Monday, July 13, 2009

Lost count of the weeks, but appreciating every second...

First off, we had our first Lausanne-people gathering on July 1st. Being still unfamiliar with Lausanne downtown, Erin, Ishita, Jonathan, Yee Hoong and I hopped around Lausanne to find something traditional Swiss to eat. We unanimously opted for the Swiss Fondue and accidentally ended up eating at one of the most locals-coveted place to eat the famous Fondue, Café de L'Evêché, which literally means the Bishop's restaurant. The name comes from its location right next to the Lausanne Cathedral. Their in-house specialty fondue, Fondue de la Bière relevée a l'Armagnac, is a must if any of you go eat there.

My research project is still going great, although my mentor was away for the past two weeks for a conference. I have been figuring out and optimizing which immune response pathway is activated by nano-particles. The big idea is to use nano-particles to activate a controlled and specific immune response in order to target tumor. In order to achieve a specific targeting, we are conjugating different tumor-specific antigen onto the nano-particles. Finding a method to create a controlled immune response is a more challenging problem; if the immune system is uncontrolled, it can attack one's own organs. My next step is to determine what factors comes into play for nano-particles to provoke a managed immune response.

This past Saturday, a few friends of mine, Yee Hoong and I went hiking the French Alps to the "Col de la Terasse" at 2648 m high. What was supposed to be a 5-hour hike turned out to be an unforgettable 10-hour journey. None of us saw the hours tick away for it was such an amazing day and hike.

Vallorcine, a small village in between Montreux and Chamonix, is approximately a 2-hour drive from Geneva. We started hiking at 11 am from 1300 m and reached Col de la Terrasse at 2:00 pm to 2600 m, including a half an hour lunch break.

Our plan was to continue hiking to the Cheval Blanc (White horse) which is, ironically, a completely dark mountain in the summer, but we decided it would be more feasible to start hiking down if we were not to sleep overnight on the mountains. Indeed, we returned to the car by 9 pm.

The view from Col de la Terrasse of the endless trails of glaciers and rows of mountains was absolutely mind-boggling. The crushing rumbles of waterfalls and rapids caused by the glaciers' melting was also quite an acquaintance with nature's grandeur and beauty. I could go on forever, but I'll let Yee Hoong describe his experience and upload some pictures of the hike.

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