In this week’s blog, we would like to introduce you to our new volunteer, Danny de Vries Robbe. Danny joined us from Royal Holloway University London for a two-week placement which focused on the development of e-learning materials for our portal.

Hi there Danny. Please can you tell us about yourself?

Hi.  I am Biomedical Science Student entering my third and final year of study. My primary interest is cell biology and I am currently conducting a research project into finding ways to up regulate muscle building genes using CRISPR to treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Had you heard of rare diseases before your placement?

Yes. My university runs a day dedicated to promoting awareness of rare diseases to both school and university students. I was lucky enough to participate then volunteer to run quizzes to test and teach people about different aspects of rare disease.

What motivated you to take up the micro-placement at Findacure?

 In my opinion, a lack of treatment for so many rare diseases is one of the primary unmet needs of modern medicine. I wanted to learn more about the challenges and potential solutions to this problem. And also to improve my writing skills 

What have you been working on?

I have been working on two in-depth case studies of drug repurposing for the Findacure E-learning portal. Each case study presents a background of the patient group, how early research was funded, how the drug repurposing opportunity was identified as a promising route for therapy, and interactions with the pharmaceutical companies that enhanced the repurposing process.

What have you enjoyed most about your two weeks in Cambridge?

Apart from the great environment at Findacure and the impact of the work, I have enjoyed being able to apply my academic knowledge to real life situations. Throughout my education I have been learning about theory and application in the abstract sense.  I think this is a major flaw in the educational system, as the application of knowledge can help develop understanding. Learning about such exciting and new possibilities in the rare disease field has been both exciting and a privilege.