In 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!
held at the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy (March 19th-21st, 2018)
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.
She was born in Islamabad Pakistan. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Physics with majors in Nanotechnology from International Islamic University (IIU) Islamabad in 2012. After that she did her Masters in Materials and Surface Engineering from National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan in 2014. During her Master’s, she worked on improving the efficiency of ZnO/ Graphene nanocomposite based hybrid photovoltaic devices. she has also worked as a Research assistant at NUST and worked on different projects like dielectric spectroscopy of Graphene/ Thermoplastic Polyurethane nanocomposites, Liquid Crystal based Biosensors and Synthesis of ZnO nanofibers via Electrospinning technique. Also went to Tallinn University of Technology (TTU), Estonia as part of a research internship in 2017. During her stay at Estonia she worked on ZnO nanorods synthesis via Chemical Spray Pyrolysis (CSP) technique and to make their composite with Graphene via the same technique for photocatalytic applications. Her research interests includes Nanotechnology, Graphene based Biosensors, Nanocomposites, Functionalization, Photovoltaic devices.
Ms. Silvina Samy was born and grew up in Braga (Portugal). She started her research career investigating and developing distinct 3D therapeutic strategies aimed for spinal cord injuries and peripheral nerve regeneration; exploring the knowledge from the fields of Tissue Engineering, Neurosciences and Stem Cells Research at the 3B’s Research Group (Portugal) and the Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS, Portugal). Next, she joined the Unit of Neuronal Regeneration of the Institute of Health Carlos III (ISCIII, Spain) for a 6 months traineeship in the framework of INOV Contacto program (fostered by the Portuguese government). Later, during her master thesis project she focused on the design, testing and optimization of microfluidic platforms for nucleic acid separation and purification aimed for research and quality control purposes. In 2016, she joined the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL, Portugal) as a research assistant focused on the preclinical validation of a microfluidics-based system for sensitive and minimally invasive rare cell isolation and characterization to monitor the oncological disease progression.
Her main interest is to add value to society by bridging the gap between academia and the healthcare industry through the development of innovative diagnostic and monitoring systems. Such systems could be used in the fight against several diseases with the purpose of detecting disease early onset; ultimately impacting the immediate clinical decisions to be made and consequently the patients’ quality of life, while alleviating the global healthcare costs.
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.