Fellows


ESR1 Linda Del Bino ESR1 Linda Del Bino

del_bino

I graduated in March 2014 in Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology (combined Bachelor and Master degree) at the University of Pisa. During the undergraduate lecture courses, I got an extensive training in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics and I developed a remarkable preference for organic and medicinal chemistry. My university research project aimed on studying the regio- and stereoselective behaviour of carbapyranose 1,2-epoxides in nucleophilic addition reactions; in the same period, thanks to an international collaboration between the University of Pisa and the University of Urbana-Champaign, I worked on developing a synthetic route for the synthesis of a glycoconjugate as potential modulator of glucidic metabolism. After my graduation and after three months spent as a research fellow at the University of Pisa, I moved to Gothenburg, Sweden, where I joined the AstraZeneca Innovative Medicine and Early Development Graduate Programme. During the two years of the programme I did three job rotations, the first in Medicinal Chemistry, the second in the Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics department and the last one in the Chemistry Automation group. The period spent at AstraZeneca allowed me to put into practice what I studied during my degree in a stimulating and dynamic environment and to apply my chemistry knowledge to the delivery of target compounds according to projects deadlines. I have worked with cutting edge ideas and technologies and I have been challenged to explore and put myself to the test in other research areas apart from chemistry.

In October 2016 I started my PhD project in GSK Vaccines in Siena as part of the GLYCOVAX project. The title of my project is “Synthesis of oligosaccharides libraries from Group B Streptococcus capsular polysaccharide for structure-based selection of vaccine candidates”; the aim of the project is the preparation, in collaboration with the University of Leiden and the Institute of Molecular Medicine (Lisbon), of well-defined glycoconjugates in order to determine a correlation between structures and immunological properties.

ESR2 Meenakshi Singh ESR2 Meenakshi Singh

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I obtained my Master’s degree in Analytical Chemistry (Gurukul Kangri University, India). As a part of my Master’s thesis, I worked at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Bhopal, where I focused on kinetic studies of organoselenium compounds, mainly Se-N heterocycles. After my Master’s, I joined IISER Bhopal, where I moved to organic synthesis and worked on methodology development for biologically relevant molecules, and then at Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Czech Republic, where I focused on the total synthesis of bioactive prenylated indole alkaloids, which display a broad range of important biological activities. Working in different fields (Analytical Chemistry, Organic Synthesis, Natural Product synthesis and Carbohydrate Chemistry) has endowed me with the abilities to have a broader perspective of research and has equipped me with the knowledge to appreciate and tackle the intriguing challenges. All my research work and training resulted into four published articles as a co-author.

As a fellow of the GLYCOVAX network, I work at University of Milan (UMIL), Italy and my current PhD project explores the synthetic scheme for the synthesis of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) Type II Oligosaccharide followed by glycan array and structural studies with specific antibodies and their immunochemical characterization. My project involves trainings at different institutions and elite scientists from the GLYCOVAX network: Luigi Lay (UMIL, Principal supervisor); M. Salwiczek (GU); S. Flitsch (UNIMAN); and J. Jiménez-Barbero (CIC bioGUNE). Next to my work as a researcher I enjoy travelling and I am passionate about nature.

ESR3 Ludovic Auberger ESR3 Ludovic Auberger

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My scientific vocation did begin in 2010 in Orleans, when I started my formation in chemistry. There, I have been graduated as a bachelor in chemistry in 2012, after an eight-week internship at the ICOA (Institut de Chimie Organique et Analytique). During this first lab experience I have been part of “the development of new inhibitors of glycosidase and the elaboration of iminosugars” under the supervision of Dr. Estelle Gallienne and Pr. Olivier R. Martin. Then I have been holder of a Master degree of research in organic chemistry in 2015 in Lyon. There, to achieve my first master year, I have done an internship in Prof. Dr. Claus Jacob's laboratory on the "synthesis of novel polysulfides and chalcogens with suspected biological activity" in the University of Saarlands, Germany. This methodology project has taught me how to manage Selenium and Tellurium derivatives (very toxic), from their synthesis to their analysis. Finally I have ended my Master with an internship in Lyon. There, I have done the “synthesis and oxidation reactions of 5-azaindoles: en route to azaquinone azaindoles”, under the supervision of Prof. Roland Barret and Dr. Thierry Lomberget. In these 6 months I have carried several metallic reactions with Lithium under a rigorous inert atmosphere. I have learned a lot about the well organization of a researcher's day and about different tools which help me now to write my thesis.

