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One Health PACT / Avans – Lab-student: Jenna van Merode

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 Jenna van Merode. I am 19 years old and currently a third-year Bachelor’s student in Biology and Applied Medical Laboratory Technology at Avans Hogeschool Breda. In the first semester of this year, I am following the specialization Patient-Orientated Research.

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

I will investigate apoptosis in Usutu virus infection in blackbirds during my specialization, using protein extraction and Western Blot on brain tissue from blackbirds. My partner (Fatima Assalhi) and I are investigating the expression of different Caspases involved in apoptosis.

What would I like to learn?

I want to learn more about the effect of the Usutu virus on its (potential) hosts and how this virus triggers apoptosis. Usutu virus has a lot in common with the West-Nile virus, which is a human pathogen. Therefore, I would also like to learn something about the effect of the Usutu virus on humans and if it can be a potential threat.

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

I want to broaden my knowledge in different directions to understand better what subjects have my interest. Viruses remain a significant threat and require much investigation to understand their mechanisms better, which is why I would like to keep learning about them in the future.

You can find me on LinkedIn:

I will now pass the baton to Fatima Assalhi