Cell-Based Models of Human Mucosal Immunity with Multiple Commercial Applications
Cell-Based Models of Human Mucosal Immunity with Multiple Commercial Applications
My academic career began in Ireland with a BSc in Biomedical Sciences (NUI Maynooth, 2011) during which I developed a particular interest in the role of the immune system in infection and malignancy. My final-year undergraduate project investigated the function of JNK in innate immunity and malignancy. I then completed two MScs in Neuropharmacology (NUI Galway, 2012) and Translational Oncology (Trinity College Dublin, 2013), gaining further invaluable knowledge and research skills for my scientific career. In 2013, I investigated the benefits of 3D in vitro lung cancer models in therapeutic nanotechnology, presented a review poster at the 6th Euro Nano Forum and attended the annual conference of Irish Association for Cancer Research. At present, I am participating in a Marie-Curie industrial PhD project ‘HUMUNITY’ involving the CNR, Italy, AvantiCell Science Ltd, UK and the University of Salzburg, Austria. My research aims at understanding the role of mucosal innate immunity in the upper respiratory tract and how different exogenous factors cause pulmonary complications. This involves developing novel in vitro models with primary human cells that can mimic the physiological role of the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract during disease and health.
Beyond research, I enjoy traveling, learning new languages and exploring new cultures in terms of food, music and dance.
I have graduated from the University of Pécs Medical School as a medical biotechnologist (June 2013), where I specialised in Cell and Tissue-Engineering. During my master's programme I characterised various cell lines, including human samples, and constructed three dimensional lung tissue models. Other laboratory experience includes mammalian cell cultures and handling small animals, as well as laboratory techniques commonly used in immunology research, such as ELISA, immunohistochemistry, nucleic acid and protein gel electrophoresis, and PCR. The focus of my studies has been immunology and tissue engineering. My thesis project is entitled “Development of an in vitro 3D lung tissue model supplemented with T-cells to provide a model system for molecular processes in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)”. The aim of my thesis experiment was to develop and establish stable 3D lung tissue spheroids containing human lung epithelial cells, human fibroblasts and activated T cells in order to establish a disease model of COPD. Recently, the aim of my HUMUNITY project is to specifically evaluate the innate/inflammatory responses of the human bronchiolar tissue in pathological situations of cystic fibrosis, by implementing in vitro cell-based models.
My name is Elfi Töpfer and I am of German nationality. I started my scientific carrier in the city of Jena, Germany where I studied Nutrition Sciences. During my studies I developed a particular interest for Biomedical research. Therefore, during a semester’s Erasmus, I participated in the master program ‘Lifestyle and Chronic Disorders’ at the Free University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Furthermore, I had the chance to investigate the role of antipsychotic drugs on peripheral glucose regulation during an internship (RISE worldwide program) at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Thereafter, I started my Diploma/Master thesis at the German Center for Diabetes Research in Dresden, Germany. In the lab of Prof. Michele Solimena I investigated the cellular mechanism of autophagy in Coxsackievirus infected pancreatic beta-cells.
During my PhD I will focus on the development of an advanced biological in vitro model for the human colon mucosa. In this model system cultured human primary cells shall mimic the architecture and the interactions of the original tissue. In particular, the project aims to map at a cellular and molecular level the effects of agents presented at the mucosal surface on colonic innate/inflammatory defensive functions in both healthy and pathological conditions.
My life sciences adventure started at the Silesian University of Technology, Poland where I completed a BSc in Industrial Biotechnology. Then I carried out a MSc in Molecular Biotechnology and Technical Biochemistry at Lodz University of Technology, Poland. My master’s research project ‘The effects of ribosome-inactivating proteins and lectins from elderberry (Sambucus nigra) on mammalian cell lines’ was carried out in Ghent University, Belgium. During my studies I have participated in two technical internships. In the first project I investigated a new ligand used for affinity chromatography at the Universidade da Baira Interior, Portugal. The second internship was in the area of protein engineering and tissue culture work in CSIRO, Australia.
Throughout my studies I have gained invaluable experience and research interest which led me to the HUMUNITY fellowship. During my project I will mimic the architecture and functionality of human terminal ileum mucosa and apply this model in the battle against inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and in particular Crohn’s disease.
Besides my academic experience, I have been a member of IAESTE student organization and carried out a voluntary project at an orphan house in Nepal where I have acquired various invaluable skills such as group work; time management; and problem-solving in order to reach a common goal.
I enjoy salsa dance, volleyball and discover new cultures.
