By Catarina Gonsalves (INL-Portugal to Ocupharm-Spain)
I was very keen to go on secondment, so I was delighted when Lorenzo told me about the Neonet project and explained me the secondment possibilities. I immediately got interested on Ocupharm, a contract research organization, born as a spin–off company, of the University Complutense of Madrid. It is focused on pharmaceutical research related with drug and medical devices for ocular applications.
I was unsure of exactly what to expect, but I knew that an experience outwith would broaden my experience of working with other researchers, push me to improve my knowledge and give me the chance to learn new skills, essentially working with models to assess safety and efficacy of drug delivery systems for ocular applications.
I booked a room in Madrid through air bnb, I purchased my airline ticket (Porto-Madrid) from Ryanair and I left my family to go through this adventure…
It was my first time in Madrid. I was already familiar with the idioma. I do not speak Spanish but I can reasonably understand. Indeed, I fell that during the secondment period I improved my Spanish.
I found very easy and cheap to reach the center city (Avenida da América) from the airport, even arriving at 11.15 pm. I took a bus that takes 20 minutes to arrive at the city center and there I took the metro to reach Prosperidad, where a stayed during my secondment, a quiet neighborhood very well connected to all parts of the city.
I really enjoy the city. It has the feel of a major capital city, with broad open streets, some modern buildings but others that date back to medieval times. The weather was warm. I spend some evenings having leisurely strolls around the city.
The research group at Ocupharm was very kind with me and I have learnt a lot, especially regarding the use of different techniques to assess the safety and efficacy of ocular formulations. Indeed, I had the possibility to test new formulations developed at INL. In this way, 3D-NEONET project allow the establishment of interesting collaborations between companies and academy with complementary expertise.
This secondment was for sure, an enriching experience for me.