ESR1 Benjamin Jay Swartzwelter ESR1 Benjamin Jay Swartzwelter


My name is Ben and I am joining the PANDORA project from the US. I went to the University of Colorado, where I studied physiology, with a minor (sort of side study) in ecology and evolutionary biology. Following these studies I was fortunate enough to end up in the laboratory of Charles Dinarello, at the CU medical campus. Consequently, my training is in interleukin-1beta and other pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines. For the past three years I was in the Dinarello lab working on finding the anti inflammatory functionality and mechanism of small synthetic compound that turned out to be an NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitor. Through this research I gained expertise various in vitro and in vivo models of inflammatory response.

My PhD project will focus on the ability of nanoparticles to alter innate immune memory. The goal will be to determine how “trained” macrophages respond to nanoparticles, and whether there is an elevated or suppressed immune response in the presence of nanoparticles. Readouts will include gene expression, cytokine assays, and several methods of microscopy.

ESR2 Sara Michelini ESR2 Sara Michelini


My name Sara Michelini and I am of Italian nationality. I started my scientific carrier in the city of Trieste, Italy, where I studied Biology and Functional Genomics. During that period I developed a particular interest for Nanotechnology and Immunology. Therefore, during my bachelor's studies, at the Universitá degli Studi di Trieste, Italy, I was involved in a project whose aim was to produce a biosensor for the therapeutic monitoring of drugs used in AIDS treatment. Furthermore, in the same team I had subsequently the chance to assess if a new type of drug-loaded polymeric nanoparticles could be used as new treatment approach for B-cell Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (B-CLL). Thereafter, I spent six months in Germany at the DFG-Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD) where I had the chance to deepen my knowledge of immune regulation processes driven by Treg cells.

During my PhD I will focus on the immunological mechanisms triggered by AuNPs after the interaction with human dendritic cells and the consequent effect on T-cell differentiation. To do so we want to develop advanced FCS-free co-culture models using human-derived moDCs and T lymphocytes with the aim to mimic in the best way possible the in-vivo interactions.

ESR3 Manon Auguste ESR3 Manon Auguste


My name is Manon Auguste and I am of French nationality. I started my scientific carrier in Bordeaux (France), where I did my Bachelor in Science of Life and Earth. During my studies I developed a particular interest for marine biology. I had the opportunity to get enrolled in an Erasmus Mundus Master about Marine Environment and Resources, that gave me the opportunity to spend semesters in different Universities of Europe. I did my Master thesis at the University of Algarve, Portugal. In the lab of Prof. Bebianno I investigated the ecotoxicological risk (accumulation of metals and biomarkers responses) on deep sea shrimps (Rimicaris exoculata) after copper exposure related to future deep sea mining in the hydrothermal vents. During my PhD at DISTAV, University of Genoa (Italy), I will focus on the impact of NP on innate immunity of the marine bivalve Mytilus. In vitro short term exposure with NPs will be performed to test functional immune parameters of haemocytes (lysosome membrane stability, phagocytosis activity, ROS production...) and afterward in vivo longer term exposure to determine functional and molecular immune parameters in circulating haemocytes, proteomic changes in the haemolymph serum and inspect potential progressive pathological changes in mussel tissues (hepatopancreas and gills).

ESR4 Natividad Isabel Navarro Pacheco ESR4 Natividad Isabel Navarro Pacheco


My name is Natividad Isabel Navarro Pacheco and I am from Spain. I started my scientific carrier in the city of Valencia, Spain where I studied Agricultural Engineering. During my studies I developed a particular interest for Environment and Ecotoxicology research. Therefore, during a semester’s Erasmus, I participated in the master program ‘Environmental Sanitation’ at the Bioscience Faculty in the University of Ghent in Ghent, Belgium. Furthermore, I had the chance to study of complex microbial communities by developing the DVC-FISH technique in MBRs and sewage sludge during an internship in Water and Environmental Engineering Research Centre (IIAMA) in the Chemistry and Microbiology Water Department in the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in Valencia, Spain.

