Internship opportunity at The Francis Crick Institute provided students Adele and Louise with the skills they need to succeed

Published on 19 December 2023

Two of our final year undergraduate Life Sciences students have been telling us about an exciting and unforgettable internship they had this year at The Francis Crick Institute.

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Two of our final year undergraduate Life Sciences students have been telling us about an exciting and unforgettable internship they had this year at The Francis Crick Institute in London, one of Europe's biggest labs and home to more than 1,500 scientists working to understand health, disease and how life works.

Adele Valentova (studying Biomedical Sciences) and Louise Chapman (studying Molecular Genetics) spent 9 weeks working at The Francis Crick Institute as part of our 2023 Summer Student Internship programme, and both felt they came away with invaluable skills for their future careers.

Adele Valentova

Adele Valentova

Adele is originally from Czechia but has been living in the UK since she was 3 years old. She is currently working on her honours project in Albena Dinkova-Kostova’s lab in the Jacqui Wood Cancer Centre at Ninewells Hospital. 

“Last year, I knew I wanted to do an internship to gain lab experience. I spent some time researching summer internships and eventually I stumbled across The Francis Crick Institute Summer Student Training Programme. There was a wide range of projects for students to apply for and I found a few that I was intrigued by. This programme stood out to me the most because it was paid like a job and paid for accommodation in London was provided. 

“The application process was so well organised and we got a lot of help and advice about interviews. I was offered a place for one of the projects that I applied for, and I was thrilled. I was so excited about the opportunity as it was exactly what I wanted, and my expectations were exceeded when I started. 

“The institute is absolutely incredible. Every time I walked in, I would be in awe of the place! I was supervised by Younghwan Lee, exploring the role of ROS in the adipocytes-cancer cells interaction, in Karen Vousden’s lab. Learning how to perform tissue culture, running western blots and purifying plasmid DNA are just a few of the several techniques that I grasped. One of the highlights for me was observing how harvested adipose tissue from mice, turned into primary adipocyte cells within just a few hours. 

“During my time there I got the opportunity to attend weekly inspiring talks from researchers. One of the most memorable talks was by the chief medical officer Chris Whitty, who came in to talk about global healthcare over the past 30 years. 

“One of the most rewarding aspects of the internship was the opportunity to connect with 20 other summer students, which allowed me to build new and lifelong friendships. Additionally, forming connections with fellow members of my lab group has been an amazing experience and has enabled me to establish valuable networks. 

“The internship has equipped me with invaluable skills and experience, positioning me well for future applications to Masters and PhD programs, especially with the ability to speak about my involvement in a substantial research project. I cannot recommend the internship enough as it proved to be an exceptional experience, greatly fuelling my motivation to pursue studies in the field of cancer research. I hope that my experience inspires students in the Life Sciences to consider applying for the program next year.”

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Louise Chapman

Louise Chapman

Louise is from Aberdeenshire. She originally applied to study Microbiology at Dundee, but through some great lectures and independent reading she became very intrigued in Molecular Genetics and switched to that course.

“I found out about the internship when I was searching for summer opportunities. The application was very easy - The Crick provides a list of projects and students can pick three. From there a short explanation about why you’re interested in the projects as well as a CV and university grades were required.

“Prior to travelling to London, I was very excited to be in such a lively city but was experiencing extreme imposter syndrome about working in such an amazing lab. However, when I got there, my supervisor Sandra Segura Bayona and all the members of the lab were so welcoming and really made me feel at home. I’ll never forget how the other interns and I felt walking into and being taken around the institute for the first time, the building itself really mirrors the impressiveness of the work going on inside it. 

“In my time at the Francis Crick Institute, I worked in Simon Boulton’s lab which focusses on Double Strand Break repair metabolism. However, my project was centred around telomeres. These are structures at the ends of chromosomes which shorten with each cell division. Therefore, to be able to divide indefinitely, cancer cells use mechanisms to maintain their telomere length. One of these is the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) mechanism which is based on recombining and copying telomeres. My project used a range of cellular and molecular biology assays such as growth inhibition/toxicity assays, immunoblotting, high-content microscopy and CRISPR cell line models to investigate potential novel concepts for synthetic lethality in a cancer-relevant setting.

“The highlights of the internship were working with and meeting inspiring scientists, learning new techniques, and obtaining significant results, watching interesting seminars and sharing the experience with my fellow interns who were all brilliant company. 

“The experience has cemented my love for working in the lab and my desire to go on to further education. Additionally, I developed confidence in a range of techniques, while having the great opportunity to work independently in the lab and enhance my organisational and time management skills. All of which will be essential for the future.”

Find out more about the research traineeships and internships that we offer our students in Life Sciences.

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