Junior Group Leader Arica Beisaw values not only the scientific diversity but also the collaboration between different labs in Heidelberg.

Researching tiny fish for better heart health

At Heidelberg University, Junior Group Leader Arica Beisaw investigates tiny fish cells to learn more about ways to improve heart health.

When Arica Beisaw started her post-doctoral work in 2015, she was fascinated by zebrafish. “I was really impressed by the fact that these tiny fish can regenerate almost any kind of tissue,” she says. After working at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim, she found a position as a Junior Group Leader at the Heidelberg University  Institute of Experimental Cardiology.

Here, she focuses on the question whether the cellular mechanisms active in regenerating zebrafish hearts can one day help people who had a heart attack. “Heart disease and heart failure are problems that affect our society today”, says the scientist who is originally from the United States of America. “We hope to develop better therapeutic strategies to help people with heart problems and to reduce the burden on our health care systems.”

Academic opportunities and many collaborations

Arica Beisaw was happy to continue the work with zebrafish at Heidelberg University. “The academic opportunities in Heidelberg are amazing”, she says. “It’s a small city with a high density of scientific groups with a lot of different scientific directions.”

The young researcher values not only the scientific diversity but also the collaboration between different labs in Heidelberg. “Our group is part of a Collaborative Research Center (CRC 1550) of about 20 different labs that are funded by the DFG, the German Research Foundation,” she explains. And that is not all: “The Health + Life Science Alliance Heidelberg Mannheim, which is funded by the State of Baden-Württemberg, also provides us with many opportunities and funding for these cross-collaborations.” The technological infrastructure and facilities are helping her and her group’s research to reach the next level.

Being part of a larger scientific community is definitely one of the advantages Arica Beisaw sees in continuing her academic career in Heidelberg. “The State of Baden-Württemberg places a lot of importance on science and supports junior group leaders and that has been great for me,” she says. When she started as a junior group leader, there were other international junior group leaders, one from the Netherlands, one from Hong Kong and one from India.

Diversity and an international community

Arica Beisaw likes the international community in academia and in the city of Heidelberg. “It’s great to hear five different languages when you walk down the street in the historic part of town,” she says. “It makes me really happy to see how diverse and international Heidelberg is.” The cultural events are another benefit the young woman and her family enjoy. She likes the Christmas market and carnival as well as the festivals and markets in and around the city.

Natural surroundings and high quality of life

The proximity to nature with lots of forest trails and the river are another benefit. “In Heidelberg, you are really close to nature, so you walk 10 minutes and you're in the forest, but it's still a really vibrant international city.”

While Arica Beisaw enjoys the international vibes in the city of Heidelberg, she recommends learning at least some German. “I found that my quality of life has really increased from understanding and being able to communicate in German.” This way, the young scientist from the United States can not only enjoy her academic life but also social and communal activities in Heidelberg more fully.

Further information about the Innovation Campus The Health + Life Science Alliance Heidelberg Mannheim:

A total of four innovation campus models have been established in Baden-Württemberg in strategically relevant areas: Artificial intelligence (AI), mobility, life sciences, sustainability and quantum technology. The Health + Life Science Alliance Heidelberg Mannheim brings together a highly diverse range of disciplines and a cluster of top experts from the life sciences. The alliance partners plan to appoint top scientists, support junior researchers with cross-institutional programs and tap new potential, especially for the translation of research to patient care and the transfer into technological applications.

Tip for researchers: Visit our  job search to find the perfect academic post in the German Southwest!

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Author: Siri Schubert