Thereafter, I started my Diploma/Master thesis at the R&D department in the line of Nanosafety in the Packaging, Transport and Logistics Research Centre (ITENE) in Valencia, Spain with the collaboration of Functional biology and physical anthropology department in the lab of Prof. Oscar Andreu Sánchez. I investigated the comparative analyses of the environmental toxicity of aluminium and iron oxides nanoparticles for use in formulations of conductive inks in the aquatic and terrestrial compartment. During my PhD I will focus on the possible effects of nanoparticles (NP) on the innate defence of the earthworm Eisenia Andrei. In particular, the project aims to evaluate the immunotoxic effects of NP in the reactive immunocompetent cells (coelomocytes and/or choragogenous tissue) of the earthworm Eisenia Andrei by using a battery of immune- and inflammation-related biomarkers.

ESR5 Eleonora Ferrari ESR5 Eleonora Ferrari


My name is Eleonora Ferrari and I come from Verona (the Romeo and Juliet’ s city), in Italy. I started my scientific carrier in the city of Bologna (Italy), where I did my Bachelor in Biological Science. During my studies I developed a particular interest in environment bioremediation. For my Master thesis I worked in the lab of Dr. Martina Cappelletti at the Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna (Italy), studying Molecular and Industrial Biotechnology. In particular, my final graduation project was focused on the characterization of the molecular and genetic aspects concerning genes involved in microbial pollutant degradation.

During my Ph.D. at the Center for Plant Biochemistry at the University of Tuebingen (Germany), as an early-stage researcher under the ITN project PANDORA, I will focus my research on the interaction between NP and the immune system of Arabidopsis thaliana. This project aims to study the global transcriptome changes after chronic exposure of Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings or adult plants to NP.

ESR6 Craig Mayall ESR6 Craig Mayall


My name is Craig Mayall and I am of British nationality. I started my scientific career in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland where I studied Biomedical Science. During my studies I developed a particular interest in nanotoxicology and immunology. Therefore, during my honours project, I researched “The Effects of Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles on a Human Monocytic Cell Lines Immune Response” at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. Thereafter, I continued onto a Biomedical Science masters course at Edinburgh Napier University. For my master’s dissertation I investigated the toxic effects different Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains had on Galleria mellonella larvae.

During my PhD I will focus on the immune responses of the terrestrial isopod, Porcellio scaber, to ingested nanoparticles and the effects this would have on individual animals and to the wider ecosystem. This project aims to elucidate what effects nanoparticles have on P. scabers immune system and fitness and to identify immune-related markers of nanoparticle toxicity.

ESR7 Szabolcs Hernadi ESR7 Szabolcs Hernadi


My name is Szabolcs Hernadi and I am of Hungarian nationality. I started my scientific carrier in the city of Pécs, Hungary where I studied Biology. During my Bsc I developed a particular interest for earthworm (E. fetida, E. andrei) toxicology (seasonal structure changes in chloragogenous tissue). Thereafter, I started my Diploma/Master thesis at the University of Pécs - Faculty of Sciences, Hungary In the lab of Dr. Molnár László. I investigated the haemoglobin production of chloragogenous tissue. Therefore, during a semester’s Erasmus+ programme, I participated in molecular biology research in Cardiff University (United Kingdom) where I was working on E. Fetida haemoglobin genes identification and the expression changes due to bacterial challenge.

During my PhD I will focus on defining an evolutionary conserved NanoParticle associated Adverse Outcome Pathway (NP-AOP) for immune cell cytotoxicity. Nanoparticles (NPs) may obtain elicited entry into immune cell through hijacking the very  endocytic system designed as a central component of the innate immune response (Kunzmann et al., 2011).  We will exploit primary cultures of invertebrate immune-cells to visualise the cellular uptake, cytotoxicity and innate immune-cell response elicited by NP exposure. Through adopting a system toxicological approach we will temporally resolve the pathway by which the NPs elicit their toxicological impact on the population immune-cell isolated from the earthworm Eisenia fetida and woodlouse Porellio scaber.

