Judit Danis from the Department of Dermatology and Allergology, University of Szeged was a 2018 recipient of ESDR’s European Skin Science Travel Awards (ESSTA). Here she talks about how she used the grant. To apply for an ESSTA grant, please visit: LINK

ESDR: What was the purpose of your visit?
JUDIT DANIS: I wanted to experience working outside of Hungary and learn about in vivo models of psoriasis. I visited Dr. Mark Mellett at the Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Zürich to pursue a project on PRP pathogenesis. After finishing my PhD studies this travel award was a nice opportunity to get an insight how research works in other countries. Moreover, this was also a chance to forge collaboration between our groups, as we had similar research interest but different approaches.

ESDR: How was the experience of your visit and what key things did you take back to your department?
JUDIT DANIS: I enjoyed my visit in Switzerland and it was a nice opportunity to learn new laboratory skills. During my visit Dr. Mellett taught me a number of molecular biology techniques I never had an opportunity to do before and which I can incorporate into my future work (such as phospho-kinase assays and immunoprecipitation, CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing and site-directed mutagenesis) and introduced me to working with mouse models of psoriasis. I also attended a FELASA–rodent course in Basel, to be trained in working with mice. These new techniques have enhanced my research skills and I hope to introduce more in vivo research work at my home institute in the future.

ESDR: What is your research focus over the coming year?
JUDIT DANIS: My visit was the starting point to a collaboration between my home institute (Department of Dermatology and Allergology, University of Szeged) and the host institute on the comprehensive study of psoriasis and pityriasis rubra pilaris pathogenesis. With another fellowship and the help of Dr. Mellett, I am able to continue my work in Zürich for seven more months which will allow us to strengthen our collaboration. Besides our joint project, I will continue my work on long non-coding RNAs in skin biology, but I will introduce some new aspects to this topic based on my Zürich experience.

ESDR: Any other thoughts you wish to share?
JUDIT DANIS: For me Zürich, laying in the mountains with its narrow streets and winding staircases was a big change coming from the middle of the Great Plain of Hungary and I enjoyed walking in the city and hiking in the mountains in my free time. Practicing my German and English in- and outside of the lab was a great plus for me.
The ESSTA gave me not just an opportunity to learn new laboratory skills and experience a different culture, but also introduced me to a great team at the Department of Dermatology in Zürich. All members of the lab were so open and friendly to me, and besides the long working hours, we also had the chance to enjoy some beer and raclette together, and explore the Christmas markets of the city. They also invited me to a special dinner for my birthday which really made me feel like part of the team!