In this blog, I am going to talk about ”secondments”. The PATHSENSE programme, twice during the PhD provides short duration work experience in another university or industry, which are known as secondments.
I finished my first secondment for a month at the Structural Biology Lab of Professor Rick Lewis in Newcastle University. Sema who is another ESR just like me works on the structure of stressosome.
Stressosome is made up of a number of protein molecules. Proteins are very tiny molecules that are in constant motion. By throwing beam on these tiny molecules, scientists try to cast a big shadow of them. By looking at the shadow, they can speculate the arrangement of molecules with respect to each other. To get a sharp and clear shadow they need to reduce movement of the molecules, which is done by a process known as crystallisation.
But, where do we get our protein of interest from? Our protein is present inside the cell with other proteins and other types of molecules that we don’t want. So, we separate our protein of interest in a process called protein purification. Together with Sema, I did both protein purification followed by crystallisation, antibody purification and bioinformatics. Most of it was an altogether new experience for me.
This secondment gave me a chance to acquire new set of skills. It also helped me to correlate my project with the structure of stressosome. Secondment being in a different lab also gave me the opportunity to expose myself to a different working environment and build new relations.