Angélique Perrillat-Mercerot has been a Phd student at the laboratory of Mathematics and Applications (LMA UMR 7348) at the University of Poitiers since 2016. Thanks to an EC2U grant, she was able to go in May 2019 on a mission to the University of Pavia to consolidate existing partnerships between the two institutions but also to explore new collaboration opportunities.
Can you remind us of the context in which your mission took place?
Since 2015, the LMA laboratory and the University Hospital of Poitiers have been working together on the processing of data from medical imaging within the team DACTIM-MIS (Data Analysis and Computations Through Imaging Modeling-Mathématiques, Imagerie, Santé). I have been working in this team since 2016 and my research has focused on energetic substrates kinetics and on tumor growth.
On their side, since 2015, research teams of the University of Pavia have been conducting studies on tumor growth. They have opted for a model describing tumor mechanical impact and growth
With various past and present collaborations, the joint work of these teams has already proved successful. In the present case, the union of the two visions of the tumor behavior (mechanical impact for the Italian team and energetic exchanges for our team) could lead to the elaboration and study of an innovative, relevant and promising model for the description and prediction of tumor growth.
How did your mission unfold?
First, I gave a presentation to the department of Architecture and Civil Engineering of the Pavia University. It enabled me to meet other researchers. They may be interested in a future collaboration on anatomical structures modelling.
I then attended a two-day workshop on “Recent advances in Phase-Field modeling: from Engineering to Biology” where I was able to interact with different teams, from Pavia and also from other countries. My participation helped me to better understand the possibilities arising from their approaches based on phase field models for solving interfacial problems
Have any collaboration projects come to fruition from this mission?
With the mathematics department of the Pavia university, of course! We have established models describing both mechanical and nutritic tumor behavior. Now we will study them and compare them to real data.
We will soon have a 7 Tesla MRI in Poitiers that will enable us to get more precise data of the metabolites of interest. This way, we will be able to make substantial progress in our shared research. And we don’t intend to stop there!
Regarding the department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, both teams seem very motivated to work together, so all doors are wide open.
Any anecdote to tell us?
To go to Pavia by train, I had to catch a connection in Zurich, where apparently speaking French, Italian and English (that is, two out of the three official languages of Switzerland and the chief international language) is not enough to be guided. Everybody was answering me in German and was expecting me to make an effort…Thankfully, I managed to catch my train!
Anyway, let’s talk pizza! I’ve learned that the tomato sauce is not requisite, and that it can be easily replaced by fresh tomatoes.
What can be, according to you, the benefits of the EC2U project?
A lot of people see Europe as a faraway concept that brings them no benefits. EC2U puts Europe within reach for citizens of medium sized cities. On the Research side, it enables to strengthen the links that are already present between the partners of the Alliance. Moreover, the cultural impact for all the participants is far from negligible.
Raquel Pinto is a Medicine Student at the University of Coimbra. In 2018, she did her Erasmus Traineeship in Medicine in Pavia. Here she tells us about her experience.
Hello! My name is Raquel, I am 25 years old and I did my Erasmus Traineeship in Medicine in Pavia, from September to December 2018.
Pavia is a small and easily walkable city in the north of Italy, very close to Milan, and is famous for having one of the oldest universities in Italy and because of that, the city has a lot of young people. The university itself is beautiful. The different faculties are scattered around town, but they are very close to each other, and all the buildings have courtyards where you can relax between classes. Apart from the university, the city has a lot of history and the streets are all cobblestone, which actually gives Pavia an extra charm.
For me Pavia was the perfect city for my Erasmus experience, because it allowed me not only to meet people from all over the world and learn about different cultures and traditions, but also because I got to learn and practice a lot during the 4 months I was there. I was in my last year of Medicine at the time and I did hospital rotations in Surgery, Pediatrics and Obstetrics. All the staff I encountered was very welcoming and despite not knowing Italian very well in the beginning, over time I was able to speak the language better, which helped immensely and made the whole experience even more valuable. Although I didn’t have classes at the university itself and my academic experience was solely at the hospital, the international students who were studying Medicine in earlier years seemed to enjoy the classes a lot.
I had a wonderful time in Pavia during the four months I was there, and I highly recommend the city for anyone who is looking for a small yet lively place to live their Erasmus. I made a lot of friends, had fun, travelled and gained a lot of experience that will be most certainly useful in my first years as a newly-graduated doctor.