Now, I am part of the GLYCOVAX project to write my thesis on the “Synthesis of MenA carba-analogues and native MenX oligomers for improved anti meningococcal vaccines” in the University of Milano, with Pr. Luigi Lay. In this way I have to carry out the total synthesis of two analogues of the Neisseria Meningitidis A polysaccharide, a N-acetylmannosamine-(1----O-phosphate) repeating unit very labile in water. Thus, this project aims to develop a potent glycoconjugate vaccine against the MenA, hydrolytically stable.

ESR4 Francesca Berni ESR4 Francesca Berni

berni

After obtaining my High school diploma in 2010, I decided to pursue a scientific carreer since I have always been interested in nature and biology. I attended the University Alma Mater Studiorum in Bologna, where I obtained my Bachelor degree in Chemistry and Material Chemistry. During these years, I was fascinated by the organic chemistry and its possible application in different kind of scientific fields. For the dissertation project, I worked on the synthesis of enantiomerical enriched tripodes based on phenol and pyrrol under the supervision of Prof. P.G. Cozzi. This experience helped me to understand that I was more interested in a biological application of synthetic compounds and, for this reason, in 2013 I moved to Milan for a Master in Chemistry. Here I had the possibility to deepen my organic chemistry knowledge as well as biochemistry. My Master thesis project dealt with the synthesis of a library of benzofuran scaffolds as potential modulators of Hsp90 activity under the supervision of Prof. A. Bernardi. This period gave me the chance to explore a wide set of synthesis procedures, some of which involving carbohydrates. I got in touch with sugars finding them very interesting both from the chemical and biological points of view.

Since March 2016, I became a fellow of the GLYCOVAX project joining the group of Dr. J. Codee at the University of Leiden. The aim of my work is the synthesis of well-defined fragments of cell wall components of Gram-positive bacteria. These compounds are useful tools to understand the interaction with the immune system and to design and develop semi/fully synthetic vaccines. This position offers me the possibility not only to expand my knowledge on carbohydrate chemistry but also to explore new scientific research fields such as the study of protein-antigen interaction binding through NMR spectroscopy and the production of monoclonal antibodies.

ESR5 Jacopo Enotarpi ESR5 Jacopo Enotarpi

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My scientific experience started in 2010 when I moved to Bologna, where I began my bachelor in Chemistry. During that time, I had the possibility to study all the different branches of chemistry and, amongst them all, I was fascinated by organic chemistry and its possible applications, especially in the biological-pharmaceutical fields. For these reasons, I have done my bachelor internship in a synthetic lab. The topic of my research was the synthesis of potential anti-malaria drugs; in particular, I synthesized a little library of 1,2-dioxane that could kill Plasmodium falciparum inside the human blood cells. After finishing the bachelor in 2013, I moved to Milan to enroll for a Master in Chemistry at the Università degli Studi di Milano, where I enjoyed the strong organic chemistry community. For more than one year I worked on the synthesis of a mimic of the natural Neisseria Meningitidis A capsular polysaccharides. I spent 6 month working on the project at the University of Leiden as part of the ERASMUS+ programme. During this period, I had the opportunity to study and discover the carbohydrate chemistry. After finishing my master in 2015, I decided that I wanted to pursue a PhD position in order to continue my research activity.

At present, as a fellow of the GLYCOVAX project at the University of Leiden, the aim of my work is to synthesize well-defined antigens that resembles the structures of the outer membrane of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria in order to develop a semi/fully synthetic vaccine.

ESR6 ESR6

ESR6 is no longer a GLYCOVAX fellow.

