Ardalan Mansouri (ESR1)
Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam
Project title: Manipulating extracellular vesicle uptake and secretion to reveal their role in PCa progression
I have completed a double-MSc, with one degree in Molecular and Developmental Stem Cell Biology awarded by my home university, the Ruhr University of Bochum in Germany, and another degree in Regenerative Medicine obtained from the Jinan University in China. My thesis project focused on the arsenic trioxide effect on Nrf2 and miR-125b and its relationship with drug resistance in acute promyelocytic leukemia. I also conducted research on the therapeutic effect of different miRNAs after delivery by mesenchymal stem cells-derived exosomes. I have started my PhD with a MSCA early stage research fellowship at the Erasmus Medical Center (Rotterdam, Netherlands) in 2020. The focus of my PhD is on developing tools to manipulate extracellular vesicle (EV) uptake and secretion in prostate cancer (PCa), and to design advanced PCa-metastasis models for evaluating the functional involvement of EVs in metastasis.
Regarding science, I am extremely interested in topics concerned with age-related diseases, stem cell and EV-based therapies, tissue engineering and regeneration and drug delivery. In my free time, I enjoy cycling, bouldering, sketching, watching documentaries and playing instruments. I consider myself a social person and enjoy learning about people and cultures, and am always interested in developing collaborations. Feel free to reach out to me!
LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ardalan-mansouri/
Mariama M’Bengue (ESR2)
Project title: Characterizing EV sub-population manufacture/secretion by prostate cancer cells, to identify vesicle subpopulation(s) that are functionally relevant for disease propagation and relevant as biomarkers
My name is Mariama and I come from Germany. I studied Medical Biology at the University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany) and spent 2 semesters at the California State University Northridge (USA). I am fascinated by intracellular trafficking and intercellular communication. This led me to do my Bachelor thesis on autophagy in cancer cells, which I conducted at the University Hospital Essen. During my Master’s degree, I studied the role of Claudin-2 in colorectal cancer at the University of Melbourne, followed by a stay at Walter and Eliza Institute, where I investigated a translocon in the Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of malaria. Afterwards, I returned to Germany and moved to Heidelberg, where I studied signaling pathways during mitosis in budding yeast. In March 2020 I joined the lab of Prof. Aled Clayton at Cardiff University. The goal of my project is to elucidate the biogenesis and release of extracellular vesicles in prostate cancer. In my spare time, I enjoy doing yoga, volunteering, and travelling.
LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mariama-mbengue-50aaa4a6/
Misba Khan (ESR3)
University of Turku
Project title: EV glycosylations as therapeutic and diagnostic targets of PCa
My name is Misba Khan and I am a passionate Biochemistry researcher having acquired Master of Science and Master of Philosophy degrees in Biochemistry in addition to over two years’ research experience and 4 years’ teaching experience. Due to my keen interest in the subject coupled with hard work and dedication, I was able to achieve a distinction and second rank overall in the program during my masters degree at the University of Kashmir. During the time in pursuing the Master of Science in Biochemistry at the University of Kashmir, I have also had an opportunity to work as a researcher at a premier scientific research institute in India – CISR, Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine. I have three research papers to my credit which have been published in reputed international scientific journals. I have also co-authored a book titled: ‘Antimicrobial and Antioxidant Activity of a Medicinal Plant: A Biochemical Evaluation of Elsholtzia densa’. I am originally from Kashmir where I taught Biochemistry to undergraduate students at the constituent colleges affiliated to the University of Kashmir. Before moving to Finland, I taught biology and chemistry to students in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
When I’m not in the lab and I have some free time, I like to listen to music, read books and spend time with my family.
LinkedIn profile: http://linkedin.com/in/misbakhan
Ana Špilak (ESR4)
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
Project title: Extracellular vesicle transport and uptake across biological barriers.
My name is Ana and I come from Slovenia, where I studied biology (BSc) and molecular and functional biology (MSc). While I love fieldwork and exploring nature, I found my purpose and passion in the laboratory. Learning about new technologies and methods and figuring out how we can combine them to eventually do something good with our results is what makes me excited. I am passionate about studying human physiology and molecular mechanisms that are happening in healthy individuals versus those in pathological states. There is nothing I would rather work on. In my master thesis research, titled “Viability and vesiculation of mammalian cells after exposure with protein listeriolysin O”, I became familiar with and greatly interested in extracellular vesicles and advanced cell culturing techniques. We evaluated the extracellular vesicles produced by cells in response to potent pore-forming proteins, but did not have the time to really follow their path. That was something that I was truly intrigued by – what happens afterwards, and how can we track it? During my studies I also participated in Erasmus exchanges in Lisbon, Berlin and Vienna, as well as in different national and international summer schools and camps, where I learned a lot about different cultures and teamwork and just grew to love international collaborations like proEVLifeCycle. In my free time I enjoy cooking and making my own cosmetics.
LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ana-spilak-bioismagic/
Guillermo Bordanaba Florit (ESR5)
Project title: EVs as surrogate biomarkers of prostate cancer metabolism
Hola! My name is Guillermo and I am Spanish, in love with team sports, mountain hiking (or any type of outdoor activity) and beer. After three years around Europe I have come back to my beloved Spain to get involved in a top-notch European training program (MSCA proEVLifeCycle ITN). I studied Biotechnology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona where I graduated with a thesis focused on metabolically engineering the production and storage of high amounts of carotenoids in plants. For my Master degree I moved to Wageningen University to pursue the Biosystems Engineering program. In Wageningen, I worked on designing novel carbon materials with Antecy, a company striving to develop carbon neutral production systems. I then relocated to Potsdam to do an internship at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Physiology, where we metabolically engineered a natural bioplastic producer bacterium to sustain formatotrophic growth.
Currently, I am conducting my PhD in the Exosomes group and Metabolomics platform at CIC bioGUNE. Since extracellular vesicles mediate cell-to-cell communication they constitute outstanding assets as potential biomarkers. Combining metabolomics and extracellular vesicles, I will validate metabolic biomarkers for prostate cancer prognosis and describe EV-mediated metabolic dynamics in prostate cancer progression.
LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/guillermobordanaba
Vincenzo Verdi (ESR6)
INSERM- Institut de Psychiatrie et Neurosciences de Paris
Project title: Tracking endogenous prostate cancer-derived EVs in vivo
I graduated in 2015 in Medical Biotechnologies and Molecular Medicine at the University of Palermo in Italy. My research experience started in 2014 in prof. Riccardo Alessandro’s team at the Department of Biopathology and Medical Biotechnologies, where I became passionate about the field of EVs while working on the autocrine role of exosomes in chronic myeloid leukemia. Afterward, I carried out studies on FGFR1 transactivation by muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in hippocampal neurons in prof. Natale Belluardo’s team at the Department of Biomedicine and Clinical Neurosciences in Palermo. In 2016, I got a PhD position in Neurosciences at Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa and joined the “Intrabody Lab” of prof. Antonino Cattaneo to work on in-cell epitope mapping of ScFV intrabodies against Neuroligin-1/2 in S. cerevisiae. I decided to quit this position in 2018 and return EV research as a volunteer in prof. Alessandro’s group, performing studies on Ankylosing Spondylitis patients sera-derived EVs in monocytes differentiation.
I have been an ESR within the proEVLifeCycle Consortium since January 2020, working as a member of dr. Guillaume van Niel’s team at Inserm in Paris. I am currently developing molecular tools to redirect and manipulate the fate of prostate cancer-derived EVs in vivo, studying their role in recipient cells and exploiting zebrafish (D. rerio) as a model to investigate tumor exosomal dynamics in real-time.
In my free time I enjoy playing cello, violin, piano, mandolin and guitar and I used to play in folk and pop bands. I love creating paper-mache sculptures, cooking and practicing sports.
LinkedIn profile: https://it.linkedin.com/in/vincenzo-verdi-a18b66106
Elena Castellano Sanz (ESR7)
Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO)
Project title: Influence of prostate cancer-secreted exosomes in the pre-metastatic niche formation
I obtained my BSc in Biotechnology from Universidad Francisco de Vitoria in Madrid in 2017. In 2019 I graduated from the MRes in Cancer Biology program at Imperial College London with Distinction. I am currently enrolled in the Molecular Bioscience Ph.D. program at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.
In 2017 I joined the laboratory of Dr. Hernando-Monge (NYU Langone Health) for a one-year internship. My research contribution resulted in a recent publication (Floristán et al., 2020). During my MRes, I developed my first dissemination at the laboratory of Dr. Syed, whose research focuses on glioblastoma multiforme. I then joined Dr. Carling’s laboratory (MRC London) where I investigated the effect of chronic activated AMPK in the progression of hepatocellular carcinoma. I am currently part of the Microenvironment and Metastasis group at CNIO led by Dr. Peinado, whose research aims to understand how the microenvironment impacts metastatic behavior. In this project we aim to define the role of PCa-derived exosomes in lymph node and bone pre-metastatic niche formation. We will analyze the biodistribution of tumor-derived exosomes and their impact on local and distal metastasis.
