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Four university students join CNIO’s International Summer Internship Programme as things gets back to normal after the pandemic


Help us to stop cancer

From left to right, Marisol Soengas, Dean of Academic Affairs at CNIO; students Adel Samir Saleh Abdelghaffar Elzemity, Francisco Javier Fernández Prieto, Irene Cornejo, and Paula Gómez. /CNIO

A total of four students (three Spanish and one Egyptian), aged between 21 and 22, will have the opportunity to participate in basic and translational research at one of the world's leading research centres

The programme, which only had one intern in 2020 and 2021 because of the travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic, is now getting back to normal

Since 2007, more than 5,000 students from all over the world have applied for the programme

The director of CNIO, Maria A. Blasco, appreciates the opportunity offered by this type of initiative to encourage international mobility that benefits research careers

Over the next few weeks, researchers from the National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) will be coming across four new, very young faces in the hallways, as four interns join their laboratories over the summer to learn how one of the world’s leading cancer research centres carries out cutting-edge science. Four students are currently completing the final stage of their degree in biomedical sciences, and after the two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they are now joining the International Summer Internship Programme that CNIO has been running since it was launched – in the early 2000s –  to experience first-hand what a career in research would be like.

“The International Summer Internships are now one of our classic programmes at CNIO,” explains Maria A. Blasco, director of the Centre. “The fact that many of the students who have completed this programme then go on to do their thesis here says a lot about how they feel about their time with us, and the importance of such programmes to encourage international mobility, which is so beneficial to a career in research.”

The programme offered by CNIO is very competitive. Since 2007 alone, more than 5,000 students from all over the world have applied to the programme. The students chosen to take part in this year’s edition are two young women and two young men aged between 21 and 22. Three of them are from Spain and one is from Egypt, and they have been chosen from more than 550 applications from 76 countries across the globe.

On 4 July, Marisol Soengas welcomed them as Dean of Academic Affairs at CNIO. “During their stay, the students will learn not just techniques,” Soengas said, “but we will also impress upon them the reasons behind our research. At CNIO, they will have the opportunity to participate in the development of competitive projects, and we believe that, with their motivation, they will make the most of this programme to decide the next steps in their career”.

These are the students taking part in the 2022 edition and the Group/Unit they are joining, where they will learn more about the relationship between cancer and the malfunctioning of essential proteins, genetic and epigenetic alterations of the genome, cellular metabolism and nutrients, and oncogenes. They will also get first-hand experience of research that has a direct impact on patients (particularly breast cancer) and work with the most cutting-edge microscopy technologies that make all of this research possible:

Adel Samir Saleh Abdelghaffar Elzemity (Nile University, Giza, Egypt) Bioinformatics Unit, directed by Fátima Al-Shahrour

“I am grateful to be part of such a large scientific community this summer. This internship has given me the opportunity to train with world-class scientists and researchers in the field of genomics and bioinformatics. I look forward to further exploring and studying in this field thanks to this wonderful opportunity.”

Irene Cornejo Pareja (Universidad Francisco de Vitoria, Madrid, Spain) Brain Metastasis Group, directed by Manuel Valiente

“During this internship, I hope to learn how to focus a research project, namely, to develop critical-scientific thinking and new techniques that will allow me to get closer to finding answers to questions that have not yet been answered. Science gives me something very valuable, which is to strengthen the capacity of human beings to name that which does not yet have a name, to discover new knowledge, and to make it known.”

Francisco Javier Fernández Prieto, Badajoz, (Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Seville), Topology and DNA Breaks Group, directed by Felipe Cortés

“I have always been fascinated by the world of molecular biology. This, together with the current challenge posed by cancer to the scientific community, led me to participate in this very interesting project organised by CNIO. I am motivated and ready to make the most of this experience thanks to the wonderful professionals who work here and who will undoubtedly help me grow as a future scientist”

Paula Gómez Plana (Universidad Carlos III, Madrid, Spain), Bioinformatics Unit, directed by Fátima Al-Shahrour

“For me, this summer internship programme is a great opportunity to learn how a research centre like CNIO operates. I am really grateful for this opportunity, and I hope to gain a great deal of knowledge about the genomic resources of cancer in the Bioinformatics Unit. I am sure that this experience will contribute to my professional and academic development as well as my personal growth.”

For more information: CNIO International Summer Internship Programme

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