Student Report: Gabriel Valdebenito's Bogue Fellowship visit to Harvard | UCL Faculty of Life Sciences - UCL – University College London
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Student Report: Gabriel Valdebenito's Bogue Fellowship visit to Harvard

29 March 2023

UCL postgraduate student, Gabriel Valdebenito, spent a term at Harvard University thanks to the Bogue Fellowship. Read more about his experiences during his exchange.

Gardens at Longwood Park on the Harvard Medical School grounds.

Gabriel Esteban Valdebenito, a final year PhD student at University College London, was recently awarded a Bogue Fellowship. This scholarship programme supports postgraduate research students and post-doctoral researchers in the Life and Biomedical Sciences to visit research laboratories in the United States.

In late 2022, Gabriel participated in the programme and attended the Olivier Pourquié Lab at Harvard University in partnership with Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Under the guidance of postdoctoral researcher Lu Yan, Gabriel learned about various culture techniques to obtain myofibers from induced pluripotent stem cells derived from patients with mitochondrial mutations.

The Pourquié laboratory is a renowned research centre for vertebrate musculoskeletal axis development. Using chicken and mouse embryos as model systems, they combine developmental biology and genomic approaches to study the precursors of muscles and vertebrae's patterning and differentiation.

Although most of their work is conducted in vivo, the team is developing protocols to reproduce these early developmental processes in vitro using mouse and human embryonic or reprogrammed stem cells. They are also applying translational approaches to generate cells of the muscle and vertebral lineages in vitro from pluripotent cells to study human diseases of the musculoskeletal axis and for cell therapy purposes. 

Additionally, Gabriel is now equipped with new skills and knowledge that he gained during his time at Harvard University through the Bogue Fellowship, and he is ready to bring back these valuable insights to UCL and apply them to his ongoing research projects. Gabriel's experience at the Pourquié laboratory has not only allowed him to learn from a world-leading team but has also provided him with a unique perspective on the field of musculoskeletal axis development.

Gabriel Valdebenito at Harvard.

Speaking of his experiences, Gabriel said: "I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to visit Boston. It was a fantastic chance to meet new people, learn from them, and get a taste of the American approach to scientific research. I was also fortunate enough to experience the Halloween season and Thanksgiving Day in America for the very first time! Additionally, I was able to witness a white Christmas and was astonished by the extensive Christmas decorations throughout the city. It was an enriching adventure!"

Further information: 

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Courtesy of Gabriel Valdebenito