This is the latest dispatch from a recipient of a Development Travelling Fellowship, funded by our publisher The Company of Biologists.
(Peruvian woman doing a PhD in Argentina)
Lately there is much discussion of what an exciting time it is to be a Developmental Biologist. Technologies such as CRISPR allow us to precisely modify diverse and “non-genetic” organisms, enabling understanding of the function of several genes in complex organism. Single cell analysis helps us understand heterogeneity, differentiation and identification of several new cell types. However, in some parts of Latin America such as Brazil and Argentina, state politics are cutting funding to science. In Peru, as in other Latin American countries, studying Biology is viewed as impractical and raises concern to our parents: Will you get a job? Will you make money? Are you going to be a school teacher? Even given these harsh realities, some people passionately choose to do science. To quote Frances Arnold, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2018: “It just comes! I love what I do and I enjoyed every day”. In this context, I write this note to say thank you for the Development travelling fellowship from the Company of Biologists which, without any discrimination by nationality or gender, provides a unique opportunity to travel to other labs to do new experiments and learn techniques.
This fellowship allowed me to travel from Chascomús (Argentina) to Pasadena (USA) to Marianne Bronner’s lab at Caltech, to finish the project that we started in Argentina about a tumor-suppressor microRNA, miR-203. In brief, miR-203 is epigenetically downregulated to allow the migration of the neural crest cells. Working with microRNAs, neural crest cells and chicken embryos in two different contexts (INTECh* and CALTECH) makes me realize how lucky and grateful I am with the professors that decided to do science, even in “impractical” situations, because without them I would not be writing this note. Happily, science does not discriminate and information is available for everyone. This opportunity was life-changing, not only because I had the chance to be in one of the best chicken labs but also because I met great people that will always be my friends. I also want to thank the Bronner Lab for confirming to me that science is more than papers; it is about people that are doing what they love and are inspired by the questions they want to answer, and that does not change even if you are in different parts of the world.
“Experiments are expeditions, enjoy the ride!”
To know more about my lab in Argentina please visit: lbdintech.wix.com/lbd
*Instituto Tecnológico de Chascomús
Estefanía has a paper out in press in Development – coauthored with Marianne Bronner, whose lab she visited as part of the Travelling Fellowship. You can check it out here: