My Lab Internship in Vienna

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Friday, January 25, 2013
Jasmin Nelles

I came to Vienna for a lab internship I was offered by Tim Clausen and his lab at IMP for two months. Tim Clausen and his group members are concerned with the research of molecular mechanisms of protein quality control.

I am living here for three weeks now and I really like it! Right from the beginning people were very friendly and welcoming and I felt absolutely comfortable around them. Working in the lab was fun and I also learned a lot. I had great supervisors but was also allowed to work independently as far as possible.
I worked on HTRA1 protease and its complex formation with a1-Antitrypsin inhibitor. The final goal was to generate crystals to be able to work out a complex-structure by X-ray crystallography. I started with purification of HTRA1 via affinity chromatography and gel filtration. I got 34 mg of protein – not too bad for my first HTRA1 purification! It was great to work with different FPLCs, with and without supervision, which helped me getting really into working with these cool machines correctly and independently. All in all I have the feeling that this internship contributes a lot to me working autonomously in general.

Last week I also started characterising the complex further by doing SECs, different protein assays and digestions. I also learned some techniques that were new to me, like ion exchange chromatography. Next week I am supposed to start with some first crystallisation trials. This is really exciting!
Today I had to present my preliminary results in a progress report. It worked out fine. I got a very good and constructive feedback, resulting in many ideas how to proceed my work the next weeks.

Moreover, Vienna is an exciting city to live. There are so many historical buildings like the St. Stephen's Cathedral and the castles, from which Schönbrunn is the most beautiful place. To all Sisi fans I would recommend to go and see the “Hofburg” with the Sisi museum. I found it kind of kitschy but it is worth having a look. But wherever you are in Vienna, you really cannot get enough of keep looking at all the beautiful sights. One of my favourites is the Old National Library. It is pretty small but owns many antique books (and also globes and shelves etc.) that make you want to read through all of them – unfortunately you are not allowed to touch anything.
Another highlight is the Spanish Court Riding School. As I am into horse riding mainly all of my life I spend a lot of time at the Spanish Court Riding School. The style of horse training was originally developed for fighting in wars. It is really interesting to watch it as it is practiced in only very few exclusive places. I also visited the stables and the horses. It was nice to see that these famous and beautiful horses are still just normal horses looking out for some goodies.