Host-Microbiome Co-Metabolism

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Virtuome, the Virtual Metabolic Humans’s fully virtual flagship undergraduate summer research programme, has celebrated an extremely successful 2022 edition. Now in its 3rd consecutive edition, Virtuome continued to leverage its systematic team empowerment-driven interdependent core structure, to build upon the 3 pillars of biomedical research, personal development, and community involvement, to enable a diverse group of undergraduate students from all across Ireland, Romania, and the USA, to collaborate on challenging projects focused on Digital Health applications for societal impact. With the guidance of established leaders in their fields, participants crafted a portfolio of tangible outcomes, including presentations, videos, and written documents, alongside ample practice in interpersonal and leadership development, to get ahead in their future career trajectory, fulfilling Virtuome's mission to “craft a valuable learning experience for each other”.

Virtuome 2022 edition: 30th May – 22nd July 2022

1 Programme

2 Task forces

3 Irish universities

3 countries

4 Teams

8 Weeks

11 STEM undergraduates

264 Community contributors

For its summer 2022 edition, Virtuome welcomed 11 competitively selected participants from 3 Irish universities (NUI Galway, UCD, TCD), including from cross-functional STEM backgrounds and years 1-4. Now in its 3rd consecutive year running from 30th May – 22nd July 2022, our participants advanced the creation of a state-of-the-art biochemical network visualisation of a human dopaminergic neuron model, augmented the current VMH metabolite resources with chemical biology knowledge, designed and implemented 4 Digital Health community involvement projects, and experienced steep learning curves including project management, team leadership, and science communications. Our learnings were complemented through weekly symposia with a diverse range of stakeholders, including from academia, industry, charities, and the public sector, with a particular focus on Engaged Research.

Virtuome shall continue to catalyse VMH impact by building a sustainable community of future leaders in Digital Health, lasting beyond programme conclusion. “Although the programme ends, the community persists” remained the closing motto of the 2022 edition.

Virtuome 2022 participant impressions

Programme reflections:

Testimonials

Having signed up for Virtuome, I knew I would get research experience. I was, however, also pleased to find answers to some of my most pressing questions regarding both science and my career path. My passion for science and being in the lab will always remain strong, but Virtuome reinforced my belief that I also belong in science communication, where I can share the very science that I love with others. My sincere thanks to the Virtuome team for contributing to my personal and professional development on so many levels - it is an experience I will always cherish.” – Andreea Atanasescu, Trinity College Dublin

The Virtuome programme was a very valuable experience for me as a biomedical engineering student. I have developed many skills and have a much greater concept of what to expect after my undergraduate degree. The internship was a worthwhile experience and I feel that it has prepared me well for my future career and inspired me to pursue a career in biomedical research. I will take my learnings of the internship with me in applying for and analysing future opportunities.” – Haseeb Ashraf, NUI Galway

“Thanks to Virtuome, I now have a greater understanding of team-based research and how to create and design a research project. I have gained presentation, teamwork, report writing, and communication skills during the course of the programme. Virtuome has also made me more aware of the wide range of career paths available to science students.” – Ellie Swords, University College Dublin

“The Virtuome programme has been an invaluable experience for me. It was a really rewarding experience and I have gotten to develop skills in research and project development.” – Aibhe Boran, Trinity College Dublin

I was quite anxious before beginning the Virtuome programme, however all my fears were swept away when everyone got introduced to each other and teams were made! Over the course of 8 weeks we all became a tight-knit group and shared many laughs while completing our tasks and projects. I would highly recommend anyone who is considering joining Virtuome to not to worry and do it!” – Shahzaib Masood, NUI Galway

The Virtuome programme has given me an invaluable insight into the wider world of research. From report writing to community engagement, I feel I have benefitted greatly from the experience I gained throughout the programme. It was an amazing opportunity to work in a team of students from a diverse range of academic backgrounds.  Furthermore, the opportunity to interact with many well-accomplished professionals from the research field allowed me a great deal of insight into potential future pathways. I am extremely grateful for having the opportunity to partake in the Virtuome programme.” – Ellen Fletcher McHugh, Trinity College Dublin

"Virtuome was a fantastic opportunity where I got to experience conducting my own research into something I was interested in, and got to work with people from diverse STEM backgrounds.” – Cillian Gilroy, NUI Galway

“Virtuome has given me the opportunity to develop key skills that I will require to work in the field of science. As a result of participating in the Virtuome programme, I feel more confident and prepared as I go into my final year of college. The symposia from different speakers each week have given me the direction I needed as I decide on what direction I will pursue after college.” – Hannah Sweeney, Trinity College Dublin

"I am glad to be part the Virtuome programme. Having completed my internship on the programme recently , I have gained enormous skills and experiences including presentation skills and data collection/analysis. The Virtuome programme has increased  my confidence and broaden my knowledge on research. The most fascinating part was the support, feedback, and encouragement from the coordinators.” – Vivian Okoro, University College Dublin

“Virtuome taught me a lot about my skill set and instilled confidence in me. It has aided in the direction of my professional goals and will undoubtedly aid in my future employment choices. I also got technical expertise in the area of research and real-world application. The knowledge I received will prepare me for life after graduation.” – Cathleen Hughes, Trinity College Dublin

 

Virtuome 2022 - VMH organisation team:

Dr. Cyrille Thinnes, Renee Waschkowitz, Prof. Ines Thiele

For potential future editions, please check back here in early Spring 2023.