What is PRIME?

PRIME is a European consortium of research institutes, medical centres, companies, and societal stakeholders that is funded through an EU Horizon 2020 grant. From 2020 – 2024, PRIME will aim to unravel the insulin-dependent mechanisms that underly both somatic conditions (i.e. type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome) and brain disorders (i.e. Alzheimer’s disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism spectrum disorders). Until now, very little attention has been paid to the role of insulin signaling in brain disorders, and the overlap (or ‘multimorbidity’) with somatic conditions.

Therefore, through PRIME, we aim to develop tools for improved diagnosis, clinical care and prevention of insulin-related lifespan multimorbidity.

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18 September 2023

Experiences of a summer secondment in Heidelberg

View over Heidelberg
Sunset seen from the 5th floor of the Human Genetics Institute

PhD student Katalin Vince from Semmelweis University, Budapest, spent two months this summer at the lab of PRIME partner dr. Simone Berkel in Heidelberg. In this blog she shares her experiences.

This year, I had the opportunity to visit the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Heidelberg. We’ve been working in collaboration with Simone Berkel and her team for several years in the framework of the PRIME project. Now, we finally had the opportunity to work together in person. I spent two months in Heidelberg, during which time I got to know new methods, and we had the chance to share our daily experiences and small technical skills that we would not have been able to do online. It became clear to me that it is a fundamental priority at the institute to always have the time and space to discuss both scientific and technical questions that arise. This was useful both for my personal professional development and for the project.

The work was fascinating from the first day when I started working with KCNQ1 heterozygous KO iPSCs. On the one hand, I generated neuronal progenitors using a method I had used before. The resulting cell lines can be used for functional studies and later differentiated in a neuronal direction. At the same time, I had the opportunity to work with another differentiation method using small molecules; this protocol made it possible to generate postmitotic neurons in 16 days. During this part of my work, I also performed a series of functional measurements to monitor neurite outgrowth using the Incucyte system. I was very fortunate because I had the opportunity to join the institute meetings, where not only did the individual students present their progress, but there was also time and space to discuss questions that arose during the work. These discussions were always very inspiring and valuable. Lab life was well organized, people from different disciplines knew each other well, and communication between team members and groups was excellent. The atmosphere was amicable and welcoming, with many foreign exchange students. Last but not least, it was a wonderful experience to be in Heidelberg, a city not only famous as a European research center but also worth a visit for its historical monuments.

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