ESR7 João Louçano ESR7 João Louçano

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I am a PhD student at GlycoUniverse in Berlin, Germany working on solid-phase carbohydrate synthesis. My PhD project within GLYCOVAX is entitled “Automated synthesis of a library of Group B Streptococcus type IV capsular polysaccharide related glycans for vaccine development” , supervised by Prof. Dr. Peter H. Seeberger from the Free University of Berlin. Before commencing my postgraduate studies, I gained my MSc Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Porto in 2009. I subsequently received postgraduate training in MSc Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Minho in 2015 with a thesis titled “Reactivity studies on chromene derivatives”, supervised by Prof. Dr. Maria Fernanda Proença and Dr Marta Costa. The work focused on the reactivity of N-coumaryl pyridinium salts towards nitrogen and carbon nucleophiles. I worked at community pharmacies in both urban (Lisbon) and rural (Alentejo) settings in Portugal. I also worked at the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL) as a Research Assistant, contributing to the synthesis of water stable covalent organic frameworks (COF) for selective adsorption of toxins from sea water.

My principal research interests include the solid-phase synthesis natural oligosaccharides and structure-activity relationship of biological active carbohydrates.

ESR8 ESR8

ESR8 is no longer a GLYCOVAX fellow.

ESR9 Vera Abramova ESR9 Vera Abramova

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I have completed the Bachelor and Master Degrees of Engineering in Biotechnology in Al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty, Kazakhstan. During the course of studies, I worked in the Immunology laboratory in Aitkhozhin Institute of molecular biology and Biochemistry in Almaty. My bachelor and master theses were focused on human T-regulatory cells and NK cells, respectively.

At present, I am working at the Center for Proteomics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Rijeka, Croatia (MEDRI), as part of the project “A training network for the rational design of the next generation of well-defined glycoconjugate vaccines” - GLYCOVAX. My PhD project is aimed to obtain and characterize monoclonal antibodies against capsular polysaccharides of Meningococci and Streptococci after immunization with glycoconjugates. This project involves training under the supervision of Stipan Jonjić, Tihana Lenac Roviš (MEDRI), Maria Rosaria Romano (GSKVACSRL) and Julie Bouckaert (CNRS).

ESR10 Pedro Ricardo Morgado Henriques ESR10 Pedro Ricardo Morgado Henriques

henriques

I obtained my Bachelor degree in Biochemistry in 2012 and MSc in Biotechnology in 2014, both degrees from the Faculty of Sciences and Technology in the New University of Lisbon (FCT-UNL), Portugal. In 2012, during my bachelor degree project, I was introduced to a fascinating field of structural glycobiology. Throughout this period I developed my interest in the study of the molecular determinants of interactions between protein:carbohydrate, that are at the core of host-pathogen recognition, from an atomistic point of view. During my master thesis, I devoted my research at the interface of molecular biology, biophysics and structural biology, to unravel the epitopes of recognition between a soluble domain of an ABC transporter and arabinan glycans, being trained in broad spectrum of techniques from heterologous protein expression to NMR spectroscopy and molecular modeling. My scientific mindset has always been to solve a problem by looking at it, and structural biology allows me to do exactly that, providing me with insights for the development of new therapeutics.

Now, as fellow of the GLYCOVAX network at GSK Vaccines (under the supervision of Dr. Roberto Adamo), I am working in a multidisciplinary project entitled: “Structural characterization of the interaction between meningococcal serogroup A and group B streptococcal carbohydrate antigens towards protective monoclonal antibodies”. The aim of the project is to find and structurally characterize the mode of recognition of small portion of carbohydrate epitopes capable of eliciting protective antibodies (minimal epitopes), from minimal epitope screening to structural characterization of the molecular determinants and finally conduct in vivo surrogate of protection assays. This project will involve secondments at CIC bioGUNE and CNRS under the supervision of Prof. Jesus Jiménez-Barbero and Prof. Julie Bouckaert respectively.

