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HKU-Pasteur Fellowship: "I had a fantastic time at Institut Pasteur"

Wanying, PhD student from HKUMed recently completed her internship at Institut Pasteur, at the Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Analytics G5 Unit under the supervision of Dr Michael White. Read more about her experience!

From when to when did you complete a research internship at Institut Pasteur under the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole Fellowship scheme?

From September 5th until December 4th 2022.

Why did you want to apply for the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole Fellowship?

Because I saw it as a good opportunity for me to learn new methods and different ways of doing research in other labs. It helped me broaden my horizons and learn things outside of my special areas. An awardee of the 1st round of the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole Fellowship, highly recommended me to apply since he said he learned a lot from his internship and had a good time in France.

According to you, what is one of the most important thing you have learnt?

The most important thing I've learned is the importance of balance and efficiency. People in Paris are likely to work very flexible hours. They could arrive at 10:00 a.m. and leave at any time. They can also work from home or go for a walk if they want. They are, however, extremely efficient. They use the limited time to complete numerous tasks with higher concentration. I learned from them that we should pay attention to our work and relax more to keep our brains in good condition. Time spent is less important than efficiency. Work-life balance benefits not only our physical, emotional, and mental well-being, but it is also beneficial to our careers.

Will you recommend this research internship at the Institut Pasteur to your colleagues/other students?

Sure. I had a fantastic time in Michael White's lab at Institut Pasteur. They are extremely friendly and took good care of me. I not only learned new methods for analyzing data that I hadn’t used beforehand, but I also improved my ability to communicate with others. I participated in a variety of activities, including the department retreat and the PvSTATEM project conference. During these activities, I learned how to present our work and how to communicate with others. It helped me grow up.

Furthermore, it was a fantastic opportunity for me to take a tour of Europe through many vacations thanks to easy transportation. By traveling, I could not only relax but also broaden my knowledge circles. I learned many things such as the customs of different areas, their origin, local food and so on. Besides, I made many friends and travelled with them which made me more outgoing and happier.

How can this research internship contribute to your professional training?

I used to study genetics and was familiar with sequencing data, but not with serological data. Michael's lab investigates the epidemiology of infectious diseases using multidisciplinary research tools. During this time, I received extensive training in handling serological data and learned how to detect pathogens using antigen assays rather than sequences. Furthermore, machine learning is a good method that can be used in a variety of situations. I can now apply this method to my research project and conduct my study from a different angle.

What are your plans for the near future?

Using these different antigens, I want to use machine learning to select antibodies and detect different types of Arbovirus. We may develop an antigen assay to detect various arboviruses based on these works. Furthermore, as part of my PhD project, I am investigating the genetics of the influenza virus, and serological data will be useful to fulfil my research.


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