Meet FEMS Research and Training grantee Quinten Ducarmon

27-08-21 Eleni Koursari

Research and Training Grants are meant to assist early career scientists in pursuing research and training at a European host institution in another country than their own country of residence.

Quinten Ducarmon: Leiden University Medical Center – Medical Microbiology (Center for Microbiome Analyses and Therapeutics), Leiden, The Netherlands

Host supervisor and host laboratory: Dr. Georg Zeller, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Heidelberg, Germany

Dates: 1 February 2021 to 31 May 2021

FEMS Member Society Membership: Royal Netherlands Society for Microbiology

I am a fourth-year PhD student working at the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands. I have an educational background in medicine, biomedical sciences and nutrition, but during my PhD I focus on investigating microbiome-mediated colonization resistance from a computational point of view.

My scientific interests are mainly in using computational tools and analyzing large data sets for improving understanding of infection biology and gastrointestinal disease in a broader perspective. Due to my broad knowledge and background in medicine, I can formulate targeted and medically relevant questions which can be answered using computational approaches. In the future I hope to keep contributing to understanding the role of the gut microbiome in various gastrointestinal diseases and infections.

After about two years into my PhD trajectory, my thesis supervisor, Prof. Ed Kuijper, advised me to look into possibilities to do a short-term internship in a world-renowned lab focusing on microbiome science. I quickly identified the laboratory of Dr. Zeller in Heidelberg which aligned well with my interests and upon contacting Dr. Zeller, he was immediately very enthusiastic! We thought of a nice research topic and I subsequently applied for the FEMS Research and Training Grant, which was granted in August 2020. We made several plans on what to concretely work on before the start of the internship, which showcased the enthusiastic supervision of Dr. Zeller.

In my research project, I worked on functional profiling of gut metagenomes, with a special focus on profiling carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes) on associating these CAZymes with several disease states.

While the visit was a bit different from ‘normal’ due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a very valuable learning experience where I learned many new techniques and gained a much better understanding of functional profiling of metagenomes. Both my supervisor in Heidelberg (Georg Zeller) and the group members were all very helpful and supportive, for which I would like to thank them! Lastly, I want to of course acknowledge the support of FEMS for making this great opportunity possible and I hope that many other early-career researchers will also be able to profit from this FEMS Research and Training Grant.’

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