Testimonial with PhD student Juan Pablo Rodriguez Ruiz

Juan Pablo Rodriguez Ruiz is a 27-year-old PhD student at the Laboratory of Medical Microbiology. He is part of Work Package 2 within the VALUE-Dx project and studies the microbiome of patients suffering from Respiratory Tract Infections and the effect of antibiotic intake in these patients. Juan Pablo has a Bachelor in Biotechnology at Universidad Pablo de Olavide (Sevilla) and a Master in Microbiology at Universidad de Granada.

What does your PhD revolve around?

Juan Pablo: My PhD in Clinical Microbiology has two arms: researching the effects of antibiotics on patients (which is part of VALUE-Dx) and predicting the development of certain diseases. On the one hand, I’m working on the effect of Ciprofloxacin (a broad-spectrum antibiotic) on gastrointestinal flora in patients who are treated for urinary tract infections in preparation for VALUE-Dx. I’m trying to study what this effect is, whether longer treatments have a larger impact and whether the antibiotic treatment can be stopped earlier if the symptoms disappear. On the other hand, there are the predictions of the markers for which we have cohorts here from several COMBACTE studies. These revolve around mechanically ventilated patients in the ICU who sometimes develop pneumonia associated with this ventilation. We’re trying to see whether there are any markers when starting the ventilation that indicate that these patients are very likely to develop pneumonia.

Which aspect of your PhD do you enjoy the most?

Juan Pablo: What I really like is the ability to do all the sequencing here. When I was in Spain, they always taught us that it would take a long time before sequencing would become part of our daily routine. However when I arrived at the LMM, I could immediately start doing it on a daily basis. I was really impressed by that.

Why did you choose the LMM for your PhD?

Juan Pablo: I was searching for PhDs abroad and started looking at Belgian and Dutch groups because of the English-speaking options. LMM caught my eye because clinical microbiology has a real application here: you actually work with patient samples and then you can really determine what is happening with the patient. It is not something experimental, it has a direct application. 

What are some of your future projects?

Juan Pablo: I am also involved in PediCAP, a study that focusses on African children suffering from community-acquired pneumonia. PediCAP undergoes different treatments because we’re trying to see whether there is an appropriate one for these children. I will also do another microbial sub-study within PediCAP in which I will research the effect of different lengths of treatment and see which one has a more sparing effect on the microbiome.

What has been your proudest achievement so far?

Juan Pablo: I’m very proud of everything I’ve already learned in the lab during these past four years, especially when it comes to bioinformatics. I learned how to work with Linux, the open-source operating system. I can do my own analysis and don’t have to depend too much on other people.     

What are your aspirations for the future?

Juan Pablo: First of all, I want to finish my doctorate. Afterwards, I would like to remain at the LMM and stay in academia. We’re preparing to receive the samples for PediCAP and I want to continue my work in metagenomics. Eventually, I would love to become a Principal Investigator, handling projects, hiring students, etc.

What are some of your hobbies?

Juan Pablo: I love to play football and videogames. I’m also very interested in history, especially the Roman times. My favourite books are historical novels, because you can learn so much from them as well.