Supporting networking and collaborative research among early career scientists and clinicians.

Travel grant for research experience in Denmark

Mark Smits, VU University Medical Centre Amsterdam



I recently received a grant from a Danish funding agency to perform a study at the lab of Prof Holst in Copenhagen, the 'sphings' study. The main aim of that study is to assess the role of sphingolipids in secretion of the gut-hormone GLP-1.  

For me personally, I aim to learn several techniques to assess gut-hormone secretion, in order to use these techniques in the lab in Amsterdam, and to make new collaborations with Prof Holst and his colleagues.  

Unfortunately, costs for travelling back and forth to Denmark are not included in that grant. For the current travel grant, my specific aims are:

  • To obtain a laboratory animal science certificate (in Denmark); and
  • To learn how to use the 'isolated intestinal perfusion' model, a highly relevant model to study enteroendocrine physiology.



I requested funding for two separate yet linked trips to Copenhagen: (1) to follow the Laboratory Animal Science (LAS) course; and (2) be trained in the intestinal perfusion model by the team of prof. Holst. 

1) Laboratory Animal Science course:

On October 5 and 6 in 2021 I went to Copenhagen to follow the ‘hands-on’ part of the LAS course. Beforehand, I studied all of the theoretical aspects online, and watched the movies on how to perform the training and what to expect. These practical trainings were well designed, with loads of time to learn how to use syringes/needles, how to handle rats and mice, and how to perform minor procedures (including techniques for injections and blood sampling). The course went very well, and the only difficulty I experienced was to euthanize the animal after the training.

On November 10 I passed my exam.

2) Training intestinal perfusion model:

On February 14th of 2022 I moved from Amstelveen (NL) to Copenhagen (DK), and I started working at the lab of prof. Holst on March 1st. Training started already in the first week with getting to know the perfusion system, and watching several different procedures. After arranging all of the logistics (access to the rooms, approval of the training, etc.), I started training with the surgical procedure on Friday the 11th of March. After several surgeries, I did my first training experiment (surgery plus whole perfusion setup) on April 7th. This procedure went without problems, yet with ‘direct supervision’. After 2 more solo training experiments, I was deemed ready for real experiments (see ‘next steps’).

I didn’t really experience many difficulties, the training went more smoothly than expected.


Grant awarded: €1,050.00

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