Robin SIMSA (Compmed 2015 / IBD4Health 2016)
As so often in life, my acceptance to the BioHealth Computing master was a complete surprise to me. I already was accepted to go to a University in Berlin for an Erasmus semester and had my bags ready to leave, when I received a call from Philippe Sabatier, the program coordinator of this Erasmus mundus master, asking me if I want to join the BioHealth Computing master. I did not hesitate a second. The prospect of doing my master with a small group of international students at 2 different Universities in Spain and France amazed me, both professionally and personally.
Meeting my new colleagues for the first time was eye-opening. I am a biotechnologist by training, but at the first research school at the European Scientific Institute in Archamps (France), I met mathematicians, IT people and other biologists who were eager to form an interdisciplinary team to tackle medical research questions. Having worked with other biologists for the better time of my undergraduate training, hearing about new perspectives on research question opened up a new way of thinking for me. During the intensive, but very productive training week, we developed a strong bond between us, and I still consider these inspirational people to be my close friends.
The first semester of my program started at the University of Barcelona, after which I worked on my master thesis at the University of Grenoble. I could broaden my professional network with people from different cultures, learn a lot about research and of course also had great fun and amazing experiences!
After graduating from the BioHealth Computing master, I did an internship at the BRFAA in Athens, Greece, and currently I am working as an industrial PhD student at the company Verigraft in Sweden, which develops extracellular matrix biomaterials. This is part of the European Training 4 Cell regenerative medicine Marie Curie PhD program (http://www.training4crm.eu/ ). Right now, I am doing an exchange at Tufts University in Boston, where I work on tissue engineering applications.
I do not know what path in my career I had chosen, had I not participated in the Erasmus Mundus master. In many ways, I felt like I broke myself free from a pre-designed life plan and my own limiting believes, gaining self-esteem from living and working in so many different places and seeing that it often worth’s taking a risk to follow your own ideals. Also, I gained a better understanding of the meaning of being a citizen of the European Union, witnessing with my own eyes that the differences which separate us are neglectable in comparison to the similarities that unite us in the EU.
Looking back, applying for and joining the BioHealth Computing master program was one of the best decisions I made in my life, and I hope that many other students will get the chance to make their own experiences in this program.