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Jurrian Van der Valk

From January 2022 to July 2022, I was an international graduate research student at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, supervised by Prof. dr. Geoffrey Liu. During this internship, I established a new technique (hMe-Seal) at the G. Liu lab for analysis on patterns of hydroxymethylation in cell-free DNA for early detection of lung cancer. Throughout this period, I had biweekly meetings with Prof. dr. Liu and I had daily contact with several permanent staff members of the COMBIEL program (Dangxiao, Deval, and Khaleeq). My collaboration with Dangxiao was very pleasant and was an important factor in the successful establishment of hMe-Seal in the G. Liu lab. In addition, Dangxiao, Deval and Khaleeq grew to be friends and made coming to the lab every day a pleasure. During my meetings with Prof. dr. Liu, I presented my progress and Prof. dr. Liu always had useful suggestions or feedback, both on my research project or my writing. Moreover, these meetings were fun and always something to look forward to. Prof. dr. Liu’s vast amount of knowledge and broad expertise amazed me many times and was truly inspiring.


As a supervisor, Prof. dr. Liu was not only friendly and easy to work with, but also thinking along with my project and personal development. Despite having a busy schedule, Prof. dr. Liu was fully focused on me and my project during our meetings. Finally, Prof. dr. Liu paid attention to my personal development and showed interest in my personal life.


This internship has given me the ability to develop myself in many different ways. As a researcher, working in a lab can be challenging at times, resulting in great development of my critical thinking and perseverance. When optimizing the method in the lab, my creative thinking was often challenged to solve problems. Finally, my independence has improved tremendously due to project planning, project management and working independently in the lab.

On a personal level, I have grown as well. As an international student, getting familiar with a foreign environment and meeting new people was a lot of fun. Moreover, Toronto is a city with a diverse population, and I gained a global mindset from having conversations with many Torontonians.


All in all, I had an amazing experience during my research project, and I would highly recommend Prof. dr. Liu as a supervisor to every student looking for an internship in Toronto. 

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