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OUR ALUMNI: Julia von Blume, group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Germany

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30
Jan
Fri, 30/01/2015 - 09:28

OUR ALUMNI: Julia von Blume, group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Germany

I did my PhD in the Thomas Seufferelin’s lab at the University of Ulm, Germany, where I investigated the compartment-specific function of a protein kinase that is overexpressed in pancreatic cancer, known as Protein Kinase D. During my PhD I met Vivek Malhotra who inspired me to study the Golgi apparatus. I started my post doc in his lab at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) from where we moved to the CRG in 2007.

Starting my work at the CRG, I realised for the first time what it means to be in an institute with a perfect infrastructure including core facilities for imaging, proteomics, bioinformatics, and so on. It enables you to do any experiment you like, which is paradise for a researcher.

For me it was also very important to be active in a research surrounding with leading experts in their fields who were very open to discussing things and collaborating. Doing science in such an environment was very stimulating, exciting and provided the support for me to be productive and publish papers. The CRG was basically my home for 4 years and 6 months because I literally spent the day and sometimes also the night there. My personal life suffered at that time because my husband, family and friends were in Germany.

However, this was compensated for by a lab space with an ocean view and a “research family” in Vivek’s lab that collaborated closely and discussed scientific as well as personal problems at any time of the day or night. To be at the CRG in Vivek ́s lab was also key in my getting a position at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Germany. Although I now have an outstanding position, I still miss the scientific atmosphere and the people in the lab at the CRG.

From my point of view, success in science depends on several factors and since I have not yet reached the status of a permanent position it is not easy to give recommendations to younger scientists. If science is a part of you and not just a job, you should push on and fight for it. In my experience, there are crucial points that you should keep in mind:

  • Research a topic that fascinates you
  • Try to get a position in a cutting-edge laboratory with a supportive PI (support is 50% of success)
  • The most important thing is, in my opinion, to struggle and work very hard and always give more than your best in order to publish outstanding papers.
  • Take time for yourself and your friends and relax from time to time.

www.biochem.mpg.de/blume