THE IFCC PROFESSIONAL SCIENTIFIC EXCHANGE PROGRAMME (PSEP),
MY EXPERIENCE AT THE CARDIOVASCULAR GENETICS INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
by Dr. Wafa Omer, MBBS, MPhil, PhD (Chemical Pathology / Clinical Chemistry)
Recently I had a great experience of visiting the Cardiovascular Genetics Institute (CVG) at University College London, United Kingdom under the auspices of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC) Professional Scientific Exchange Program.
During my 6-week visit to CVG, I learnt important molecular diagnostic techniques to examine gene promoter function namely the Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay and the Luciferase Reporter Assay. I now intend to introduce these techniques in my University and train future researchers in my home country since these assays play a vital role in assessing the functionality of a gene. I interacted with a number of doctoral and post-doctoral researchers at CVG and we had productive discussions regarding our research interests and a possibility of a collaborative research endeavor.
Professor Steve E Humphries had regular meetings with me and guided me on how to achieve my research milestones in a timely manner. I am really thankful to him for inviting me to CVG and providing me with an excellent opportunity to interact with researchers in diverse fields of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine for exchange of ideas, information, technology and knowledge. I also had the privilege of getting exposure to the state-of the-art facilities that were available at CVG laboratory.
Another extremely fruitful experience during my visit was training with the Gene Ontology group at the Cardiovascular Genetics Institute, University College London, UK under the excellent guidance of Professor Ruth Lovering. I also attended a comprehensive workshop on Bioinformatics and Gene Ontology which greatly broadened my horizon as a researcher. I annotated a number of research papers and submitted Gene Ontology annotations using Protein2GO which were approved by Professor Ruth Lovering and are now available in the Gene Ontology Consortium annotation database, attributed to British Heart Foundation-University College London (BHF-UCL). I learnt about a number of bioinformatics databases and resources such as QuickGO, UniProt, Ensembl, Cytoscape and String. I actively participated in the ongoing discussions and attended many seminars held at UCL including the Department of Medicine Grand Rounds, External Speaker’s series and the UCL Advances in Rare Cardiovascular Disease Symposium.
The PSEP initiative of the IFCC is highly commendable as it facilitates the progression of the young researcher’s career and introduces the young researcher to a world of opportunities to grow, develop and excel. I want to express my utmost gratitude to the IFCC for making this experience possible. This is an ideal initiative to encourage researchers from developing countries to gain knowledge from researchers working in the more developed countries.
Outside the teaching and laboratory activities, the opportunity of experiencing the hospitality and social life of the London was another cherish able experience. Sight-seeing and tours to various parts of United Kingdom were very interesting and memorable. In the end I would like to thank the IFCC again for this wonderful learning experience and would like to encourage my fellow researchers from developing countries to make the most of this life time opportunity by applying for the PSEP under the auspices of the IFCC.
Wafa Omer and Professor Steve E Humphries
Wafa Omer and her lab colleagues at Cardiovascular Genetics Institute - University College London, UK