My biggest passion is to travel around the world. I love to take my bag, a few friends and hit for a new destination on the map. These wonderful experiences have broadened my horizon culturally, through strengthening my open-mindedness and developing a soft spot for intercultural exchange.
LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elena-castellano-sanz-7a05b216b/
Ingrid Tomljanovic (ESR8)
Project title: Coding and non-coding RNA in prostate cancer-derived EVs
I graduated with High Honors in Molecular Biology at the University of Zagreb after completing my MSc thesis in computational cancer genomics at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine – IRB Barcelona. Throughout my studies, I focused on acquiring a range of bioinformatics competencies in addition to a formal background in molecular biology. I attained my initial research experience in the field of intrinsically disordered proteins using both computational and experimental approaches, whereas my MSc thesis involved an extensive association analysis of somatic mutations and mutational signatures across 33 cancer types. I subsequently joined GenomeScan and developed my data analysis skills as an early stage researcher in prostate cancer transcriptomics within the Translational Research Network for Prostate Cancer. As a proEVLifeCycle member, I aim to leverage extracellular vesicle next-generation sequencing data to obtain molecular profiles that could enable an integrated understanding of EV roles in prostate cancer and allow us to further explore their utility as a source of minimally invasive biomarkers. My general research interests include multiomics of complex diseases, biomarker discovery and noncoding RNAs. Apart from research, I greatly enjoy cooking and spending time outdoors in nature.
LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ingrid-tomljanovic-2128059a/
Pedro M. Filipe (ESR9)
Anaxomics Biotech, SL.
Project title: Network-based computational methods for EV datasets analysis
My academic experience began with a BSc degree in Biochemistry at the Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the University of Coimbra (UC). There, I developed my interest in the field of molecular biology and, in particular, mechanisms of disease. This experience also reinforced my interest in health sciences, leading me to enrol in the MSc in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology (Faculty of Pharmacy, UC), where I was able to connect with tools that can create new theragnostic strategies via molecular biology knowledge. Currently, I am attending the PhD programme in Biomedicine at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra while being a ProEVLifeCycle ESR in Anaxomics Biotech SL. My project focuses on developing network-based computational methods for EV datasets analysis.
My scientific career started at the Centre for Neurosciences and Cell Biology, Portugal, where I developed a deep passion for the fields of computer science and bioinformatics. There I wrote my MSc thesis, which focused on designing a machine learning approach for the repurposing of combinatory therapeutic strategies for cancer. This work allowed me to understand the complexity of genomics, proteomics and metabolomics in cancer along with gaining knowledge of data acquisition and mining, machine learning and data science. I have a profound interest in how 0s and 1s can describe living beings and the way this information could help overcome obstacles in biotechnology and health.
In my spare time, I like to spend time with my friends playing board or video games. I am also a big fan of hanging out on some trips to the museum or just visiting new places.
LinkedIn profile https://www.linkedin.com/in/pedromfilipe/
Pol Escudé (ESR10)
Project title: Lipid-Based Nanoparticles and Extracellular Vesicles as drug delivery systems
I am Pol Escudé, a PhD candidate at Raymond Schiffelers’ Nanomedicine laboratory at UMC Utrecht since February 2020. I graduated in Biotechnology at University of Barcelona and obtained an Advanced Genetics
MSc at Autonomous University of Barcelona. During 2017-2018 I had the unique opportunity to take genetics courses and acquire laboratory experience at University of California Davis (USA). Afterward, I worked on my final degree project in a telomeres and telomerases laboratory at Lund University (Sweden), under supervision of prof. Marita Cohn. Furthermore, during the first semester of 2019 I carried out my master’s thesis in a DNA repair syndromes laboratory at IIB Sant Pau (Barcelona, Spain) under the supervision of prof. Jordi Surrallés.
Nowadays at UMC Utrecht, my PhD research topic includes both lipid nanoparticle- and extracellular vesicle-mediated therapy against prostate cancer (PCa), as part of the proEVLifeCycle network. The ultimate aim is to reach the optimal lipid nanoparticle, extracellular vesicle or hybrid vesicle for functional drug delivery, in order to improve current PCa therapies. By means of loading these vesicles with therapeutic molecules (mRNA, siRNA, chemotherapeutic prodrugs, pro-corticosteroids and other small molecules) a combinational approach will be carried out to infer promising treatment solutions for different PCa models.
From a more personal aspect, I was born in 1996 in Barcelona and I was raised by a liberal family in this same city. Among my passions I have always had a special interest in science and thus it became my vocation. I like to think of myself as a very curious person with general interests; especially interested in sciences, geography and history. I am a very outgoing and active person who likes to practice all sorts of sports and will hardly ever say no to a new challenge.