Minded Fellows

Elena Bellotti, Ph.D.

Dr Elena Bellotti received her BSc and MSc in Biomedical Engineering and her PhD in Chemical and Material Science at the University of Pisa. Before joining the MINDED programme, she carried out her post-doctoral training in the laboratories of Prof. Steven R. Little at the University of Pittsburgh, where she developed and engineered polymeric microparticles and thermoresponsive hydrogels for the treatment of ocular pathologies. Her research field focuses on the development and characterization of biomaterials for controlled drug delivery to be applied in the treatment of different pathologies.

Giulia Borghini, Ph.D.

Dr. Giulia Borghini obtained her BSc in Speech and Language Therapy at the University of Milan (Italy), and gained clinical experience working as a Speech and Language Therapist in a Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit. In 2014, she received a Master Degree in Cognitive Neuroscience from University College London, where she investigated the role of alpha waves on the working memory and inhibitory abilities in the healthy ageing brain. She completed her PhD in Speech Neuroscience at University College London in 2019, investigating how changes in pupil diameter can be exploited to study listening effort while attending to a non-native language. During her PhD, she was a visiting student at the University of Washington to study data analyses and signal-processing techniques. Before joining the MINDED programme, she worked as a Post Doc Researcher at IIT, within the Cognition, Motion and Neuroscience group. Her current research focuses on applying pupillometry to understand whether children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are able to exploit kinematic information encoded in an observed movement to anticipate other’ movement intentions.

Sayanti Brahmachari, Ph.D.

Dr. Sayanti Brahmachari received her BSc. in Chemistry and MSc. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Calcutta. Her Masters project involved microwave assisted one-pot synthesis of heterocyclic compounds carried out under the guidance of Dr. Chanda Mukhopadhyay. Then she conducted her PhD at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Kolkata, India and her research work involved development of carbon nanotube based transporters for cancer specific cells under the supervision of Prof. Prasanta Kumar Das. Prior to her joining the MINDED program she had been working as a Post Doc fellow in Tel Aviv University, under the guidance of Prof. Ehud Gazit and her work included developing of high-throughput screening platform for the identification of potential drugs for diseases associated to protein misfolding. Her current research interest includes devolving of functional Chitosan based nanoparticles for the transport of theranostics to the brain via the olfactory system.

Lucilla Cardinali, Ph.D.

Dr Lucilla Cardinali obtained her BSc in Cognitive Psychology and MSc in Neuropsychology from the University of Bologna. She then moved to Lyon (France) where she worked, under the supervision of Dr A. Farnè, on the plasticity of body representations after tool use and obtained her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from the Université Lyon 1. Before joining the MINDED programme, she worked as post-doctoral fellow in Dr J Culham Lab at the Brain and Mind Institute at Western University (Canada) first, and with Dr M. Gori at IIT (U-VIP: Unit for Visually Impaired people) after. Her research interests focus on body and space representations and their plasticity.

Wei Chien, Ph.D.

Dr. Wei Chien obtained his Bachelor's and Master’s degree in Physics. In 2018, he obtained his Ph.D. in Dr. Yeng-Long Chen’s group from a joint program between Academia Sinica and National Taiwan University (TIGP Nano Science and Technology Program, Taiwan). Before joining the MINDED program, he was a postdoctoral researcher in the Group of Theoretical Soft Matter and Biophysics (Prof. Dr. Gerhard Gompper and Dr. Dmitry Fedosov), in Forschungszentrum Jülich (Germany). His research interests involve multi-scale simulations, cell dynamics in complex fluid, polymer physics, and microfluidics. He will focus on modeling drug-delivery, especially on the design of the nano cargos with controlled 4S properties (size, shape, stiffness, and surface properties).

Pauline Chevalier, Ph.D.

Dr Pauline Chevalier obtained her BSc and MSc in Electronic Engineering at the University Pierre et Marie Curie (France) and her PhD in Informatics at the University Paris-Saclay (France). Her Ph.D. thesis, obtained in December 2016, was done at the Robotics and Computer Vision Lab (ENSTA-ParisTech, France) under the supervision of Adriana Tapus, Jean-Claude Martin and Brice Isableu. The subject was on the impact of visual and proprioceptive sensory preferences of individuals diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) on their social skills during human-robot interactions. Then, she worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Twente (The Netherlands) in the HMI lab, with Vanessa Evers and Dirk Heylen. There, she joined DE-ENIGMA, a H2020 European project which aims to design robot-assisted interventions to teach emotions to children diagnosed with ASD. Throughout her experience in the area of robot-assisted interventions for children diagnosed with ASD, she observed that sensory sensitivities were seldom-considered, whereas they showed to have an impact. Thanks to the MINDED programme, she will explore and investigate sensory sensitivity of children diagnosed with ASD, with the approach of robot-assisted intervention techniques. She aims to bring insights for better and more adapted human-robot interaction but also for diagnosis and therapy for children diagnosed with ASD.

Alexander Cook, Ph.D.

Dr Alexander Cook obtained a BSc in Chemistry from Imperial College in 2013 and carried out a research project on the development of a minimally invasive continuous glucose sensor with Professor Tony Cass. He completed an MSc in Polymer Chemistry at the University of Warwick in 2014, conducting research in the group of Professor Sebastien Perrier on the design and characterisation of self-assembling peptide-polymer conjugates. Before joining the MINDED project, Alexander carried out his doctoral activities ar the University of Warwick, also in the group of Professor Sebastien Perrier, investigating functional polymers for drug delivery applications.

Koray Ertan, Ph.D.

Koray Ertan received his BSc degree in the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering at Bilkent University, Turkey. He completed his PhD in the same department under the supervision of Prof. Ergin Atalar. During his PhD, he worked as a researcher at National Magnetic Resonance Research Center (UMRAM) of Turkey. His thesis study is the development of novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologies such as gradient array systems for increasing diagnostic quality of the MR images, reducing the specific absorption rate and scan time. His current research focuses on a system for modulating the permeability of the blood brain barrier using focused radio frequency heating generated from ultra-high field MRI transmit coils for enhanced treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders with nanomedicines.

Nathan Foster, Ph.D.

Dr Nathan Foster obtained is undergraduate and postgraduate science degrees in Sport Psychology at the Research institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, UK. Before joining the MINDED programme, he completed his doctoral training under the supervision of Dr Spencer Hayes (director of studies) and Prof. Simon Bennett at the Research institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, and Prof Digby Elliott at McMaster University, Canada. His programme of work examined how processes associated with sensorimotor integration modulate sensorimotor learning and control in autism spectrum disorders.

Claudia Giambartolomei, Ph.D.

Claudia Giambartolomei's interest lies in finding new ways of integrating large-scale genomic data to improve our understanding of the molecular mechanisms leading to differences in phenotypes and disease risk in human biology. She completed her Ph.D. in genomics of complex diseases at the University College of London, and has specialized on integrative methodologies in psychiatric disorders as a postdoctoral fellow at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine and later on in Pasaniuc's lab at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Purnima Manghnani, Ph.D.

Dr Purnima Manghnani received her Bachelor Degree in Chemical Engineering from Anna University in 2012. She obtained a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the National University of Singapore in 2018. She performed her doctoral research in Professor Bin Liu’s group. Her research interests include development and scaling up synthesis of theranostic nanoparticles and assessing nano-bio interactions in the zebrafish model.

Ana Martins, Ph.D.

Dr Ana Martins obtained her B.S. degree in Applied Biology and a M.Sc on Processing and Characterization of Materials at the University of Minho. In 2009 she completed her Ph.D. working on the development, characterization and modification with biomimetic coatings of novel scaffolds for bone tissue engineering. During her Ph.D., she received a scholarship from EXPERTISSUES for her doctoral research enabling her to perform her studies at Rice University, Houston, USA. In June of 2010 she started a Postdoc to develop her research project regarding the generation of iPS cells using non-viral vectors and cardiomyocytes differentiation at University of Minho and Columbia University. Her research interests include new conductive biomaterials for tissue engineering and disease modeling, cell culture and differentiation of iPSCs, and rare diseases.

Shoshy Mizrahy, Ph.D.

Dr Shoshy Mizrahy received her B.Sc. in biotechnology and food engineering from the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), M.Sc. in Medical Sciences and Ph.D. in Nanomedicine from Tel-Aviv University (Israel). Her Ph.D. thesis, under the supervision of Prof. Dan Peer, focused on Hyaluronan-coated lipid nanoparticles: Physicochemical, structural and immunological considerations for optimized drug carriers. Her research interests focus on neurotropic virus inspired lipid nanoparticle for nucleic acid delivery to the CNS. Before joining the MINDED programme, she was involved in several applicative projects and held both research and business development positions in the rapidly growing Israeli biotech industry.

Thomas Moore, Ph.D.

