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One Health PACT / Avans – Lab-student: Fatima Assalhi

Sixteen 3rd year Biology and Laboratorial Research students are working on OHPACT-related projects within Avans under the supervision of teachers with OHPACT as their client. Within this part of the curriculum of the bachelor education, project based learning is essential. Together with University Utrecht (Judith van den Brand, Giuseppe Giglia, Gianfilippo Agliani) students are unravelling the role of apoptosis in Usutu virus positive blackbirds. In addition, within the collaboration with Erasmus MC (Bas Oudemunnink, Emmanuelle Munger, Reina Sikkema), students are contributing to the development of a fieldable assay for the detection of vector-borne viruses from wildlife and clinical samples and optimizing the CO1 PCR for ticks species identification. In association with the LUMC (Louie Krol), students are investigating if the Culex pipiens-complex DNA can be detected in the guts of known mosquito predators using qPCR.

Who are these students? In the upcoming weeks we will share with you who are these students and on which topics they will focus.

Who am I?

Hello, my name is Fatima Assalhi, I am currently 19 years old and I follow the bachelor’s course Biomedical Research at Avans hogeschool in Breda. I am following the specialization Patient-oriented research at the moment..

What subject will I be focussing on this semester? What will I be researching?

I am working for this semester on a project about the investigation of apoptosis in Usutu virus infection in blackbirds. I am doing this research together with Jenna van Merode and we will be using a Western blot to detect the difference in presence of caspase-3, -8 and -9 in both infected and non-infected blackbird brain tissue.  

What would I like to learn?

The Usutu-virus is known to trigger apoptosis, but I would like to learn more about how these pathways are actually activated during infection. I also think it would be interesting to know more about arboviruses in general. What impact could these viruses have on humans in the future? Especially with climate change, these viruses will not stay far away.

What do I want to do with this in the future?

There is currently much interest in the subject of viruses, and I would love to be able to continue working on this in the future. I am looking at the moment for an internship and would like to follow a minor after this semester. I find almost all fields related to research interesting, but I definitely want to do something in public health.

You can find me on LinkedIn:

I will now pass the baton to Lynn Wachelder.