OARSI Scholarship Recipient Experience – Annika van Hummel

As an OARSI scholarship recipient, I spent 3 great months in Boston in winter/spring 2012 at the Developmental Biology department at Harvard University, in the laboratory of Dr Yefu Li. As a third year PhD student from Sydney, Australia, I benefited greatly from the chance to live in another country (on the other side of the world!) and experience daily life a different research lab. My research area is S100 proteins in osteoarthritis, and I was able to explore the mechanics of these proteins in osteoarthritis by using the genetic mouse models from Dr Li’s lab, as well as their expertise in the mechanics of early osteoarthritis, in order to look for a link between their findings and ours. Dr Li and his team were very helpful, and I learnt a lot of new skills. Studying at another institution was very beneficial for my academic work, as it is important to see how different laboratories operate and the experience helped me become a more independent and confident researcher. As a result of this visit, there will be ongoing collaborations between our two groups. Another bonus was of course having the chance to experience another culture which I would not otherwise get to experience. The OARSI scholarship is an excellent initiative that allows young investigators to broaden their experiences, and I would recommend that all young investigators apply, not only to receive mentorship from leading researchers in the field of osteoarthritis, but importantly to see the differences and similarities of working environments around the world that will help shape their future research careers and inform future choices.