Diana Boraschi is an immunologist that built her experience both in academic institutions (Italian National Council for Nuclear Energy, Rome, Italy; National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD; Mario Negri Institute in Milan, Italy; University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI; CNR in Pisa) and industrial settings (the vaccine company Sclavo in Siena, Italy; the pharmaceutical company Dompé in L’Aquila, Italy). She is presently Research Director at the Institute of Protein Biochemistry of the Italian National Research Council in Naples. She has served as Director of Fellowships at the Human Frontier Science Program Organization in Strasbourg, France. As external expert evaluator, she has served in the research programmes of the EU Commission (FP5, FP6, FP7), EDCTP, the Singapore National Medical Council, the US National Science Foundation, and governmental initiatives in Egypt, Romania, Sweden, Poland, South Africa, and Italy. She also serves as peer reviewer for numerous scientific journals and is on the editorial board of seven of them. She is author of 144 peer-reviewed research articles in immunology, editor of 14 books, and inventor in eight patents, in addition to numerous monographic and divulging publications. Since many years she is involved in international higher education training activities, with particular emphasis on capacity building actions in Africa in the field of poverty-related diseases and health care systems and delivery.
Diana Boraschi studies the mechanisms of innate defence responses, focussing in particular on the role of macrophages and inflammatory cytokines in the effector phase of defence reactions against infections and tumours. Her main interests are the receptors of the IL-1R/TLR family and their cytokine ligands (IL-1 and IL-18). A fragment of IL-1 endowed with immunostimulatory activity is now defined as the “Boraschi loop”. She is currently studying the role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of diseases (from autoimmune syndromes to degenerative diseases such as ALS), with emphasis on abnormalities in the activation of macrophages. Within the study of the initiating mechanisms causing chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, she has addressed the possible impact of engineered nanoparticles, and of their interaction with microbial derived factors, in initiating or modulating pathology-related inflammation. She has initiated the “Immunosafety Focus Group” within the NanoSafety Cluster (an initiative sponsored by the EU Commission), aiming at defining and standardising the immunosafety assessment as central part of nanosafety regulations.
Dr. Colin Wilde is Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of AvantiCell Science Ltd. AvantiCell is a biotechnology company specialising in cell biology and cell culture technology. The company’s business is founded on the principle that advances in cell culture technology enable the development of physiologically-relevant alternatives to animal testing in research and drug discovery. Colin manages the Company’s contract services, product development, and its programme of research and development in the field of cell-based analysis. He is the author of ten patents or patent applications and >100 research papers in the fields of mammary biology and cell-based analysis. His international network of research collaborations has enabled AvantiCell to build commercial partnerships, often supported by competitive grant funding, to produce and sell leading-edge cell-based technologies internationally, with a particular focus on South East Asia.
Paola Migliorini obtained her Master Degree in medicine with honours, as internal student of the Scuola Superiore di Studi Universitari e di Perfezionamento S. Anna, and her subsequent specialization in Rheumatology at the University of Pisa. She then moved to the University of Firenze and obtained a second specialization in Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
After a period of six years spent as a researcher at the Haematology-Oncology Division of the New England Medical Center Hospital (Boston, USA) and at the Biochemistry Institute of the University of Lausanne (Switzerland), she came back at the University of Pisa as staff researcher.
With 126 publications, 4 book chapters and 6 patents, Paola Migliorini is currently Associate Professor of Clinical Immunology at the Department of Internal Medicine of the University of Pisa, and the Director of the Specialization School in Clinical Immunology and Allergy. Since 2003 she is also Head of the Clinical Immunology and Allergy Unit of the Hospital of Pisa.
Albert Duschl studied biology at the University of Giessen, Germany, where he received his Diploma in February 1984 and received his PhD for work on bacterial membrane proteins in December 1986. He spent his postdoc years at the University of California, Irvine (1987-1989) and at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry at Martinsried, Germany (1990).
He became a University Assistant and group leader at the Biocenter of the University of Würzburg in 1990, where he established his own research group, working on molecular mechanisms in the regulation of the human immune systems. Specific areas of interest evolved in the fields of allergy, of signal transduction in dendritic cells, and of interactions between immune cells and environmental agents, in particular engineered nanoparticles.
In January 2001, Albert Duschl moved to the University of Salzburg where he is Full Professor (Chair) of Biochemistry. His research interests have continued and expanded, but increasingly administrative work had also to be accomplished. He was from 2003-2011 Vice Rector for Research at his University and is presently coordinating the FP7 projects NanoEIS and NanoTOES. He does not regret any of his career choices and enjoys working in Salzburg.
Marco Bargagna obtained his Master Degree in Chemical Engineering in 2005 at the University of Pisa (Italy).
After a brief working experience in Dublin (Ireland), in 2006 he joined ALTA, a service-provider company specialized in developing and managing scientific research projects. Following a specialized training in scientific research projects’ writing and managing, Marco is currently Grants Manager, with expertise in the following areas: