CIEN/Queen Sofia Foundation, CIBERNED and Residencia de Estudiantes (Spanish Research Council, CSIC), Spain

9th-11th October 2018

The Network Research Symposium (NE-5) included items from three of the network training events of the BBDiag project.

• NE-4 Summer School on interdisciplinary research methods, skills & ethics
• NE-5 Residential workshop on innovation & entrepreneurship and
• NE-6 Network Research Symposium.

This meeting was held in Madrid in October 2018 over three days and the agenda included the above workshops and also the Mid Term Review Meeting with the Project Officer from the EU Commission.

The first day was held at the CIEN/Queen Sofía Foundation for Alzheimer Disease, a Spanish organization in charge of the biggest Alzheimer’s disease clinical project. The opening and welcoming of the meeting were conducted by the General Director of Universities from the Spanish Ministry of Science, the General Director of the Health of the Madrid Community, the manager of the CIEN Foundation, and the coordinator of the BBDiag project Prof. Genhua Pan.

The day was dedicated to training the Early Stage Researchers (ESR’s) on ethics issues in preclinical and clinical research, with talks delivered from Professor Rabano, Professor Medina and Professor Montolliu). A further talk was delivered by Professor Bartlett on academic and research paper writing skills: “Lost in translation: the art of writing in the sciences”.

Additionally, there was a guided tour of the CIEN Foundation to show ESR’s and PI’s, how this Centre operates. We were lucky enough to been shown all of its facilities, including the MRI facilities, the brain bank and the Research Program at the Vallecas project regarding Alzheimer disease (patients as well as aged-volunteers).

The second day focused on “Targeting insulin resistance in the brain as a nutraceutical approach in Alzheimer disease”, followed by a round-table meeting with some discussions between entrepreneurs from the industry perspective.

Finally, the second half and final day was dedicated to the BBDIAG project Mid Term Review Meeting, which was attend by the European Commission Project Officer in charge of our consortium. During this time all PI’s and ESR’s gave presentations on their role within the Project and results and the Coordinator gave the PO an update on the progress of the project as a whole. It gave the PO a chance to meet all members and to discuss project related matters with all parties. Furthermore, the PO gave some valuable feedback and suggestions on how to continue the success within the Project.

Over the three days, we tried to cover the following training needs for the ESRs: writing skills, preclinical and clinical ethics issues and innovation and entrepreneurship. Five external speakers were invited for these training lectures, with the purpose of bringing the professionals to the ESR’s.

During these days, we also had a series of social activities, such as a Segway tour to visit the center of Madrid and a guided tour of the Prado Museum. These social activities, along with the fact that some of the ESRs were housed at the Residencia de Estudiantes (Spanish Research Council, CSIC) provided them with the opportunity to establish closer social relationships among them and fruitful discussions regarding their research.

Network Research Symposium

BeijijngIn May 2018 the first China-Europe Symposium, jointly organised by the BBDiag consortium and its Chinese partner, was successfully held in Beijing, China. The Joint Beijing Symposium is one of the events within the network with an international dimension and with an aim to promote research collaboration with China in early Alzheimer’s Disease diagnostic technology. The symposium was attended by over 50 researchers in the field from China, Europe and the rest of the world.  Ten BBDiag Early Stage Researchers, some supervisors and Project Coordinator Professor Genhua Pan travelled to Beijing to deliver talks on their research topics and discuss their findings. Some ESRs who could not attend the symposium in person had given their talks via Skype. Local organizer Prof. Yi Tang from Xuan Wu Hospital organised for experts from China and Hong Kong to attend and deliver talks on the advancements and research they have made in early diagnostics for AD and also students from the Xuan Wu Hospital.

The event was opened with a talk by the highly esteemed Prof. Jianping Jia of Xuan Wu Hospital Capital Medical Hospital. Over the next two days subject specific talks were delivered by invited experts in the field of AD diagnosis and biomarkers, BBDiag ESR’s and PI’s.  These talks sparked and encouraged fruitful discussions amongst the audience and experts, raised interesting and challenging points with prospects for future collaborations.

Prof Yi Tang also organised and hosted a wonderful welcome meal, which allowed all attendees the opportunity to continue their fruitful conversations.

Finally, the ESR’s and PI’s after an informative and constructive two day symposium had a once in a life time experience and visited the Great Wall of China, one of the seven wonders of the world!

Residential workshop in Rome

held at the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy (March 19th-21st, 2018)

Residential workshop in Swansea

held at the Swansea University, Wales (September 11th-15th, 2017)


During the “Rome Training Meeting” of the European Horizon2020 Marie Skłodowska Curie project “Blood Biomarker-based Diagnostic Tools for Early Stage Alzheimer’s Disease” held at the Sapienza University of Rome (March 19th-21st, 2018), senior and early stage researchers of several Countries have discussed a new plan for the monitoring of blood biomarkers, cognitive functions, and lifestyle in patients with Alzheimer’s disease by innovative graphene-based devices and information and communication technology services.

The local organizer, Prof. Claudio Babiloni (Department of Physiology and Pharmacology “Erspamer”, Sapienza University of Rome), opened the Meeting introducing the concept of “Italian Baroque” as a useful metaphor in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease. External Lecturers of the Meeting dealt with important challenges in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease. Prof. Ferdinando Nicoletti (Sapienza University of Rome) depicted a new provocative scenario where the pathophysiological diagnostic biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease (i.e. amyloid beta 1-42 protein) and its underlying biological substrate may represent a physiological resource rather than an enemy in the drug discovery pathway. Dr. Fulvio Galeazzi and Dr. Valeria Ardizzone (GARR, Italy) described the significant resource of innovative biomedical services of the GARR platform “DECIDE” for the biomarker-based diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, Prof. Laura Bonanni (University of Chieti, Italy) emphasized the issue of specificity in the discovery of new biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease, especially at the border with other progressive neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Lewy Body diseases.

During the Meeting, all early stage researchers and their mentors (see the Meeting Agenda in the following) presented main objectives, milestones, and deliverables of investigations planned in the BBDiag project. The discussion was very fruitful paving the plan of secondments of the early stage researchers and shared protocols, databases, analysis tools, and other resources (including those for exploitation of the discoveries in the reference market) for successful research along the project. In this context, these researchers will be involved in the development of graphene-based devices for the measurement of new blood biomarkers in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease and selected seniors with preclinical (before cognitive deficits) or prodromal (mild cognitive deficits) stages of that disease.

The Coordinator of BBDiag project, Prof. Genhua Pan (University of Plymouth), chaired the general discussion of the project towards its ambitious objectives.

The Meeting was video recorded and enriched by short interviews to all early stage researchers, mentors, and external lecturers for the dissemination of the core messages through social media in the coming weeks. During the pauses of the Meeting (e.g. coffee breaks), pictures and music of Italian Baroque livened up the environment. Furthermore, a lecture entitled “Italian Baroque in Music” was held by M° Stefano Rotondi (flute) and Ms. Rebecca Rotondi (cello) before the social dinner of March 20th.



Mr. Bin Gao was born and grew up in Hebei Province, China. He received his Bachelor’s Degrees in Management from the Tianjin University, China in 2012 and Master of Science Degree in Management from Purdue University (USA) in 2013. He also obtained his Master’s Degree in Finance from Tianjin University, China in 2015. After his graduation, he worked as a Research Analyst Futures First Investment Consulting Co. Ltd., China. He has been awarded as the designation of Chartered Financial Analysts by the CFA Institute (USA). His current research interests include business with management, finance, and business model innovation. His goal is to apply his knowledge and skills to develop an innovative business model that will commercialize the technology development of the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in order to improve the overall quality of life and add value to society. 


The first BBDiag residential workshop titled “Multidisciplinary foundation courses for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) diagnosis” took place on 11th – 15th September 2017. Nine recruited Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) and all the supervisors met at the beautiful bay campus of Swansea University, Wales, UK. Three more ESRs who have been appointed but unable to attend also joined the workshop online.

