First-Person Report: Ana Martin-Villalba
Dr. Ana Martin-Villalba is Neurobiologist at the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg.
What was the decisive factor that brought you to Germany?I always wanted to work abroad. I first studied in Austria, then in England, and then an acquaintance told me about Heidelberg. I liked it there straight away, so I applied for a job there or in the USA. A quick acceptance came from Heidelberg with a definitive offer to arrange for my accommodation too, so I decided to take this opportunity. After a two-month Summer Academy, I was offered a postgraduate scholarship by DAAD - in the meantime, I've been living here for eleven years and I'm still working in research.
What do you think characterises Germany as a research location?On the one hand, it must be the existence of competence centres. Particularly in my field of research, there's hardly any other country in Europe with such an efficiently working network of neuroscientists. This is true for many other disciplines here too. On the other hand, there's a fantastic infrastructure and a long-standing tradition of research that are reflected throughout the whole system. The international diversity of the research community in Germany is something I find immensely exciting too.
What do you particularly like about Germany?I like the way coming generations are encouraged and also the numerous foundations promoting them. Young people are offered a lot of opportunities. What I also love is the closeness to nature so typical in Germany, hiking, or just simply being outdoors. There's one German word I really like, "bequem", clothes, and so many other things about life in Germany, can be "bequem".
What research and development project are you working on at the moment?My specialised field is stem cell research for neurodegenerative diseases from paraplegia and strokes to Parkinson's disease. But I'm also working on Glioblastoma Multiforme, a particularly malignant form of brain tumour. I'm developing therapies to prevent it infiltrating body tissues.
» :: March 2008