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How did Master student Mathijs Mabesoone experience his internship at IMM?

‘The atmosphere in the IMM is great’

Mathijs MabesooneChemistry Master’s student Mathijs Mabesoone did an internship at the lab of prof. Roeland Nolte. During 1,5 years he tried to find the binding properties of a porphyrine clip dimer, a molecule that could one day be useful as a molecular copying machine.

‘My initial goal was to gain more experience with techniques like Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, fluorescence and ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy’, Mabesoone explains. ‘Those techniques are essential for synthesizing complex molecules and the IMM has excellent facilities. I wanted to synthesize a so-called porphyrin clip, that consists of several ring-shaped molecules bound together in the form of a clip. By binding two of those clips together you can make a large molecule with different binding spots for ligands. The binding of a ligand in one spot influences the binding properties of the other spot. We wanted to find out more about those binding properties. Ultimately, we would like to use this mutual influence on binding properties to establish communication between the cavities and copy information on a molecular scale, similar to the copying of DNA by DNA polymerase.’
[Cartoon of how a porphyrine clip dimer (yellow) could copy information from one strand (green) to another (red). This only works when the cavities communicate. Mathijs Mabesoone]

During his internship there were difficult times when Mabesoone was stuck, for example during the synthesis of the molecule. ‘Making the double clips was a real challenge. But luckily I had many people around that helped me solve my problems. I found everybody very approachable, the atmosphere in the IMM is great.”

Next to the high level of research Mabesoone praises the multidisciplinarity of the IMM. ‘I met a lot of people with different backgrounds, physicists working at the High Field Magnet Laboratory but also researchers from biology oriented departments and the hospital. Those different viewpoints help solving problems. For example, within the institute chemists can easily ask a physicist to help them with scanning probe microscopy.’

In the end Mabesoone completed his initial goal of getting to know the spectroscopic techniques. Moreover, he contributed to the further understanding of the complex molecule. ‘Although we didn’t completely solve the thermodynamic binding properties of small molecules to our clip dimer, we showed they bind and that the two clips communicate with each other. Altogether, I think I made a useful contribution to this field of research.’

If you are interested in doing an internship in one of IMM’s departments, please contact the head of the department.