|REPU 2011 participants and mentors. Back row (left to right): Enrique De La Cruz, Martin García-Castro, and Valerie Horsley. Front Row: Omar Julca, Sofia Espinoza, Enith Sifuentes, Eliana Torres and David Romero. Photo courtesy of Pablo Tsukayama.
The growth of the program
In 2009, REPU moved to Yale University and was able to invite one student to work on small noncoding RNAs with faculty members Christian Tschudi and Elisabetta Ullu. In 2010, the REPU program received more than 70 applications from all over Peru, and the program expanded to invite four students who worked in labs studying autophagy, ribosome biogenesis, protein quality control and calcium signaling. Again, REPU participants were very successful, and two of them were invited by their Yale advisors to stay for a year to continue their research with full financial support from their host labs.
As the number of REPU participants grew, the program started to implement new training approaches. In 2010, students presented papers relevant to their projects to each other at weekly journal clubs. They also presented their research to their peers and lab members at the end of the program. Students began to develop professional skepticism when reading manuscripts and came to understand that presenting science in a clear and engaging way was a challenge for everyone. The students also attended informal meetings in which they discussed common research approaches and techniques, the scientific interests of established Peruvian scientists, and how best to help the development of science in Peru.
“REPU provides a unique opportunity that makes you redefine yourself as a scientist, your interests, what you are capable of doing, and the way you approach and think about science as well as your future goals and the role and type of contribution you would like to make to science in the long run,” says María Jesús Olarte, who participated in the program in 2010.
“REPU is a young and promising program, and I am very proud to be part of it at this stage,” adds 2010 participant Omar Julca. “I am confident that we are helping Peru in different ways, but there is still much to be done, and I am sure we will improve the program every year.”
The 2011 REPU program invited three new students and facilitated the return of another two. The students worked on topics ranging from the biophysics of DEAD-box helicases and autophagy to stem cell activation, germline development and neural crest formation. The students also were encouraged to apply for international training internships and to communicate their experiences with their peers at their home institutions and at conferences in Peru.
“REPU was a great opportunity to know about research, grad school and a grad student’s lifestyle,” says 2011 participant David Romero.