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Immunology Students From Around the World Present Novel Research Findings

Posted on 07 July 2014

Postgraduate immunology students at Trinity College Dublin presented their research findings to members of the Department of Immunology, peer researchers and a panel of judges at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI) on 4 July. Trinity College Dublin is internationally renowned for immunology research and attracts students from a range of scientific backgrounds. A third of students on the MSc in Immunology course hail from outside of Ireland. This year’s crop of researchers tackled projects including investigating the mechanisms used by the Hepatitis-C virus on the immune system to the role of estrogen-regulated MicroRNAs in Lupus. The international students cited Trinity’s high rankings in immunology teaching and research, as well as the close hospital collaborations offered, among their reasons for electing to complete their postgraduate study at Trinity.

Originally from New Dehli, Gaurav Verma enrolled in Trinity after completing a degree in biomedical science at Dublin Institute of Technology. He chose Trinity's MSc programme to take advantage of new, progressive techniques in immunology. He will use his new skills in his diagnostics work in a pathology lab. Another Indian student, Nidhi Mehta, chose to come to Ireland after studying at Nagpur University because of its small size relative to other English-speaking countries. She found the academic system at Trinity to be quite different from her experience in Nagpur, with greater access to professors and a more collaborative, less-hierarchical structure.

Two American students on the course, Christiane Urgena from Chicago and Catherine O’Brien from Connecticut, both found Trinity’s MSc in Immunology to be highly cost-effective compared to longer, more expensive programs in the US. Urgena was looking to increase her medical science knowledge after completing her undergraduate degree in ecology. O’Brien, who was first attracted to Trinity’s high ranking for immunology research, had difficulty finding comparable immunology programmes in the US. She intends to return to the US for medical training and found Trinity’s collaboration with Dublin hospitals to be invaluable to her research. TBSI houses one of only two labs that receive samples of the medium used to transport organs directly from hospitals. Trinity’s lab enabled her research on liver transplantation.

Like several of the international students in this year’s MSc in Immunology class, Yulia Zhitnyuk from Russia knew someone living in Ireland before she applied. She had visited Trinity and was drawn to its historic, city-centre campus. The MSc in Immunology offered her the lab skills she needs for future PhD research, as well as a greater understanding of inflammation. Ashanty Melo, a graduate from Universidad de las Américas in Puebla, Mexico, had also visited before applying and chose to study at Trinity because of its global reputation as top research university. David Chaima, a student from Malawi, was attracted to the growing body of novel research being done in immunology. He completed a project on how the body responds to the Hepatitis-C virus and the mechanisms the virus uses to suppress immunity. He plans to return to Malawi and is confident that his degree from Trinity will help further his career in medical laboratory science.

The research mission of Trinity’s School of Biochemistry and Immunology is to discover the fundamental mechanisms that underlie human disease. The School engages multi-disciplinary approaches to push the boundaries of discovery by promoting the translation of basic research discoveries into therapies and treatment. Dr. Nigel Stevenson, assistant professor and coordinator of the MSc in Immunology, understands the international appeal of such vibrant and vital research and looks forward to continuing to welcome students from all over the world. The MSc in Immunology is a one-year taught masters course, designed for graduates aiming to pursue careers in academic research, medicine or the pharmaceutical industry. The course is open to scientific, medical, dentistry and veterinary graduates who wish to progress form introductory level Immunology to advanced clinical and applied Immunology.