9 March 2023 – In 2019, oral pathologist Constanza Marín-Márquez – an assistant professor at Andrés Bello National University in Viña del Mar – moved from her home country Chile to the United Kingdom to pursue a PhD at the University of Sheffield. There, she set out to analyze genomic and transcriptomic data from a rare and aggressive tumor of the jaw in hopes to find new therapeutic targets. But a few months into her project, Marín-Márquez started to struggle with some bioinformatics analyses. Her PhD supervisor suggested that she check whether EMBO offered financial support to spend time in a laboratory that could help her with the analyses.
Marín-Márquez contacted a computational genomics group led by Núria López-Bigas at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Barcelona and secured an EMBO Scientific Exchange Grant. The grant allowed her to travel to Spain and spend a week in López-Bigas’s lab, where Marín-Márquez received support and expert feedback. She also had the opportunity to meet scientists from different backgrounds with whom she may collaborate in the future. Marín-Márquez went back to the UK with renewed confidence and enthusiasm. Since then, she always keeps an eye on EMBO events and funding schemes. “All the opportunities that they offer – in terms of travel grants, fellowships, courses – are very useful, especially when you’re starting your career.”