Pedro Lopes will soon be graduating in life sciences at Strasbourg. Every day, for his internship at a cellular biology laboratory he travels to Freiburg im Breisgau. We met him and chatted about his mobility in the framework of Eucor – The European Campus.

Mr Lopes, why are you doing your internship in Freiburg?
Lopes: I wanted to gain international experience during my studies. Of course, being in France is already an international experience for me, because I originally come from Brazil. But I wanted to gain a bit more international experience and also have the opportunity of working in English. I think this is indispensable in the scientific world. At my faculty, the ‘Faculté des sciences de la vie’ in Strasbourg, Joern Pütz organizes an annual lecture in English with a professor from the University of Freiburg, Winfried Römer. This brought me into contact with him, and now I’m doing my internship in his laboratory. I chose Freiburg because of its proximity to Strasbourg. I live in Strasbourg and commute every day, which is very practical for me. I can benefit from what the city of Freiburg has to offer, do things with my friends here, but I can also go home, stay in my apartment and feel at home.

Did the corona pandemic affect your decision about mobility?
The coronavirus was a major reason for me wanting to do an internship. I didn’t want to do another semester of remote learning, but really have a practical experience. I also wanted to write a Bachelor thesis. That’s not normal in France, but it is in Germany. So I am combining my international experience with my first real scientific work.

What exactly are you working on in the laboratory?
I’m working in a cellular biology laboratory where we study various types of cells. We have one common theme, that is the Gb3 molecule. I’m looking at a very rare genetic disease, Fabry’s disease. In this disease, this molecule that we’re studying concentrates in the body and in the cells. This leads to pathologies and dysfunctions in the body. So I’m studying the accumulation of this molecule in the cells and how it changes the cell composition, cell structure and other aspects.

Bottom line – how do you rate mobility with Eucor?
Eucor mobility – it’s a one hour journey and the culture changes completely, people change, language changes, even the atmosphere in the laboratory is very different between France and Germany. It’s great here, it’s great there: I don’t think one is better than the other. A lot of people want to go far away, but I think sometimes it’s interesting to learn about what’s nearby too. That’s my way of discovering the region. Staying home and doing an internship in another country – it’s only possible here.