Franchesca Velarde was one of the two selected from Latin America by the Bayer Foundation in the area of Medical Sciences.
To study the metabolism of hematopoietic stem cells, which can be transformed into all types of blood cells, to develop a more efficient umbilical cord blood cell transplantation in patients with blood diseases. That is the objective of Franchesca Velarde, a student of the Doctorate program in Biomedicine at the Universidad de los Andes and part of the IMPACT Center, and selected by the Carl Duisberg Fellowships for Medical Sciences program of the Bayer Foundation, to carry out a 4 month internship at the prestigious Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, in Magdeburg (Germany). “This is a high-tech imaging center, which is not available here in Chile. Specifically, I am going to do two things: I am going to see under a super-resolution microscope how my mesenchymal stem cell mitochondria move in hematopoietic stem cells and also study their metabolism using different new technologies to empower hematopoietic stem cells in their task of making your body’s blood,” he explains.
This scholarship, open to students from all over the world, rewards not only academic merit but also the application and impact of the research according to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. “If I can improve metabolic activity just by putting mitochondria into cells, I could increase this potential which will have a direct benefit for patients needing hematopoietic transplantation,” he says.
The Bayer Foundation’s fellowship program seeks to identify outstanding scientific talent and innovative research topics, as well as to foster interdisciplinary interaction and collaboration, and provide unique opportunities for personal and professional development. For Franchesca, this is an excellent professional achievement. “I feel very satisfied to see how all the effort and time of my mentors and peers are reflected in successes and opportunities to improve the science we do. I am extremely excited about all that I will learn and experience, but also happy to be able to continue doing what I love most in life,” she says.
The Bayer Foundation – like the new IMPACT Center of Excellence – has the vision of improving science’s impact for society’s benefit. Intending to instill a collaborative mindset in the next generation of scientific leaders, Bayer Fellowships offer international exchange opportunities for young scientists.