Ilia Timpanaro, alumnus of the Master's in Biology of Disease

Alumnus Ilia Timpanaro in front of the Hijmans van den Bergh building

"This master’s was my chance to figure out what I wanted to do in science. It is broad (topic-wise), oriented towards practice, and you can pick your own theoretical background and internships. It offers you an overview of the wide spectrum of career possibilities within science, inside and outside of academia, and the chance to interact with people in different fields during many symposiums and seminars. I found myself able to evaluate and decide on what was the best choice for me.

The skills I developed during my internships were fundamental to getting where I am today. The individual focus of the programme was also very helpful. I could always ask for guidance or give my feedback: I was listened to and had the feeling that my opinion was important.

My work now involves a lot of time in the lab doing experiments, and a considerable amount of time in front of the computer practicing bioinformatics or analysing my own data. There is a lot of interaction with other people in the institute, which is a chance to learn about topics that are very different to your own. I love the lab work: the problem-solving, the trials, and the realisation that your experiments are improving and that you are actually reaching the goal that you set yourself.

The most exciting aspect of my work is the feeling that things are always moving forward. I am doing a PhD at the Hubrecht Institute, a position I took immediately after finishing my internship here. The topic, the lab, the people, and my work are everything that I hoped for. The environment is vibrant and stimulating and inspires me every day. Whenever you need help, you get it. Everyone is open to collaborating, which optimises your own experiments. When I moved here, two years and a half ago, I could have never imagined I would find a position that suited me so well."

Elise Kessler, alumnus of the Master's in Biology of Disease

Alumnus Elise Kessler of the Master's programme Biology of Disease

“My Bachelor’s consisted mostly of coursework so, for my Master's, I really wanted to get a taste of research. The MSc in Biology of Disease gives you a lot of practical experience and is also very broad. You can choose your courses and really tailor the programme to reflect your interests.

I was interested in the medical side of biology and disease, particularly in diseases that relate to the heart. This Master’s offered excellent courses related to the heart and disease, mainly because they were taught by professors who are highly trained in their fields. As for the practical side, I ended up doing three internships. The first was in Utrecht, the second in Hong Kong, and the third in Boston at Harvard University.

Each internship had its own highlights. I found living in Hong Kong and attending the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology for four months a fantastic experience. The high point for me was probably Harvard University, where I worked for seven months. Even just being on campus gave me a sense of the opportunities there, and the enthusiasm for learning and discovery. I attended so many lectures and symposiums, there was so much going on.

All this practical experience convinced me that research really is for me. I like doing lab work, I like reading and I like writing. The internships also gave me great insights into the research going on in the cardio field.

I am now in my third year of my PhD and writing the final chapter of my thesis. My thesis is on myocardial remodelling, which is the remodelling of the heart muscle that takes place during disease. For my research, I use animal as well as patient material to examine the alterations that take place in the heart. My goal now is to do a post-doc, also in the cardiology field.”