ESR8 Elmer Swart ESR8 Elmer Swart


Hi, my name is Elmer Swart, I am a Dutch guy currently living in the UK. My career as a biologist began when I started my bachelor in Biology at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The broad scope of this programme, learning about all aspects of life from molecules to ecosystems, inspired me greatly and motivated me to continue studying and working in this field of science. One of the aspects of life that has always intrigued me is how organisms deal with external stress and how they are able to survive harsh environmental conditions. In my Master programme Ecology and Evolution which I completed at the University of Amsterdam, I studied the population genetic patterns in an aster inhabiting the high altitude regions of the Andes where populations are exposed to extreme environmental conditions, but are still able to survive and reproduce. For my graduation thesis I worked in the lab of Dr. Dick Roelofs at the VU University Amsterdam, where I studied the transcriptome wide responses in the water flea Daphnia magna exposed to an intermediate product of a novel bioplastic production process. This project also introduced me to the field of ecotoxicogenomics, using genomic tools to study toxicological effects in the environment, and motivated me to continue my career in ecotoxicology.

During my PhD I will focus on the effects of metal nanoparticles on the earthworm Eisenia fetida and the woodlice Porcellio scaber. I am specifically interested in how nanoparticles can affect the gut microbiome of these soil invertebrates and whether and how a disturbed microbiome can affect important functions such as pathogen resistance and immune functioning of the host.

ESR9 Alessandra Prinelli ESR9 Alessandra Prinelli


I started my scientific career in Milan (Italy), studying Medical Biotechnology. During these studies, I developed an interest for Biomedical research and in particular I was enthused by cell culture and therapy; after my studies I had the chance to join an internship at the Hospital “Niguarda Ca’ Granda” in Milan, in Engineering and Tissue therapy, under the supervision of the Doctor Mario Marazzi.

Thereafter, I completed a Master’s in Medical Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine at the University of Milan, and completed my thesis project in the Pharmacology laboratory of the Hospital “San Paolo” in Milan, under the supervision of the Prof. Elena Lesma during which I have investigated the role of EGF in the pathogenesis of Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM). These studies have revealed EGF receptor as a new therapeutic target for LAM patients.

During my Ph.D. at “AvantiCell Science”, as an early-stage researcher under the ITN project PANDORA, I will focus my research on the Cell-based analysis of the inflammatory response to nanoparticles (NP) in commercial assay formats. I will optimize a panel of cell-based assays, developed specifically for uses in nanosafety testing, measuring innate inflammatory response to NP under analytical conditions. Two prototypes for these assays will initially be developed: Human monocyte-derived DC or macrophages, for measuring human inflammatory response, and Mytilus haemocytes, commonly used as a first-pass test of environment NP immuno-risk.

In particular, the project aims are to develop 3D, cryopreserved assay formats and new methods to detect and manipulate NP from industrial or environmental sources.

ESR10 Francesco Barbero ESR10 Francesco Barbero


My name is Francesco Barbero and I am from Italy. I received my Master’s degree in Chemistry from University of Torino in 2011. My thesis work was mainly focused on bio-inorganic chemistry and in particular in “Biochemical characterization and protein stability studies on mutant forms of a Rieske ferredoxin from a thermophilic archea.” The experimental part was performed at Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica (ITQB) of Oeiras, Lisboa, Portugal.

From 2012 until 2015 I joined the R&D company Nanovector Srl as a Research Scientist. My work was mainly focused on formulation, functionalization, drug encapsulation and characterization of Solid Lipid Nanoparticles. During 2014 and 2015 I was involved as secondees into DNA-TRAP IAPP Marie Curie project. The project was focus on delivery of nucleic acid-based therapeutics for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.  I was seconded for 9 months between the Center for Colloids and Surface Science, Firenze, Italy and the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.

During my PhD I will focus on the design and development of engineered inorganic NPs able to be tuned for specifically interaction with different biological system. In particular the project aims to assess the inorganic NP features that trigger innate immune responses. Variation in NP composition, size, shape and surface state would determine: the ability of engaging the immune system, the features of such interaction (kinetics, affinity) and the consequent effect on immune system activation.

ESR11 Andi Alijagić ESR11 Andi Alijagić


Andi Alijagić completed his M.Sc. in July 2016 at Faculty of Science, University of Sarajevo and obtained Master degree in Biochemistry and Physiology. He received a Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD fellowship within PANDORA project and since October 2016 his research is conducted at Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto di Biomedicina e Immunologia Molecolare “Alberto Monroy” (CNR-IBIM), Palermo, Italy. He is involved in a doctoral program at Paris-Lodron Universität Salzburg (PLUS), Austria. His current research topic covers nanoparticle impacts on adult sea urchin immune response as a phylogenetically very similar model organism to higher vertebrates.


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