03 October 2023

Jonas Burman is a doctoral student at Linköping University and has been given the opportunity to go on an international exchange to New York. There he will work at a prestigious laboratory and follow in the footsteps of his supervisor, Linda Bojmar.

A man stands outside of US Campus in Linköping.
Jonas Burman is a PhD student in Linda Bojmar's research group at LiU and will be going on an international exchange at Dr David Lyden's lab at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. John Karlsson

Jonas didn't always know that he wanted to pursue cancer research, but when he was studying for a master's degree in medical biology, something happened. He got the chance to do a Master's project in tumour biology with Professor Xiao-Feng Sun at LiU and was hooked. When his master's was about to end, he wanted to continue in cancer biology in some way. Then he got a tip that Linda Bojmar, a researcher who had worked in the US, was coming back to Linköping and that she was looking for a PhD student.

"I got in touch with Linda and she thought I was suitable for her group. She had done a lot of work on pancreatic cancer, liver metastases and extracellular vesicles, which are small particles that cells secrete and that can affect the tumour's environment. It sounded really interesting, so I applied for the PhD position and got it," says Jonas.

An intense time

Jonas has now been a doctoral student for a couple of months and enjoys his position. He finds being a research student intense but rewarding.

"There are many late nights and many hours, but it is still something that I think is worth it. It is so incredibly interesting and I meet many extremely knowledgeable and inspiring people. It feels very right," says Jonas.

He also says that he didn't realise that doing a PhD was optional when he was young. His father did a PhD in materials technology at LiU, but moved back to Karlstad the year before Jonas was born.

"Somehow I ended up in Linköping myself, just like my dad. It's kind of fun," says Jonas.

Learning new methods

Jonas has been given a unique opportunity to go on an international exchange to the laboratory where his main supervisor, Linda Bojmar did her postdoc, namely the lab of Dr. David Lyden, at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. This is one of the leading centres for cancer research in the world. There he will learn new methods to analyse extracellular vesicles and their role in cancer development.

"It's not very common to go on an exchange so early in your doctoral programme, but Linda thought I was a suitable candidate for it. We have worked to achieve this and now it is time," says Jonas.

One of the things Jonas is most looking forward to is learning a new method called Imaging Mass Cytometry (IMC). IMC allows researchers to visualise up to 40+ markers on a single slide while keeping background noise to a minimum, which means very high sensitivity in image processing.

"It is a relatively new method that is actually not possible to perform in Sweden. There is no university yet that has all the parts and modules to do it. And it is also relatively expensive. But it gives us a unique opportunity to study tumour biology in a completely new way," he says.

He also believes he will learn a lot from working in another country and at a different pace.

"I will have a completely different opportunity to master the methods because there are much larger volumes there. There are more patients and more experiments. In this way, it will also be an even more intensive training".

The New York feeling

Jonas is going to New York in the autumn of 2023. He is looking forward to living in a big city and experiencing the famous New York feeling.

"It's a slightly bigger city than Linköping, but it feels good. I will live ten minutes walk from the lab and it is located in the centre of Manhattan. Very cool," says Jonas.

He also has some hobbies that he hopes to pursue in New York.

"In the last six months I've started climbing a bit in my spare time. There are several cool climbing gyms in New York and I'm looking forward to trying them out. Then of course the New York feeling. Just walking around in Central Park. It still feels powerful," says Jonas.

He concludes by praising his principal supervisor Linda Bojmar for all the support she has given him.

"I am a bit overwhelmed by how much support I have received from Linda. She coaches me in everything. She has really made it possible for me to go on this exchange. She is a great researcher and mentor," says Jonas.

The international exchange is financed by different parts. A grant of SEK 50 000 from the Swedish Society for Medical Research (SSMF) for increased costs. Jonas is also partly funded by the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences for this exchange as well as grants from FUN and CircM.

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