, it is separated into a one way system of different labs for each step in PCR to avoid contamination.

The week successfully ended on us getting desired results from our first PCR and Gel electrophoresis searching for herpesviruses in badger samples - meaning we weren't kicked out of Berlin, as joked about (hopefully) by Michael and Bernhard, allowing us to continue in the next stages of our research, looking into variations on the virus as well as looking for herpesviruses within Mastomys samples.

Lucy and Nick (below)