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Travel Story: Reuben Jacob

ReubenJacobReuben Jacob from the Robinson Research Institute’s Comparative Genome Biology Research group attended The Non-Coding Genome Conference, Heidelberg, Germany, in October.

Reuben presented on his research piRNA Pathway in Cancer: Novel Functions or Promiscuity?

This is what Reuben had to say about his experience:

What was a highlight of the conference?
Dr Julius Brennecke’s talk on the title “Genetic and mechanistic diversity of piRNA 3’end formation in Drosophila”. He spoke about his lab’s work on successive and phased Zucchini dependent and independent cleavage of piRNAs. This work elucidated the 3’ end formation of piRNAs.

Please provide details on any researchers or collaborators of significance that you met at the conference and why they are important to your work?
I had the opportunity to discuss my work with Dr Radha Raman Pandey, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Pillai lab who spearheads work on the molecular mechanisms involved in piRNA biogenesis. We had a great conversation talking about each other’s work. I also had the opportunity to interact and discuss ideas with a couple of PhD students working on the piRNA pathway in ovarian cancer.

Did you visit any other labs or research facilities? Please provide a brief summary including how these visits will be useful to your work and/or career development?
I visited the Institute of Experimental Pathology (IEP) at the University of Münster. IEP work predominantly on non-coding RNAs in disease and evolutionary contexts. They have extensive experience and expertise in various aspects of small non-coding RNA biology. This blended well with my own interests on the roles of small non-coding RNAs in disease especially cancer.

As part of the visit, I presented a talk entitled “piRNA pathway in the Mammalian Ovary and in Ovarian Cancer: Lessons learnt from the Egg-Laying Mammals” to the Institute. This was a great opportunity to talk about my work to the staff and students of the Institute, which was followed by a good networking session. The visit also enabled me to hone my networking skills and I also got valuable career advice.

How has the experience supported you and your research?
The conference gave me the opportunity to discuss my work with experts in piRNAs and in non-coding RNAs. We discussed my data, experimental design and received lots of feedback, which will be very useful going forward. An experiment that I’m currently doing to validate piRNAs in our ovarian tumour samples, came out of discussions during the poster session of the conference.

What was the most exciting thing you learned/experienced at the Conference?
Information about novel cutting-edge techniques that could be used for small RNA research. I also had the opportunity to discuss the techniques with the people who presented them and get first hand advice.

What was the most interesting or unexpected moment of your travel?
Everyone including experts in the field was very approachable, friendly and helpful. I received career advice and information on funding opportunities around the world.

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