A total of 22 applications were received and reviewed by the IUIS Education Committee. Three students were selected.
Ada Blidner, Institute of Oncology AH Roffo, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, PhD student in Biology
Thesis: “Effect of inflammation and hypoxia on host-tumor interactions”
“I would have to say that the FOCIS course was the best course I ever attended. The quality of the speakers was outstanding. They were carefully selected by Abul and Andy based on their knowledge, ability to teach and most important, they were the kindest.
This course helped me to understand and bring together all the immunology knowledge I had. It also allowed me to fill the information gaps I had of different subjects. And finally after every lecture, I could apply all the things they tought me into my own work. I have to say, I have like a thousand experiments I would like to try after this course.
Because I work in tumor immunology, I realize that almost every topic of the course can be related to my tumor model. And because the teachers were also the scientists, I was able to discuss with them my ideas, and they gave me advises on how to accomplish them. I already have scheduled a seminar with all the people I work with, so I can transmit what I have learned to them.I think is very important to share the knowledge, because it can help all of them as much as it helped me.
Last, but not least, I met wonderful people, all dedicated to other immunology fields, we shared ideas and, they opened my mind towards new horizons.I am still in touch with them. I thank you immensely for the ooportunity you and FOCIS gave me. I feel so lucky that I was able to attend such a wonderful course.”
Dr Suvarna Buldeo, MBCHB (UKZN),DTMH(Wits)FCPath-Clin (CMSA), MSc student in Molecular Medicine, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
Thesis: “To develop an assay that will allow the differentiation of active and non-active tuberculosis infection in the context of underlying HIV”
In 2007, my interest in pursuing a career in Clinical Immunology began. Alas, South Africa does not offer sub-speciality training in the field. I spent hours surfing the net in search of appropriate training programmes/short courses and stumbled upon the FOCIS website. The scholarship from the IUIS was made available at the most opportune time as I had just completed my speciality training in Clinical Pathology, hence receiving it was a dream come true! I had many expectations of the course and I believe that it delivered on each of them. The course was both intellectually stimulating and informative. The lecturers revealed their expertise, enthusiasm and passion for their respective fields, which maintained the interest despite the lectures being very long and often extremely complex. The course was also very well organised and catered for one-on-one question sessions with lecturers as well as time to network with the faculty and other attendees. Attending the course benefited me in the following ways:
-Increased my knowledge and understanding of core/fundamental principles in immunology that I had questions about.
-Improved my credibility to lecture in Immunology: I will lecture the undergraduate medical students, the Honours students as well as contribute a Clinical component the Basic and Advanced Immunology course hosted by the University of Witwatersrand which is attended by Clinicians and Scientists.
-The most exciting and gratifying accomplishment will be to set up a FOCIS Centre of Excellence here at the University of Witwatersrand. I have started this process and believe that we meet the necessary requirements. I believe that this centre will serve to increase the awareness for the need of post graduate Clinical Immunology training as well as increase multi-disciplinary research outputs in the field. The ultimate goal being not only to establish Clinical Immunology speciality training but to improve patient care through this process.”
Patipark Kueanjinda from Thailand, PhD student, The University of Cape Town
Thesis: “Immunopathological Characterization of Pericardial Tuberculosis”
“It was an honor to be selected as a recipient of the IUIS travel award to attend the FOCIS course. This course greatly broadened my knowledge in basic and advanced immunology and provided exposure to many renowned professors, expert in their field of study. It covered diverse aspects of immunology such as innate, adaptive, clinical, and transitional immunity. Despite the difficulty of the lectures, their teaching skills in combination with their research experience made the lectures much more interesting and easier to understand. The teaching in basic immunology served as a foundation for the advanced lectures to follow.
In advanced lectures, there were many clinical immunology cases presented. They displayed an excellent representation of transitional immunology and how knowledge obtained from basic animal research can be applied to help explaining human diseases involving immune system. Furthermore, the study of these human diseases in turn provides new insights in the immune system that could possibly lead to development of novel therapies. A number of cutting-edge technologies were also presented in the lectures providing new applications to facilitate our research.
In addition to the wonderful learning experience, this course gave me an opportunity to meet other researchers including clinicians, postdoctoral fellows, and PhD candidates. This opportunity allowed me to discuss with them various topics including research, career development, and non-research topics. The meeting with these fellow attendants was warm and enjoyable, thankfully, in part, to FOCIS staff and organizers. From this meeting, I hope that a network will be established for future research cooperation. I also hope to share my experience and knowledge from attending this course with my friends and advisors in the laboratory at Chulalongkorn University where I am pursuing my PhD and developing my career as a researcher in Thailand. Furthermore, I would encourage other candidates who are interested in immunology research to attend this FOCIS course because I believe that like me, they will gain valuable experience and knowledge from top researchers in the field.”