ESR11 Stefania Robakiewicz ESR11 Stefania Robakiewicz

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I hold a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biotechnology from the Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Poland. During my studies I have obtained a broad knowledge of fundamental topics in science such as cell biology, biochemistry, biophysics, histology, physiology and anatomy, embryology, microbiology, virology, immunology, genetics, molecular biology, genetic engineering, bioinformatics and process engineering necessary for my future career development. My Master’s Thesis titled “The Influence of Migrastatin Derivatives on the Migration of Human Mammary and Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Cells” was performed in the Department of Physiological Sciences at WULS, where I learned cell culture techniques and methods for investigating the migration and invasion of adenocarcinoma cells. I have already gained valuable academic experience at various European institutions as well, including Wageningen University & Research Centre and Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Sorbonne Universités). Not only has this broaden my knowledge and research skills but also helped me identify my interests and strengths. In 2013, I conducted research concerning male reproductive health following dietary interventions in the Human and Animal Physiology Group at WUR, Netherlands. During my stay, I mastered main immonohistochemical techniques which allow the identification of specific cellular components by the interaction of target antigens with specific antibodies tagged with a visible label. My second internship in 2015 at the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Sciences at UPMC in Paris regarded a newly discovered family of pheromone receptors in crop pest moths. There I had the chance to use my practical knowledge of qPCR, RT-PCR and DNA & RNA isolation but was also given the opportunity to learn new complex matters such as electrophysiology (SSR) and phylogenetic analysis.

Since October 2016, I am in a PhD programme within the GLYCOVAX European Training Network at Unité de Glycobiologie Structurale et Fonctionnelle at CNRS in Northern France. The title of my project is “Minimal Structural Glyco-Epitope for Antibody Maturation”. The aim of the study is to crystallise Fab fragments from anti-GBS and anti-MenA/X mAbs (expressed in HEK-293 cells) to predict binding with glycan antigens by 3D in silico docking. A more ambitious goal will be the crystallisation of the Fab-glycan complexes in order to determine at atomic detail the contribution of the different sugars involved in binding . This approach will provide crucial information on the minimal requirements for vaccine efficacy and will direct future synthetic work. During the course of the project, I will be seconded to CIC bioGUNE to perform NMR studies and to GSKVACSRL to be trained on analytical techniques for vaccines.

ESR12 Ilaria Calloni ESR12 Ilaria Calloni

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I’m Ilaria Calloni, I was born in Milan, in the north of Italy. I have a Bachelor degree in Biological Sciences and a MSc degree in Industrial Biotechnology at the University of Milano-Bicocca. During my Master’s Research Project I worked on the synthesis and characterization of 6-sulfonate glucose derivatives for use as potential kinase inhibitors, particularly Akt which is widely involved in tumor development. Through this I have gained expertise in design and synthesis of organic biomolecules, in particular carbohydrate mimetics. In part of my Master’s thesis, I also investigated ligand-receptor interactions through NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) experiments. After the degree I was awarded with a CINMPIS fellowship, at the University of Milano-Bicocca. During that time, I completed my thesis project and I worked on the synthesis of small molecules, glucose derivatives, analogous of chondroitin sulfate for use in the functionalization of smart biomaterials for tissue engineering.

Now, I have got a PhD position in the GLYCOVAX network, in particular I am currently working in CIC bioGUNE, in Bilbao (Spain), under the supervision of Prof. Jesús Jiménez-Barbero.

The topic of my PhD project is the ‘’NMR studies of the interactions of glycan antigens with monoclonal antibodies’’ and involves the structural characterization of natural oligosaccharides and their related synthetic sugar mimics with potential antigenic activity by NMR and Molecular Modelling. Thereafter, the molecular recognition of different polysaccharide antigens with mAbs will be addressed.

ESR13 Annabel Katharina Kitowski ESR13 Annabel Katharina Kitowski

kitowski

I studied Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) in Munich and received my Bachelor degree in 2013. While working as research assistant on the synthesis of carbohydrates, I continued with my master program, focusing on organic chemistry and biochemistry. My master thesis research work was performed at the University of Cambridge (UK) and I received my Master degree in January 2016.

In May 2016, I joined the group of Dr. Gonçalo Bernardes at the Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM) in Lisbon for my PhD studies within the GLYCOVAX programme. My PhD project is entitled “New galactose derivatives in inverse electron demand Diels-Alder reactions and metabolic labeling”, and proposes the development of new galactose derivatives with terminal alkene groups as chemical reporter groups which can be selective labelled using tetrazines through an inverse electron demand Diels-Alder reaction. When combined with metabolic oligosaccharide engineering, we aim to use the new bioorthogonal labelling approach to detect and study antigenic structures on human hepatic cells after infection by Plasmodium sporozoites. Our goal is to identify new antigenic structures which can be used for future vaccine development against malaria.

ESR14 Ermioni Kalfopoulou ESR14 Ermioni Kalfopoulou

kalfopoulou

Molecular Biology has fascinated me since my first years in the School of Pharmacy, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh), and for this reason I elected to perform a one-year long undergraduate research thesis in the laboratory of Cell and Molecular Biology. This research work introduced me to the study of HSV-1 and inspired me to further my knowledge on the mechanisms that cells use to interact with their environment and understand how pathogens, e.g. viruses, exploit such pathways to invade the cells. In 2013, I obtained my Diploma in Pharmacy and I applied to and was accepted in the post-graduate program "Pharmaceutical Biotechnology -Molecular Diagnostics" of the School of Pharmacy, AUTh, in order to expand my theoretical and research training. During the second year of my postgraduate studies I performed my Master’s Thesis, which focused on improving folding of recombinant proteins, e.g. chemokines, produced in Escherichia coli and protein refolding in vitro. This research training further improved my background in molecular biology, biochemistry techniques and sparked my interest in immunology. Both my research projects had significant therapeutic potential and biotechnological applications, especially in vaccine production, which correlates well with my background in Pharmacy and Pharmacology.

As a part of the GLYCOVAX project, I will focus on the selection of potential vaccine candidates against enterococci and their immunological evaluation. In addition, I will have the opportunity to visit GSKVACSRL, UL and IMM and learn methodologies related to the rational design of glycoconjugate vaccines under the supervision of J. Huebner (LMU Munich), J. Codée (UL), M. R. Romano (GSKVACSRL) and G. Bernardes (IMM).

ESR15 Claudia Vera Kohout ESR15 Claudia Vera Kohout

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I was studying Chemistry for my Masters at the University of Vienna and obtained my degree in October 2016. For my Masters studies, I focused mainly on organic chemistry and for my Master’s thesis I was working in the research group of Professor Paul Kosma (Natural Resources and Life Science University, Vienna) to focus on carbohydrate chemistry. After obtaining my Master’s degree, I decided to go abroad for an internship in the research group of Professor Antony J. Fairbanks (University of Canterbury, New Zealand) to gain more international experience and to deepen my knowledge in carbohydrate chemistry.

Now I am a fellow of the GLYCOVAX network and I am working at the University of Milan (UMIL, Italy) under the supervision of Prof. Luigi Lay. My PhD project is about the synthesis of the capsular polysaccharide of Haemophilus influenzae type a. In cooperation with different European institutes, the oligosaccharides will be linked to defined protein conjugates and their epitopes will be studied. The planned secondments are with: Dr Jeroen Codée (University Leiden, Netherlands), Dr Gonçalo Bernardes (Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Portugal) and Dr Roberto Adamo (GSK Vaccines, Italy). Besides my enthusiasm for chemistry, I enjoy sports like hiking and volleyball and additionally, I love to travel to see different countries and cultures.

ESR16 Andrea Marchesi ESR16 Andrea Marchesi

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I started to be keen on science during high school studies, where I got a first approach to biology and chemistry. I started my university career at Universitá degli Studi di Milano in 2012, studying pharmaceutical biotechnology. During the three years of my undergraduate studies, I develop knowledge on molecular biology, pharmacology and organic chemistry. My thesis was on the synthesis of artificial metal-enzyme for the asymmetrical reduction of cyclic imines. In particular, I enjoyed the application of the biotechnology to organic chemistry, so I chose to enroll in a Master’s degree in industrial biotechnology at Universitá degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca in 2015. There I got in touch with sugar chemistry, developing a thesis work on the synthesis of glycidic derivates to develop glycoconjugates biomaterial and enhancing my knowledge and practical skills in organic chemistry and analytical techniques such as NMR spectroscopy and mass spectrometry.

On 1st August 2017 I started my PhD at University of Manchester (UK) under the supervision of Prof. Sabine Flitsch, in the GLYCOVAX network. The title of my project is "Chemo-enzymatic strategies for the synthesis of sialylated oligosaccharides" and it focuses on obtaining oligosaccharides of medical interest through enzymatic or chemo-enzymatic routes and on the development of glycan arrays based on mass spectrometry analysis.

 

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