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One Health PACT / Avans – Lab-student: Femke Laarakker

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?

My name is Femke Laarakker, and I am 20 years old. I am a student in my third year of study Biomedical Research at Avans Hogeschool ATGM at Breda. This semester, I chose the specialization Patient-oriented Research.

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

The project on which I will be focusing this semester is about the surveillance of Arboviruses. In collaboration with my project partner (Sam van der Ploeg) and Erasmus MC, we will create a fieldable technique to detect these Arboviruses. We will focus on detecting the viruses via the Qubit so that there is no need for gel electrophoresis after a PCR anymore.

What would I like to learn?

I would like to learn more about Arboviruses and the effect of possible outbreaks. I am also very excited about the (for me) new techniques that we will use to make the detection of these viruses more fieldable. I think this project may make a difference in the surveillance of these viruses and can significantly impact public health.

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

I would like to expand my knowledge about the Biotech side of  Patient-oriented Research. The techniques that we will use are pretty new to me, and this is a great way to expand my knowledge. Viruses also are an interesting subject about which I would like to learn more. This project is a great way to expand knowledge in a way that may help public health.


You can find me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/femkelaarakker/

I will now pass the baton to Jenna van Merode

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One Health PACT with project number 109986 is (partly) financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO).