Early stage researcher Christoph Trenzinger, MSc
  • What are your research interests? What are you working on?
I am interested in the development of microfluidic devices that open new ways for biological research and point-of-care diagnostics. Currently, I am working on a microdevice for controlled confinement of T-cells. My aim is to study and quantify the effect of mechanical stimulation on the activation behavior of T-cells in vitro.
  • What would you like the impact of this project to be?
My results may contribute in the development of novel cell culture systems that use mechanical stimulation for T-cell expansion. Further, my project may also have impact on the development of Immune-Organ-on-a-Chip devices that replace animal testing for disease modelling or drug screenings.
  • Where and how did your scientific journey begin?

I would say that it really began when I was working as a student assistant during my master studies. It was the first time I got hands-on experience in the production of lab-on-a-chip devices. I was fascinated by this technology and its applications and from there on I decided to work on miniaturized systems myself.

  • What do you plan to do after you complete your PhD?

I want to keep developing microfluidic systems in an industrial environment.

  • Was there something specific about the ENACTI2NG that drew you to apply?

The chance of doing a PhD in industry was one reason for me to apply. I wanted to take the chance and develop my employability in an industrial environment while also doing research as a PhD. A second reason was of course the Marie Curie fellowship that offers opportunities to develop additional skills in several workshops and offers great supplies for doing research. The third reason was the overall subject addressed by EN-ACTI2NG, that allowed me to gain a better understanding in immunology and to collaborate with researchers working in this field.

  • Someone is curious about working on the same field / working with your group, what would you tell him/her?

Working in the field of microfluidics, means to work very interdisciplinary. A microfluidic device is only as good as its applicability. Next to the science behind microdevice production you do also need to have knowledge in i.e. biology and microscopy to be able to communicate with potential end-users.

  • What do you like most about your time at your institution/group/consortium?

The possibility of networking with people from various fields of research, may it be in the consortium or the company.

  • What can you expect from a PhD in industry?

I think it really depends on how well your’ and the company’s expectations match. So, I strongly recommend checking that before starting a position like that. For sure your PhD in industry will be different in terms of supervision and publications may not be the main goal during your time in the project. However, you will have the chance to develop skills that help you to find your place in an industrial environment and may kick-start your career in industry. Eventually you will also have a PhD degree and you can decide where to go next.

PI: Marco Linder, PhD 

  • What is the focus of your group?

Our company is focusing on the development and mass manufacturing of microfluidic consumables.

  • What would you like the impact of your career to be?

I want to continue to help develop products that are used in diagnostics and therapy. This motivation led me to join the company and also ensures that I stay in this field.

  • Any serendipitous findings during your career?

Yes, quite often. You have a piece of the puzzle, you can't do anything with it and you leave it there for now. After further experiments this puzzle piece comes to mind and the overall picture suddenly makes sense. In retrospective, this piece of the puzzle looks like a serendipitous finding.

  • One thing in science that changed the most since your PhD (early science career) - something that would have made you life so much easier if you had it back then?

My PhD was not long ago. But it's incredible to me how the internet has changed the past 20 years, how easy it is to communicate and to acquire knowledge. Unfortunately, many publications, although financed from public funds, are hidden behind a paywall. But I'm curious to see in what direction this will develop.

  • Developments you are most excited about.

Clearly learning algorithms. They include the ability to evaluate complex correlations (which subconsciously distinguishes experts from beginners), but will also make us have to question things anew.

  • What will be the next big thing in the field?

Microfluidics will benefit massively from learning algorithms and thus allow big leaps in molecular diagnostics; early detection and personalized treatments will be improved. Personally, I would like to contribute more on the device side, more on the basic idea than in the pure production.

  • Day to day life of a PI (and how much the consortium demands out of you).

The EN-ACTI2NG project managers (Hisse, Estefanía, and now Sofia) do a fantastic job and the ESR works very independently.

  • A PI curious about submitting an ITN asks you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?

Beneficiaries are essential for the success of a proposal for an ITN, but a company should only participate if they are interested in the student's work. It is also helpful if the university that is additionally required for a PhD is not far away. This helps the discourse between academy and company and makes it easier for the ESR to attend its courses.

  • What do you like most about the consortium?

It is a good mix of expertise that is all about CAR and T-cells. Personally, I am impressed by how straightforward and friendly the communication between the experts is.

  • What do you envision the future of science to be? (or: what would you like it to be – comment on organization/economic level, equality or mental health focus)

I would hope that we do not lose sight of the value of basic research and its free publication. At the same time, research always has a responsibility that cannot be transferred to companies, regardless of who pays for the research.