Following his Ph.D in organic chemistry., Xun Li was awarded an EIPOD fellowship to work on a project involving research labs at three of the five EMBL sites. He spent his first year in the lab of Janet Thornton at the EMBL-EBI in Hinxton, UK working on bioinformatic aspects of the project. For the experimental components he relocated to the lab of Maja Koehn at the EMBL-Heidelberg in Germany. The lab of Matthias Wilmanns from EMBL-Hamburg was also an integral part of the project providing valuable input and feedback. In addition to the interdisciplinary training he received, Xun felt he benefited tremendously by developing the communication skills necessary to co-ordinate a research project across multiple groups with different focuses and expertise. His project led to the development of an online searchable database DEPOD (human DEPhOsphorylation Database) which allows researchers to identify the known substrates for a phosphatase and to predict new ones based upon similarity relationships. The work was published in the online journal “Science Signaling”. Xun is now working as a Senior Scientist at Nova Nordisk Research Center China (NNRCC) in Beijing, China. He remembers his time at EMBL fondly. “I enjoyed a lot the open and vibrant academic atmosphere and strong support from supervisors and colleagues.”
The scientific part of Xun's original EIPOD project is available here.
Wanda Kukulski did her PhD in biophysics at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel and joined EMBL in 2008 as an EIPOD fellow to work on an interdisciplinary project involving the groups of John Briggs from EMBL’s Structural and Computational Biology Unit and Marko Kaksonen from the laboratories’ Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit. She recalls she was “keen on learning new methods and exploring new topics, but at the same time wanted to keep using electron microscopy as a tool”. Her EIPOD project allowed her to do just that. Both groups were heavily involved in her project and she participated in the lab meetings and social events of both groups. Although this could be time intensive, Wanda found it extremely beneficial. “One reason to participate in all seminars and lab meetings was that when I presented the very same results in front of structural biologists and then the next time in front of cell biologists, I got very different, valuable feedback. This made me think more about my project, and made me be more precise about what the important questions are and more aware of weaknesses." The results of her EIPOD project were published in Cell.