Dr. Thomas Moore received his BSc from Clemson University in Bioengineering with a focus on biomaterials. He continued at Clemson and received his PhD in Bioengineering under the direction of Prof. Frank Alexis. His dissertation work was focused on developing theranostic nanoparticles for treating cancer. Before joining the MINDED programme, Thomas worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Adolphe Merkle Institute in Fribourg, Switzerland under Profs. Alke Petri-Fink and Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser where he studied fundamental interactions of nanoparticles with biological systems. His research interests include understanding particle transport across biological barriers, particles in hydrodynamic systems, and colloidal behavior of particles in complex media.

Martina Pannuzzo, Ph.D.

Dr Martina Pannuzzo obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology, Master’s degree in Biomolecular Chemistry and Ph.D. in Chemical Science from the University of Catania (Italy). During her Ph.D. studies, she was awarded several European fellowships to visit important research groups. She received a prize for the best Ph.D. thesis in Computational Biophysics for 2010-2012 from the Italian Biophysical Society. She spent three years, from 2012-2015 at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany as postdoctoral fellow and Principal Investigator in the graduate school of biomembranes. Before joining the MINDED programme, she was a postdoctoral research associate in the Physics Department (Prof. Deserno’s group) at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh (USA).Dr. Pannuzzo’s past and current research focuses mainly on the investigation of biophysical processes by atomistic and coarse grained Molecular Dynamics simulation. Some of her studies looked into the interaction of amyloidogenic peptides with biological membrane, calcium-polymer mediated membrane fusion, the computational modelling of smart polymeric materials, and dynamin mediated fission events.

Arunkumar Pitchaimani, Ph.D.

Dr Arunkumar Pitchaimani obtained his MSc in Biotechnology at the Sastra University, India and his PhD in Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, Tamilnadu, India. Before joining the MINDED programme, he has been working as a post-doctoral research fellow in the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), India and Nanotechnology Innovation Center of Kansas State (NICKS), Kansas State University, USA, under the supervision of Prof. Santosh Aryal, PhD. His research interest focus on the Targeted brain delivery of therapeutics across blood brain barrier using Biomimetic nanoconstructs.

Alessandro Simi, Ph.D.

Dr Alessandro Simi obtained his BSc and MSc in Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnologies at the University of Genova and his PhD in Neuroscience and Brain Technologies at UniGe - Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia of Genova. He moved to Lausanne (Switzerland) in Dr Mehdi Tafti’s group at the Center of Integrative Genomics (CIG) where he took part in the “Sleep-in-a-dish” research project studying sleep-like behavior in neuronal cortical cultures using microelectrode array technology. Before joining the MINDED programme, he worked as a Post Doc Fellow in M. Studer’s lab at Institut de Biologie Valrose in Nice (France), where he investigated the role of transcription factors in cortical development and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr. James Strachan, Ph.D.

Dr. James Strachan completed his BSc in Psychology and MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of York. He then went on to do his PhD with Prof. Steve Tipper looking at how incidental learning of gaze behaviour affects social judgements of trust. Since then, he has worked as a postdoc in the Social Mind and Body lab at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, working with Profs. Natalie Sebanz and Guenther Knoblich to study coordination and joint action. His current research involves studying the communicative kinematic modulations used by teachers to structure sensorimotor learning in students, and how these modulations are strategically executed and pragmatically interpreted.

Elsa Zacco, Ph.D.

Dr Elsa Zacco graduated in Molecular Biotechnologies at the University of Milano-Bicocca in partnership with the University of Birmingham, where she carried out her MSc research. She obtained her PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at the Free University of Berlin, during which she developed peptide-based scaffolds for the delivery of biologically-relevant molecules for vaccine development and gene therapy. Before joining the MINDED programme, Elsa was awarded the Newton International Fellowship and joined the lab of Prof Annalisa Pastore at King’s College London, within the Dementia Research Institute. She was then hired as Associate Research Fellow to carry out her studies on the molecular mechanism of dementia and ALS. Her research interest focuses on protein misfolding and protein-RNA interaction in neurological disorders.

Former Minded Fellows

  • Michel Akselrod, Ph.D
  • Hamed Arami, Ph.D.
  • Nuria Rius Camps, Ph.D.
  • Valerio Di Carlo, Ph.D.
  • Jean-François Patri, Ph.D.
  • Alessandra Sclip, Ph.D.
  • Ilse Van Der Werf, Ph.D.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 754490.
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