First Erasmus+ student embarks on genome editing project at TU Dresden

Elvira Luna is the first master’s student to take part in the BIST MMRES Erasmus+ Programme, which allows students to do their minor project at a research centre or university of excellence in Europe. She is currently completing work at Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) in Germany, in protein engineering of novel genome editors.

Elvira Luna, a student in this year’s cohort of the Master of Multidisciplinary Research in Experimental Sciences (MMRES), is the first participant in the newly launched Erasmus+ programme at BIST. The goal of the initiative, which has received funding from the European Commission until April 2025, is to internationalise the programme, allowing MMRES students and their research groups to establish new collaborations throughout Europe. The knowledge, competences, and skills students develop during these six-to-ten-week stays are highly valuable for their career development.

Elvira arrived in Germany in April to begin work in the Functional Genomics and Genome Surgery group at TU Dresden, led by Dr. Frank Buchholz. The laboratory has recently led the development of the DNA Editing Quantification Sequencing (DEQSeq) platform, an advanced technology that uses Nanopore® to simultaneously and efficiently sequence many different DNA-editing enzymes. Elvira is learning to use this cutting-edge technology, which could make genetic engineering more accurate and has applications in a wide variety of fields including biotechnology and precision medicine.

She will bring this knowledge back to her home laboratory in Barcelona, the Translational Synthetic Biology lab led by Dr. Marc Güell in the Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences at UPF, launching a new collaboration and facilitating knowledge sharing between these two leading laboratories.

Through this internship I will expand my expertise in gene editing tools while also enriching the collective knowledge of the lab by introducing innovative techniques in protein engineering,” says Elvira.

These new experiences will also strengthen Elvira’s CV and prepare her for a PhD degree after graduating from the BIST master’s programme later this year.

This collaboration holds significant importance in advancing my PhD research,” she explains, “It is providing valuable insights and techniques crucial for the next steps in my gene editing endeavours.”

The new collaboration with TU Dresden exemplifies the core objectives of the Erasmus+ programme, which seeks to provide MMRES students with competitive and sought-after opportunities at leading institutions across Europe. Elvira’s work is a testament to the high calibre of students in the MMRES programme and highlights the transformative potential of carrying out a BIST Erasmus+ project, both for personal and professional development.

BIST is proud to support Elvira and we look forward to following the success of future Erasmus+ students.