On the first day of workshop, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Richard B. Davies, delivered the opening statement. In his welcoming speech to the ESRs, he highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary cooperation and scientific enthusiasm of young researchers in pursuit of innovative endeavors.

Over the next four days, fourteen subject-specific talks were delivered by the Principal Investigators (PIs) and invited experts in the field of AD diagnosis and biomarkers. The talks sparked the interest of the audience, and there was an active discussion between among the ESRs and PIs. The discussion and the interactions were aimed to provide the ESRs with a common ground for their future research and synergy.

Besides the experienced supervisors, ESRs gave a 10-minute presentation introducing their role in BBDiag project. In addition to the scientific content, the workshop agenda included a few soft-skills talks intended to enhance ESRs’ academic development and employability.

On Friday, 15th of September the ESRs had an opportunity to attend a hands-on lab session in the Centre for Nano Health at the College of Engineering, Swansea University. During the visit of this unique facility, the researchers demonstrated device fabrication and cleanroom semiconductor processing to the ESRs followed by a question-answer session at the end of the tour.

The whole group, ESRs, PIs and invited experts had an opportunity to extend their conversations over regular meals. This, together with the intensive workshop program, gave the newly recruited fellows plenty of room for the ideas exchange on prospective blood biomarkers of AD.

Ms Jessica Janson was born in Gotha, Germany on December 1 st in 1987. She has a degree as graduate engineer in Biomedical Technology from the University of Applied Science Lübeck (2012). Her Masters degree in Medical Biotechnology was awarded by the University of Rostock (2015). In her diploma project she adapted commercial microarray technology for use in micro gravity with EADS Astrium (Immenstaad at Lake Constance), which resulted in two patents. Her second graduate project was developing element and structural analysis methods for Cholesterol and oxalic acid with Celisca (Rostock). She has a passion for combining technology and human biology and found in this project the means to do both.

He was born (1989) and raised in Enugu State, Nigeria. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Electronic Engineering from the University of Nigeria (UNN) in 2013 and 2017, respectively. He specialized in Computer Engineering. He had a strong passion for Medical Electronics. He loved seeing
people stay healthy and productive. His master’s thesis was on the development of biometric-assisted unique patient identifier system. After his graduation from the undergrad and completion of the National Youth Service, he worked as a graduate assistant at the University of Nigeria. His research
interests border on intelligent systems and medical electronics. His goal is to apply his findings and skills to developing systems that will aid and promote healthy living.

Arianna Toppi was born and grew up in the province of Siena (Tuscany, Italy). She received her undergraduate and postgraduate education at the University of Florence. She got the Bachelor degree in Chemical Science in 2014 and during the thesis period she was enrolled in the laboratory of Dr. Lucia Becucci, working on the construction of biomimetic membranes on a Dropping Mercury Electrode. The project aimed at investigating the interactions of lipid environments with a peptide structure called CT35 and its tetraglucosylated form, previously developed as a synthetic antigenic probe recognizing specific autoantibodies in Rett syndrome patients’ serum. In 2016, She spent seven months abroad at the CICbiomaGUNE in San Sebastian (Spain), where she worked on a project under the supervision of Prof. Juan C. Mareque-Rivas, whose aim was the development of a drug delivery system, i.e. porous microparticles made of PLGA (Poly Lactic-co-Glycolic Acid) for the transport of anticancer drugs and the assessment of their cytotoxicity through in vitro assays. In October 2016 I obtained my Master degree in Supramolecular and Inorganic Chemistry. Over the years, She developed a strong interest in the healthcare field and her objective is to give a contribution to the improvement of health and life quality of people.  On the 1st of July 2017 She joined the Fluidic Array Systems and Technology (FAST) Group of Prof. Martin Dufva as PhD student at the Department of Micro- and Nanotechnology of the Technical University of Denmark, working on the multiplexing of digital analysis of serum samples for Alzheimer’s disease diagnostics, using microRNA and proteins as target biomarkers.