Friday, July 10, 2009

Hiking Adventure

We learned so many things about the Austrian Alps with the help of Dr. Rupp and his expertise. We developed the keen eye for the berries that were delightfully popped into our mouths handfuls at a time. Alpine water was extremely refreshing and experienced straight from running creeks. The higher in elevation we got, the greater our chances were to literally touch the clouds. "I CONQUERED THE ALPS!"


Hans Dieplinger, my (Alessandra's) mentor for the Afamin project, arranged for Kwame and me to observe an experiment taking place with one of his lab technicians, Linder, who was performing an Afamin ELISA (photometric enzyme-linked immunoSorbentAssay for the quantitative determination of human Afamin). This Elisa had already been performed previously in his lab, but for further testing and results it was again repeated. It is designed for the quantitative in vitro determination of the measurement of Afamin in sample material within microtiter plates with SA-MTP and the anti human Afamin antibody. The entire process takes about 5 hours including incubation time. It was quite interesting to see how advanced some of the equipment was in order to ensure precise measurements.

Molsoft was finally downloaded to my computer and with Dr. K's help I was able to begin building the structure for Afamin which belongs to the same gene family of albumin. With the understanding that Afamin is expressed in the liver and found in the plasma, the main objective is to create a molecular structure that will help us learn about the relationships (structure correlating with function) to guide us towards a discovery for therapeutic possibilities in patho-physiological areas. Im slowly learning how to use these programs including chem sketch where i created alpha-tocopherol which is the only form of vitamin E actively maintained in the human body. Kwame and I are still in the process of finding the correct pocket in Afamin for vitamin E.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Two of our LSAMP project collaborations here in Innsbruck aim to model protein-protein interactions implicated in cancer and T-cell signaling. These projects are associated with ONCOTYROL and SYBILLA. ONCOTYROL is an international alliance between academia and industry, whose objective is to accelerate the development of personalized cancer treatments by investigating novel therapies, diagnostics, and preventative approaches. The SYBILLA consortium, funded by the EU, is also a partnership between academia and industry, which aims to understand at the systems level how T-cells discriminate foreign from native peptides by activating quantitatively distinct signaling pathways. Data from mouse models are extended to human T-cells. SYBILLA investigators develop new analytical and mathematical tools to generate data describing T-cell activation by applying proteomics, transcriptomics, imaging and biochemical techniques to obtain holistic maps of the T-cell signaling network.

Monday, July 6, 2009


The Austrian states of Tirol and Vorarlberg are connected by the Silvretta Pass. The peaks of the Silvretta are more than 3000m in elevation, and these are flanked by glaciers. Cyberprof drove through the Silvretta while returning from a shopping trip to Bregenz.

The LSAMP group has also explored by "strassenbahn" and on foot the city of Innsbruck. On Sunday afternoon we visited Bergisel. In 1809 Bergisel was the sight of four famous battles under the command of the Austrian freedom fighter, Andreas Hofer. There is a monument erected here in his honor.

Bergisel is also the site of the famous ski jumping arena for the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympic Games. We took an electric tram up the mountain to the top of the tower, where there can be found spectacular views of Innsbruck and the surrounding regions. We then hiked down the steep steps and paths to the end of the jump ramp, where there are plaques at the base of the Olympic torches inscribed with the names of all those athletes who medaled in 1964 and 1976 in all events.

We ended the day with an evening walk through the Innsbruck University Botanic Garden. The 5 acre garden, across the Inn River from the International Student House, contains more than 5000 species, including some fabulous cacti, and it is open to the public free of charge every day.

"Seien Sie sehr sehr ruhig. Wir suchen nach Eierschwammerl."

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Following in the footsteps of a native austrian, Dr. Rupp took us to an authentic austrian restaurant called The Gausthaus. Here I ordered the typical cheese schnitzel with turkey tastfully accompanied with roasted potatoes (mouthwatering!). I had an interesting and refreshing drink which consisted of apple juice and mineral water as well. The picture only expresses a small fraction of the complete and utter satisfaction schnitzel did for my stomach.

From Cyberprof, as described in the comment about great eating places under "Arrived", is a photo of "gebackene pilze". These are breaded and fried mushrooms (seasonal varieties) with tartar sauce for dipping. These were quite popular with the group. Mmmmm!

Yesterday afternoon/evening, we all attended the end-of-year party at the Biocenter. There was a barbeque featuring various sausages, as well as turkey and fish, accompanied by potato salad and vegetables. Then, there were "olympics" featuring various activities with pipette tips, a "laboratory attire" fashion show, and cabaret/karaoke. Everyone had a great time, meeting students, post docs and faculty, and dancing in the rain.

On our "schwammerl suchen" adventure Melinda and I spotted our own local favorite right out of alpine grounds. It was our first time tasting this raw mushroom and it was utterly delicious. =)

Infamous mozart chocolate balls.... Check.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


The LSAMP group has finally arrived in Innsbruck after being delayed in Frankfurt. Smiling faces touched down at Innsbruck Airport at 10:30PM local time. The international student housing is quite posh, including small kitchen.

Wednesday, July 1, we all met around noon and had a great lunch of authentic Austrian cuisine at a local gasthaus. Then, we went to the Medical University and met with two of the research groups, belonging to Gottrfried Baier and Lukas Huber. We are now configuring computers to wireless networks and setting up in our "branch office", the Lern-zentrum, across the street from the Biocenter and Institute.