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.
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.
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.
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.
Dr Ilse van der Werf obtained her BSc in Molecular Life Sciences and MSc in Molecular Mechanisms of Disease at the Radboud University Nijmegen. During her Master’s programme, she conducted research in the group of Prof. Veltman at the Radboud University medical centre (Nijmegen, the Netherlands) and the group of Prof. Reymond at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland), during which she studied the effects of genetic aberrations on the transcriptome of patients with neurodevelopmental disorders. She obtained her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Antwerp, where she studied rare genetic causes of neurodevelopmental disorders, with a specific focus on intellectual disability and autism. Her research interests include the functional characterization of genetic defects underlying neurodevelopmental disorders, using patient-derived neuronal networks and mouse models.
Dr Nuria Rius Camps obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Master’s degree in Advance Genetics and Ph.D. in Genetics from Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). She developed her research in the Genetics, Bioinformatics and Evolution group (UAB) with Prof. Alfredo Ruiz from 2009 to 2015 and was awarded a fellowship to visit Prof. Cedric Feschotte's Lab (University of Texas at Arlington) in 2011. During those years she studied transposable elements in Drosophila genomes.Nuria’s research interests include the impact transposable elements have on the genomes they inhabit, their role on genome regulation and evolution. She has experience with transposable element annotation and characterization using both molecular biology and bioinfomatic tools. Nuria has joined Prof. Stefano Gustincich’s group in IIT as a MINDED fellow to explore the role of transposable elements in neurodvelopmental disorders.
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.
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.
Dr Alessandra Sclip obtained her BSc and MSc in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at the University of Milan and her PhD with the The Open University working at the “Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri” in Milan. Before joining the MINDED programme, she has been doing her post-doctoral training at Stanford University, under the supervision of Prof. Thomas C. Südhof, PhD. Her research interests focus on the characterization of active zone proteins and their involvement in neurological disorders, including autism and schizophrenia.
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.
Dr Michel Akselrod studied bio-engineering at the Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne (EPFL, Switzerland). He specialized in neuro-engineering and obtained his PhD from the doctoral school of Neuroscience at EPFL. During his thesis, he used high resolution fMRI to map and study body representations in primary sensorimotor areas. In particular, he was interested in the plasticity of body representations in amputees and potential applications in the field of neuroprosthetics. His current research focuses on studying plasticity in multisensory body representation, as well as their link to cognitive functions and subjective experience.
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.
Dr Valerio Di Carlo obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Master’s degree in Molecular Biology and Ph.D. in Pasteurian Science at Sapienza University of Rome (Italy). During his PhD, he conducted his research in the group of Professor Irene Bozzoni, studying the role of proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases. Before joining the MINDED programme, he had been working as a post-doctoral Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona (Spain) under the supervision of Professor Luciano Di Croce, with whom he studied the roles of epigenetic complexes on development and diseases. His research interests are focused on the characterization of genes involved in neurodegenerative diseases as well as the development of RNA-based drugs.
Dr Hamed Arami was a National Institute of Health (NIH) T32 post-doctoral fellow at Stanford Cancer Imaging Training (SCIT) program. He has been working in Dr. Gambhir’s laboratory at Stanford School of Medicine, investigating advancements at the interface of nanomedicine, medical devices and cancer diagnosis and therapy. He received his dual-title PhD in 2015, in Materials Science (MSE) and Nanotechnology and Molecular Engineering (NTME) from University of Washington. His research interests are development and clinical translation of innovative and highly sensitive biomedical devices and using advanced technologies for diagnosis and targeted therapy of diseases, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Through Minded fellowship, he will lead collaborative research between Stanford and IIT to develop novel methods for neuromodulation using nanomedicine and microdevices.
Dr Jean-François Patri received a Master degree in Theoretical Physics from the University Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI) and a Master degree in Cognitive Sciences from the Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble (Grenoble INP). Before joining the MINDED programme, he obtained his PhD from Grenoble University under the supervision of Prof Pascal Perrier, Dr Julien Diard and Dr Jean-Luc Schwartz. During his thesis he studied speech motor control and focused on the development of a Bayesian Model to study variability, multisensory integration and perceptuo-motor interactions in speech motor planning. He joined the MINDED programme to investigate how motor variability affects action observation and prediction in both typically developing individuals and individuals with autism, by applying principles of Information Theory to the analysis of behavioural, psychophysical and neuroimaging data from cognitive experiments.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.