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11.04.2019 by Ludwig Boltzmann

What about industry?

Thomas Dillinger, PhD student of our LBI’s Program Line Molecular Pathology, has spent two months with Boehringer Ingelheim in Vienna to gain insights into the research-driven pharmaceutical industry, to pick up on new laboratory techniques and to establish fruitful connections with new colleagues from various fields of expertise. His stay was funded thanks to a scholarship granted by the Career Center of the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft. In the below interview, Tom talks about his stay.

Tom, what was your motivation to apply for an internship?

During my education, so far, I have only seen academic research; that’s why I wanted to seize the opportunity to gain insight into industrial research. I think it’s incredibly important to see as much as possible, both to broaden your knowledge, but also to then be more sure about what you want to do later on. After the internship, I am actually considering working in industrial research when I am done with my PhD, I can very well imagine my future work life in that field.

Why did you choose Boeringer Ingelheim in particular?

There were quite a few reasons, actually: Boehringer Ingelheim RCV is one of the biggest companies in the pharma industry. At their branch in Vienna, they specialize in cancer research – which is ideal for me doing my PhD in this field as well. They have vast resources and employ smart minds. Boehringer could also be a potential future employer.

Can you talk a little bit about what your work was during the internship?

My internship lasted two months, from the beginning of January until the end of February 2019. It was an ideal time frame for me to have my own little project and get to know the mechanics of working at a company like Boehringer. My project was with the research group of Dr. Manfred Kögl in the experimental cancer research area; roughly, it was a CRISPR screen of cells treated with a substance developed by Boehringer. The DNA of those cells was then isolated and sequenced to determine the effect of the substance.

Apart from the monetary resources, the industrial cancer research life wasn’t quite as different from the academic one. I was able to apply many of the techniques that I had learned during my PhD and mostly felt well prepared for the work at my project. I am especially happy that I could also learn some new laboratory techniques, in particular the capillary electrophoresis by ProteinSimple.

Another similarity to academics were the weekly science talks, by which I could also glance into various other research areas at Boehringer.

So this all sounds like the internship was a great success!

Yes, very much so. I think that it will be a stepping stone for my future career, both with the insights I have gotten and the people I have met.

I felt very well supervised by my mentor during my stay at Boehringer and at ease in the group of Dr. Kögl, everyone was incredibly helpful and amicable. I can’t be more thankful for that. I am also much obliged to the LBG Career Center for their support, for having created the opportunity for this internship and for all the other offerings like coachings etc.

a. Boehringer Ingelheim in Vienna
b. Thomas Dillinger (2nd from the left) with the research group of Dr. Manfred Kögl