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Ute Häussler in the lab of Antoine Depaulis in Grenoble, France

Ute Häussler in the lab of Antoine Depaulis in Grenoble, France

During my PhD-thesis, which was organized as binational agreement (‚cotutelle de thèse’) between the University of Freiburg and the Université Joseph-Fourier in Grenoble, I had the chance to spend 13 month between April 2004 and May 2005 in the lab of Antoine Depaulis in Grenoble, supported by the DAAD. My PhD project, supervised by Ulrich Egert, Antoine Depaulis and Ad Aertsen, was focused on identifying the mechanisms underlying the generation of epileptic seizures in a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy, which recapitulates the main features of the human disease. Although a collaboration between the labs in Grenoble and Freiburg had existed already at that time, the technique to induce epilepsy in those mice had not made it’s way to Freiburg till then. In Grenoble I had the chance to learn intrahippocampal kainate injections, stereotaxic implantation of electrodes, in-vivo recordings and could collect lots of results, which were published in the following. Furthermore, being for the first time in a ‘real’ epilepsy lab, which worked in close collaboration (regular seminars, common projects etc.) with the neurological unit at the university hospital in Grenoble, I learned a lot about epilepsy, its underlying mechanisms, it’s implication for patients and, in particular, how much knowledge is still lacking about the disease but urgently required for optimizing therapeutic approaches. Besides lab work, I also had the opportunity to take part in a number of courses belonging to the local PhD curriculum, among others a course on patent law and a seminar on perspectives for (French and international) scientists in the French scientific landscape. Especially their unusual content and orientation towards one’s future made these courses very useful.

I enjoyed the time in Grenoble very much, my colleagues gave me a warm welcome, patiently endured my mistakes in French language, and some became really good friends until today. In addition, Grenoble and its surroundings offered a wonderful place to stay at.

Being back at the BCCN in Freiburg, I kept close contact with my supervisor and the group in Grenoble, and, in addition, introduced the experimental techniques that I learned in Grenoble also at the BCCN Freiburg. Finally, in 2007, I submitted my PhD thesis with a committee of 3 German and 3 French reviewers - a nice opportunity for everyone to meet. In conclusion, I recommend taking the effort of doing such a binational thesis based on my valuable experiences and, accordingly, consider another scientific stay in France in the future.

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