Pelican grant awarded to two LIH PhD candidates

Anne Dirkse and Carole Sousa from the NorLux Neuro-Oncology Laboratory of LIH’s Department of Oncology were two among the four PhD candidates that received this year’s Pelican Grant from the ‘Fondation du Pélican de Mie et Pierre Hippert-Faber’.

The foundation under the aegis of the ‘Fondation de Luxembourg’, was established in 2010 by the retired pharmacist Pierre Hippert. Its chief objectives are to support biomedical and biotechnological research in Luxembourg as well as national institutions in the field of art and letters. Since 2011, the foundation yearly awards a number of applying PhD candidates affiliated to the Doctoral School in Systems and Molecular Biomedicine with a grant of 15.000 €. The grant is meant for expenses related to training and career development. It can thus be used for travel, accommodation and registration costs for conferences, workshops and courses or to finance short-term stays abroad in the frame of research collaborations. ‘We are very honoured to get support from a Luxembourgish foundation for building our scientific career.’ tell the two awardees.

Anne Dirkse is in the second year of her PhD and works on the adaptive capacities of putative cancer stem cells in malignant brain tumours. ‘The cancer research field is very dynamic’, she states. ‘Regular participation to conferences on neuro-oncology and stem cells is therefore a must. Thanks to the Pelican Grant I will be able to attend two important annual scientific meetings taking place in the United States.’ Anne also intends to do several internships abroad to acquire new technical skills. ‘I will stay for three months at the Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre in Toronto, to analyse the interaction between cancer and stromal cells and their influence on angiogenesis and invasion.’ she tells eagerly.

Carole Sousa is also highly enthusiastic about the training opportunities offered by the Pelican Grant. The second year PhD candidate works on microglia, glial cells in the brain which are key mediators of neuroinflammation. With her research project, she aims to elucidate the effects of Parkinson’s disease familial mutations in microglia polarisation. ‘I would like to attend the Keystone Symposium “Microglia in the Brain” in Colorado next year to present my work’, she explains. ‘Concerning internships to acquire new technical knowledge, I already planned two stays abroad, one at the University of Tübingen in Germany and another one at the University of Oxford in the UK.’