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Health Center Today, August 25, 2010

School of Medicine Graduate Student Attends Prestigious Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Germany

By Carolyn Pennington

Photo of graduate students

Jodi Eipper-Mains, M.D./Ph.D. student, was one of 75 graduate students from the U.S. chosen to attend the Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Germany.

Jodi Eipper-Mains, an M.D./Ph.D. student, was one of 75 graduate student researchers from the United States chosen to attend the 60th Annual Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates and Students in Lindau, Germany, earlier this summer.

Since 1951, Nobel Laureates have annually convened in Lindau to have open and informal meetings with students and young researchers from around the world. Eipper-Mains is the first UConn School of Medicine student ever to be chosen to attend the meeting.

"There were 10,000 applicants this year so I feel very fortunate to have been chosen," says Eipper-Mains, who was nominated by Bill Mohler, a professor in Genetics and Developmental Biology, and her principal investigator, Brenton Graveley. "It was a great experience and a wonderful opportunity."

Eipper-Mains says her favorite part of the trip was meeting so many interesting students from all over the world from Nigeria to the Netherlands. Germany had the biggest student delegation and the U.S. the second largest. She hopes to stay in touch with many of the students she met.

During the meeting, students attended lectures by the Laureates in the morning, and in the afternoon and evening participated in small-group discussions with them on the topics of chemistry, physics and physiology/medicine.

Two of her favorite speakers were Roger Tsien, a 2008 Nobel award winner in chemistry and Oliver Smithies, a 2007 Nobel winner in physiology/medicine. "Roger Tsien was a dynamic speaker his energy on stage was infectious," says Eipper-Mains. "He loves science and loves what he does every day. He is ridiculously smart but very human and easy to approach. Smithies is like the grandfather of the meeting. He gave great advice and told us to find work that you wake up every day excited to do."

An important message the Nobel winners passed on to the students was the importance of collaboration. "They said to make friendships both within your field and outside your field of expertise," explains Eipper-Mains. "A fresh set of eyes can really steer your research in a new direction."

They also said its important not to get discouraged. "Its easy to get caught up in the minutia of what youre doing and come to a dead-end. Its nice to know that people who have been successful have also gone through that. If you take a step back and look at it in a different way, it can help you take off in a new direction."

Eipper-Mains is studying the effects of cocaine on gene expression in the mouse brain in an effort to characterize the molecular changes that occur as a result of drug use. She expects to have her thesis done in May and will start her final two years of medical school in July. Shes interested in psychiatry and research involving the brain and addiction. Eipper-Mains is still undecided whether shell focus on research or clinical care but she believes the Lindau meeting has laid a foundation of friendships and collegial inspiration for whichever career path she decides to follow.

Photo of Jodi Eipper-Mains

Jodi Eipper-Mains, M.D./Ph.D. student, attends a lecture at the Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Germany.

Photo of Jodi Eipper-Mains talking with Dr. Astrid Graslund

Jodi Eipper-Mains, M.D./Ph.D. student, talking with Dr. Astrid Graslund during a banquet at the Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Germany.

Photo of Roger Tsien

2008 Nobel Laureate Roger Tsien, speaking at the Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Germany. 

Photo of Oliver Smithies

2007 Nobel Laureate Oliver Smithies giving a lecture at the Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Germany.