Juan Francisco Rodríguez Alcázar is one of the new IITB students and has just started his PhD in the group of Prof. Eicke Latz (Institute of Innate Immunity) in December last year. He studied Biochemistry and Biotechnology in Spain and worked in other innate immunology laboratories before coming to Bonn.
Juan, can you summarize for us in one sentence what your PhD project is about?
It is basic research on innate immunity – we want to further understand how the inflammasome protein NLRP3 is activated in the context of inflammation.
Where did you work before starting your PhD in the ImmunoSensation Cluster?
I studied Biochemistry at the University of Murcia (Spain) for my Bachelor. There, I worked as a student assistant in an innate immunity lab and studied the inhibitory receptor SIRL1 on macrophages in the context of liver cirrhosis. Then, I moved to Madrid and did a Master´s in Biotechnology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. During my Master´s Thesis I was in an innate immunity lab, too, and studied the crosstalk between macrophages and NK cells in bladder cancer immunotherapy.
What made you come to Bonn and what do you like about it?
By the time I was finishing my Master´s, I knew that I wanted to dedicate my PhD to inflammation. I was especially curious about the inflammasome field. I looked for European groups working on that, and it was actually recommended that I go to the groups of Prof. Veit Hornung or Prof. Eicke Latz in Bonn.
Then, I learned about the ImmunoSensation Cluster of excellence on the Internet, and I decided to apply for the IITB scholarship. It took quite a while, but finally, after going through all the interviews and the long application process, the IITB program made it possible for me to come to Bonn and to actually start my PhD in Professor Latz’s lab.
What do you do when you are not in the lab?
I attend German courses at the University, and I also have some tandem partners to learn the language. I am enjoying getting to know the German culture and cuisine. Furthermore, I like hiking and meeting people during the weekends. The “Stammtisch” organized by the IITB program makes it easy to meet a lot of PhD students who also work in Bonn.