Metro News: Reverse brain drain brings bright minds to London

It’s being called “a reverse brain drain,” and it’s bringing major opportunities for all involved.  

Ana Solis, 20, from Mexico City, is one of the bright young minds visiting Western University this summer to join research projects as part of a special internship program and, for her, it’s a big chance.“I’m very excited about it because I think it’s a great opportunity,” she said.

It’s big for Western, too, and maybe for breast-cancer patients across the world, because Solis is making a valuable contribution to the fight against the disease.The aim is to obtain data from human patient samples and seek out the fine variances in DNA that could have led to their cancer. Solis’ role is in analyzing that data with various pieces of software, allowing the team to consider which variances have the highest potential as a cause of the disease.

Supervisor Eliseos Mucaki said: “Ana’s getting a chance to get into a newer field which is really booming because of high (participation). That allows people to sequence more human genomes faster.“She’s going to be helping me with something we’re developing that we’re going to use many times in the future.”

Solis, who has been in London for three weeks, added: “Until now in my university I was working in a lab, but I wasn’t working with real human data.“I was working with bacteria, but now I can work with real human data and do real research. “Also there is an opportunity to get to know another culture.” Western has welcomed 10 students from India, China, Brazil and other countries as part of the Mitacs Globalink internship research project. Its aim is to foster international links.

Each student works under a professor, with Solis guided by Peter Rogan, Canada Research Chair in Genome Bioinformatics and Professor of Biochemistry and Computer Science.

At a glance

  • The Mitacs Globalink internship program has 285 students in 32 Canadian universities this summer.
  • Canada ranks sixth for international student recruitment, behind the U.S., U.K., Australia, Germany and France.
  • Economic activity generated by international students totals about $7.7 billion annually, according to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

By Mike Donachie