Welcoming Australian students for research internships in France!

Launched as a pilot program in 2017, the Nicolas Baudin “Internship in France” offers students from participating Australian universities the opportunity to undertake a research internship at a French host university.

  • 12/04/2018

Intern Jesse McNamara and Prof. Aksam Merched at work! Intern Jesse McNamara and Prof. Aksam Merched at work!

Nicolas Baudin “Internship in France”

Since its launch, the University of Bordeaux participates in this initiative (co-funded by the Embassy of France in Australia, the hosting university in France and the home university in Australia), which aims to:

  • Increase student mobility from Australia to France
  • Contribute to the attractiveness and promotion of the French higher education and research systems
  • Strengthen student mobility within French-Australian scientific collaborations; initiate longer-term collaborations through student stays
  • Contribute to the reconciling of the Australian university sector with the industry sector and promote the quality of interactions between universities and industry in France

The University of Bordeaux welcomed six Australian interns in 2017/2018, and is proposing five internship opportunities for the year 2018/2019. Read on to discover just one of these very positive experiences!

A Franco-Australian experience in Bordeaux

Aksam Merched, Professor of Cell Biology and Pharmaceutical Sciences and group leader at the Inserm U1035 (miRCaDe team) welcomed Jesse McNamara (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia) for a six-month internship on the topic of tumor metabolism in pediatric liver cancer.

What is the topic of the research internship?

AM: The project of this internship aims at understanding the impact of certain metabolic changes in tumor cells, which accelerates their growth compared to healthy tissues. This understanding will help us find potential targets for future therapeutic intervention. The internship provides training on several research tools related to liver cancer and the trainee learns molecular and cellular methods applied to the understanding of the physiopathology of cancer. He gains experience in designing and performing research experiments as well as in the critical interpretation and presentation of data.

Outside of the laboratory, he may of course enjoy the benefits of living in Bordeaux which includes drinking slightly fermented “grape juice” and eating not-very-sterile French cheese…!

Why did you partake in the "Internship in France initiative"?

AM: We took part in the Nicolas Baudin “Internship in France” program to further extend the international dimension of our already international research team to Australian students. Thanks to this initiative, we were able to host Jesse McNamara, a graduate student from RMIT. Jesse had the opportunity to integrate our research laboratory, learn from different researchers and students and contribute to our research activity in pediatric liver cancer.

JM:  The Nicolas Baudin “Internship in France” represented an incredible opportunity that would contribute to my master’s degree whilst also giving me invaluable laboratory experienceI could not be happier with the experience – from an academic and a personal perspective. Bordeaux, as well as the surrounding region is beautiful; the city is of human-size and the trams remind me of my home city, Melbourne!

I participated in this initiative as it responded to a long-held dream of mine to study overseas.

Jesse McNamara —

What have you learned thanks to this initiative?

AM: Jesse added an Australian touch to our team by sharing his cultural and scientific perspectives. He is a quick learner, critical thinker and full of resources. I hope this initiative will facilitate future communications with our colleagues in Australia (e.g. Jesse's mentors and advisers at RMIT) and thus reinforce our joint research projects

Such collaborations will boost our efforts and progress in the discovery of new therapeutic solutions to cure children suffering from cancer throughout the world.

Prof. Aksam Merched —

JM: Academically I have learned the ins and outs of what it takes to undertake scientific research; the planning involved, the research required and the techniques used to make discoveries.

Personally, having jumped straight into the deep end of life in Bordeaux, I feel like I now have a pretty good grasp on the European and French way of life. I master the baguettes, the endless varieties of wine and also appreciate the general positive outlook of the locals. I must confess my language skills have yet to flourish, but perhaps when they do I will be able to consider myself an honorary Frenchman!

All in all, I have loved my time here and recommend it to anybody considering the program!

> For more information, please consult the Embassy of France in Australia website.