Lucas Fagundes, a PhD student in Québec, on an Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility exchange programme

Lucas Fagundes, a Brazilian PhD student who is doing his doctorate at the Centre INRS Institut Armand-Frappier, received an Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility grant to work at Université de Rennes 1 for four months.

Lucas Fagundes, a PhD student in Québec, Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility exchange programme. Illustration: Emma Burr
Lucas, could you tell us about your PhD?

I'm in the fourth year of my PhD at the Centre INRS Institut Armand-Frappier, Québec. My main field is the study of the molecular details of preeclampsia, with the highest incidence between all placental diseases and the title of my thesis is Role of melatonin on the regulation of autophagy of human placental trophoblast: implication on normal pregnancies and pregnancies complicated by hypoxia/reoxygenation. My thesis director is Professor Cathy Vaillancourt. I'm on a four month exchange programme at Université de Rennes 1 in the laboratory UMR INSERM n°1242 Chemistry Oncogenesis Stress and Signaling (COSS), under the direction of Dr. Patrick Legembre.

You are Brazilian, you are doing your PhD in Canada and an Erasmus+ exchange in Rennes! Could you tell us what made you choose this path?

(Laughing). Yes, of course! I'm from the south of Brazil, Porto Alegre. I studied at the UFCSPA Federal University of health Sciences. After my studies, I was working in Brazil as a research analyst in a hospital when my wife's company, who needed someone to work in Canada, asked if she would like to go to work there. She accepted and I decided to do a doctorate in Canada. We'd been in Canada for four years when my wife found out she was pregnant. We could have stayed in Canada but we decided it was the opportunity, with my wife's parental leave, to go elsewhere and I started looking for funding to study outside Canada for part of my PhD. And that's how I came to be in Rennes!

How did you find out about this Erasmus+ international credit mobility grant?

It was through an email I received at the Institut Armand Frappier. I was looking for funding and there are people at the Institut who look for funding possibilities for PhD students and post-doctoral students. It was perfect timing!

Had you heard of Université de Rennes 1?

No. Nor Rennes in fact! (Laughing). I'd just heard of Brittany.

How do you feel in Rennes after two months at the university?

I feel very welcome here! When I arrived, I got a lot of help from the CMI Rennes (Centre de Mobilité Internationale) to manage day-to-day life and before I arrived, I was given advice to help find accommodation which was great.

At the laboratory, I also feel very welcome. There are about 12 to 15 people in the lab including technicians, PhD students, post-doctoral students and researchers. The majority of the people in the lab are French. There are currently two other nationalities in the lab apart from me.

What objective did you set yourself for your four months in Rennes?

My goal is to write two papers in relation to my work in Rennes, a research paper with original results and a review paper, reviewing the results of research carried out around signaling, which we work on here in Rennes, and the placenta, because we don't have research related to that. Well in fact, there has been research carried out but it's scattered about. So the idea is to bring everything together and write a global review.

Do you think you have progressed in terms of your research techniques?

Yes, work techniques are very different here. I've had to learn to adapt and that's a very good experience.

What language do you work in?

I work in French, my thesis is in French and my papers are in English.

You have a Canadian accent when you speak French, Lucas!

(Laughing). Really? I'd learnt French in Brazil but during my first two months in Canada, I couldn't understand very much! It's very different. I took French courses offered by the Insitut Armand-Frappier.

After Rennes, you'll go back to Canada to finish your thesis. How long have you given yourself to finish it?

I would like to have finished it by the end of the year.

What do you plan to do after your thesis?

First we'll stay in Canada for at least two years, and after that we'll decide if we got back to Brazil or go to another country.

Have you had chance to visit the region yet?

Yes, we've been to Saint Malo, Saint Brieuc, Cancale, Quiberon, Vannes... We plan to visit the Châteaux de la Loire and to go to Barcelona before leaving Europe!

Lucas Fagundes's research publications can be found here.

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