Jamilya Nugmanova

Specialty: general medicine. Internship: University of Innsbruck, Institute of Molecular Biology, Austria.

Intern of the Asfendiyarov Kazakh National medical university Jamilya Nugmanova won the competition of the Yessenov Foundation’s research internships program a year ago and did her research in Austria with the grant that she received. She is 24 and hails from Kostanay. Young scientist loves singing since childhood, is now fond of archery. In her career, she strives to combine science with medical practice. A Kazakhstani shared with us the story of her victory, the process of the internship and her plans.

How was the competition for you? Why do you think you won?
I participated in such a competition for the first time and, while submitting documents, I strongly doubted that I would win. The format of the competition was unusual, especially the questions of the group interview, where it was necessary to solve a non-standard task in a team with other participants. I remember then I decided that whatever the outcome, I would behave as naturally as possible. It’s great that in addition to academic indicators, personal qualities and motivation were evaluated by the foundation’s specialists, which most likely played a role in my victory.

Jamilya, tell us about the internship.
I worked in the laboratory of Professor Dr. Frank Edenhofer at the Institute of Molecular Biology. In addition I was also supervised by PostDoc Katharina Günther. Since I am interested in neuroscience, I was offered to become part of a project studying mucopolysaccharidosis. To date, there are no drugs that can completely cure patients of this hereditary disease. But there are methods that are undergoing clinical trials – gene therapy, enzyme replacement therapy, etc. As part of our project, we modeled the disease and studied the possible therapy. We have reprogrammed the somatic cells of healthy people and patients with the disease into stem cells. I observed the growth and morphology of cells, conducted research, analyzes, and created 3D models of the disease. Scientists from different countries of the world worked in our team. Everyone had the right to vote and was always happy to help, we taught each other.

What was the benefit of the internship for you?
This was my first experience working in a laboratory. I have mastered the basic skills of working with stem cells: transplanting, dividing, changing the environment, analyzing the morphology and growth of the culture. She has mastered the methods of immunocytochemistry and flowcytometry. I independently developed the protocol of one experiment and for the first time in my professional life, I modeled brain organoids. The main result of our research was that successful reprogramming of cells into stem cells is possible. At the moment, the study is not over yet. Meetings were held in the laboratory every week, where employees presented the results of their work on various projects in the field of neurology, cardiology and hepatology. These meetings made it possible to keep abreast of current issues and research.

What were the difficulties?
You’re right, it wasn’t that easy. Before I received an invitation from the laboratory, I wrote to the professors for a long time, a lot and persistently. Although I understood that it was normal to receive refusals, it was difficult to accept. There was even a time when I was writing another letter and crying. It was only starting with the 99th letter that I began to receive the first offers for interviews, and later invitations. In total, I wrote about 160 letters. My advice to the future winners of the Shakhmardan Yesenov Foundation’s research internship competition is to have perseverance and patience. And when you receive several invitations at once, carefully weigh all the pros and cons of the laboratories and only then make a choice. My experience has shown that it is better to go to one laboratory, because during the internship period (3 months) you can have time to adapt, conduct experiments and get at least some results. Let me remind you that many scientific studies go on for years before they get the first positive results. Also, do not be afraid to say “no” to professors, because choosing a laboratory and a professor is a two-way process. The research process includes many stages. You need to be ready when you are introduced to any of them, to study all the previous materials yourself. Combining this and working in the laboratory requires a lot of effort.

How did you spend your time outside the laboratory?
We often had lunch together and treated each other to pies. Sometimes the team went to the Alps, to nature. At such meetings, I was able to get to know the laboratory staff in an informal setting and strengthen relations with everyone. I discovered that in addition to professional relationships, it is very important to do effective networking in a team. After all, when you feel comfortable in a team, you want to go to the office and work more efficiently. Besides the fact that the city I lived in was of fabulous beauty, its location was a pleasant bonus. Innsbruck is close to the borders with Germany, Switzerland and Italy, so I visited all these countries over the weekend. I also visited the concert of my favorite artist, saw Klimt’s famous painting “Kiss”, visited the house of Mozart, the birthplace of Romeo and Juliet, saw real Alpine cows, as in advertising, rode along the canals of Venice…

Jamilya, what are your plans for the next couple of years?
I am currently in my last year of medical school. After graduating from medical school, there are several options: master’s degree, residency, etc. I would like to combine the practical work of a doctor with scientific research. Therefore, I plan to apply for a master’s degree abroad, and in parallel I will take exams for admission to a residency in Kazakhstan. Time will tell what happens in the end.

Please tell us about your interests, hobbies, and activities in your free time.
I’ve loved singing since I was a kid. I prefer more melodic, lyrical songs, for example, there is always a place for Adele’s compositions in my repertoire. Recently, I discovered a new hobby – archery. The muscles of the back and arms are swinging, concentration is improving. Hitting the target, I feel like a true daughter of the Kazakh steppes.

15.01.24, Stories

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