Berichte der DGfI-Stipendiaten der Spring School Ettal 2018

Jährlich vergeben IUIS und DGfI 3 Stipendien für die DGfI Spring School an Studenten aus Entwicklungsländern. In diesem Jahr erhielten wir dafür 186 Bewerbungen aus 35 Ländern. Es gab 83 Kandidaten aus 10 verschiedenen lateinamerikanischen Ländern, 62 aus 14 afrikanischen Ländern, 20 aus 5 asiatischen Ländern und 14 aus Osteuropa (6 verschiedene Länder.) Die Stipendiaten 2018 sind Leonardo Almeida (Brasilien), Réka Kugyelka (Ungarn), Eric Ndombi (Kenia).

Leonardo Almeida, Universidade Federal de Alfenas, Brasilien

During last December, I was planning my vacation with my family when I received the great notice that I was selected, in a very competitive selection, for one of the IUIS-DGfI stipends for 14th Spring School on Immunology of the German Society for Immunology. It was an amazing notice and then, I canceled my vacation and prepared to be in Germany for the first time. In 17th March I arrived in Germany on the way to Ettal. Actually, it was a long journey because the city where I live is about 4 hours from international airport in São Paulo – Brazil, where I took the flight to Frankfurt (plus 11 hours of flight). In Frankfurt I took the train to Munich (plus 3:30 hours by train), where I need to take another train to Oberau (plus 1:30 hours). In Oberau, it was possible share a cab to some new colleagues, which were also going to attend the Spring School. Finally, I was in Ettal after a day of travel! The landscape of Ettal worth the fatigue travel. How beautiful Ettal is, surrounded by mountains and with the most beautiful cloister in front the hotel that I have seen.
I did not have time to evaluate the beautiful landscape since I was late to the first lecture of the School! Then, I left my luggage in the hotel and in some minutes, I was in a classic room that belongs to the cloister and in a few hours, I was in front of my colleagues showing the work that I was going to present during the event in a one-minute presentation. It was great to hear about the projects not only in Germany but also in Russia, China, Japan, and Africa and in many places around the world. My feeling was that I was in an international meeting.
The Spring School made possible a great interaction between the participants in both science and culture. For me it was a perfect week to share our knowledge and learn the innovative immunology research that is done in Germany and USA mainly. Ending, I would like to say thanks to every participant that spent time talking with me and shared expertise. In addition, I would like to stimulate IUIS-DGfI to give the same opportunity that I had to be in the Spring School focusing on developing countries researchers contributing to expand the immunology knowledge and future collaborations.
Thankful for each one that receive me well during that pleasure science and culture time during the school!

Leonardo Augusto de Almeida


Réka Kugyelka, University of Pécs, Clinical Centre, Dpt. of Immunology and Biotechnology, Ungarn

With the support of the IUIS-DGfI travel grant, I had the opportunity to attend the 14th Spring School on Immunology in Ettal, Bavaria, on March 18th – 23rd, 2018. The Spring School was an excellent opportunity to broaden my knowledge in immunology, as lectures covered most topics: innate immunity, adaptive immunity,  infection immunology, allergies, autoimmunity and immunology of tumors. In addition, on Wednesday lectures dealt with brand new, cutting edge research areas.
I didn’t have much experience with innate immunity and infections, but the lectures were easy to follow and clarified many parts of these areas that were not entirely clear for me before; I especially liked the talk about the complement system and the one about HIV neutralizing antibodies. Also, I have found the question and answer sessions very effective, as in small groups everyone had the opportunity to receive answers to their questions, in my opinion this was one of the biggest strengths of the Spring School. The lecturers seemed to enjoy discussions as well, and I got some personal career advice as well.
The poster sections were really motivating, everyone presented their posters in a more formal way, which sometimes ended up in very interesting discussions. I especially planned to present a posterwith our new, preliminary results, because I was really curious about „outsider” opinions, so I could get some advice. I was really happy to receive some very good ideas, and I could also help someone with our own experience with stimulation and culturing of transfected cells. I have found the practical afternoon very useful, as I could get to know a cytometry software, FlowJo, that I haven’t used before.
In addition to the scientific benefits, we had a really nice time with other participants, we hope to keep touch after the Spring School as well.
In summary, in my opinion this spring school fulfilled its goal, as both senior researchers and we, students could learn a lot, and share our opinions in a really friendly, helpful manner.

Réka Kugyelka


Eric Ndombi, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kenia

Ettal was an excellent and beautiful venue for the course. The organization was amazing. We were each given one minute to introduce ourselves and our research area. The list of topics were carefully selected and each was uniquely presented, with facilitator’s sharing the latest from literature put in proper context of basic and common knowledge as well some of their very own findings (quite some unpublished material was shared).
Nearly every topic stood out for me among the presentations. I would mention the opening presentation by Irv Weissman on normal and neoplastic stem cells. I was intrigued by his description of “don’t eat me” cell surface molecules, in particular the increased expression of CD47 by cancer cells and the potential of this molecule  in cancer therapy. Another very insightful presentation to me was by Claudia Kemper of the NIH on the critical non-canonical roles of complement in normal cell physiology. It is interesting that there are quite significant intracellular activities of complement regulating T cell biology. This is an area I would love to explore in the context of parasitic diseases. There were other notable presentations that have left a huge impact on my thinking, including Dirk Haller’s presentation on intestinal microbiota, solid organ transplantation by Christine Falk who had such a way of connecting with students and trainees.
I also made very good interactions with fellow students and trainees, especially through the poster sessions. I was delighted to share findings from my own research work on human schistosomiasis, which drew quite some interest, owing to the greater focus of research in the west on non-communicable diseases and basic science research. The most amazing interaction was to meet a post-doctoral trainee from Technical University of Munich who had happened to have reviewed a manuscript I submitted to a journal recently. I hope a research collaboration will come out of this interaction as well as an opportunity to be hosted for a post-doctoral fellowship in his boss’ lab.
I return to Kenya much better informed and am will share my rich experience from the Spring School with colleagues and students in my department at Kenyatta University, Kenya. I believe I am now a better teacher and mentor of my Immunology students as a result of this opportunity. My most sincere appreciation to both DGfI and IUIS for the sponsorship that made it possible for me to take this excellent school. I will be an ambassador of IUIS in Kenya and hope to have other opportunities to participate in IUIS.

Eric Ndombi