Published: 06 March 2014

Veterinary Biosciences internship – Jess Powell

The top four first year students on our Veterinary Biosciences degree have the opportunity to take a funded overseas internship in either America or Brazil. Jess Powell spent 10 weeks at North Carolina State University.

Veterinary Biosciences student Jess Powell describes her summer research internship at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in America. She was joined on the trip by fellow Veterinary Biosciences student Anna Dent.

"I did so much during the 10 weeks I spent in America. A large majority of my time was spent in the lab at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. I was given parts of a project investigating the role of the gene TRIM9 on the innate immune system. One part involved developing transgenic zebrafish which express a truncated version of the TRIM9 gene and a Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP).  I screened them using a fluorescence test and those that were positive for the plasmid had fluorescent green hearts, due to the expression of GFP. I then sampled the RNA from the fish and performed a Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) to compare the expression of TRIM9 in the transgenic zebrafish to the wildtype fish.

A second part involved culturing cells of the human HL-60 cell-line; a cell-line which was established from the peripheral blood leukocytes of a patient with promyelocytic leukaemia. I exposed the cells to different chemicals which mimicked immune stimulation by bacteria and viruses over a 24-hour time period. I then extracted RNA from the cells every 4 hours and performed real-time PCR, identifying the effect of immune stimulation on the expression of TRIM9. The work in the lab was very interesting and although initially the project seemed quite daunting, my mentor helped me learn each new procedure before allowing me to do them on my own without supervision.

My time wasn’t just spent in the lab. A fellow University of Surrey student and I travelled up to New York and Washington for three days, which was an amazing experience. We also went on a trip to the beach, a tour of a wildlife conservation centre, to a Killers concert, a college football game and a baseball game.

The overall experience was incredible and something I would definitely recommend to others that are offered the same opportunity."

Find out more about Veterinary Biosciences at Surrey and read the blog from Veterinary Biosciences student Anna Dent

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