Claudine Kieda (Warszawa & Orleans)
As a research director at CNRS, Center for Molecular Biophysics, Orleans, France and presently developing a research laboratory devoted to Molecular Oncology and Innovative Therapies in Poland, Claudine Kieda has been focusing on the glycobiology part of the regulation of the cell-to-cell crosstalk in the context of the pathologic microenvironment. From the discovery of the presence of endogenous membrane lectins in lymphocytes to the organo-specificity of endothelial cells, their biological adaptation to external factors and plasticity the led to the design of adjuvant strategies for therapeutic effectiveness. The main strategies for therapies are devoted to hypoxia dependent diseases with the aim to alleviate the state of hypoxia for its decisive effect on mediating the establishment and propagation of the characteristic pathologies in developed societies as cancer, diabetes, heart failure, neurodegenerative diseases, and presently, CoViD-19-dependent respiratory distress. Microenvironment regulation by angiogenesis normalization is the challenge for its positive influence on the overall immune response and local immune recruitment. Besides the international cooperation with the USA (NIAID, NIH, Bethesda, Tuft University in Boston) and Israel (Biophysics Department of the Weizmann Institute, Rehovot) a large proportion of the career was dedicated to the joint research activity with the Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology of the Jagiellonian University.
Remarkably, this activity led to common diplomas in biology and influenced the further expansion of the French Polish cooperation (namely chemistry and law) and co-tutorial theses. The International Associated Laboratory of the Jagiellonian University and CNRS (2013-2020) testified the CNRS approval of the quality of the research and didactic levels.
Giulio Cossu (Manchester)
Giulio Cossu is the Constance Thornley Professor of Regenerative Medicine at Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester (UK) and BIH Visiting Professor at Charité Medical Faculty and Max Delbrück Center in Berlin. Germany. Professor Cossu has been working for many years on skeletal myogenesis and on the development of cell therapy protocols with stem cells for muscular dystrophy.
He showed that neural tube and dorsal ectoderm activate, through different Wnts, distinct myogenic programs in epaxial and hypaxial somitic progenitors, and first described myogenic cell heterogeneity.
He developed pre-clinical models of cell therapy for muscular dystrophies using mesoangioblasts, vessel associated myogenic progenitors, identified in the striated muscle of different species. This led to a first in man trial whose protocol is currently being optimised through preclinical work and novel clinical trials.
Alicja Józkowicz (Kraków)
Alicja Józkowicz is a professor of biological sciences at the Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. She graduated in 1991 and obtained her PhD in 1997 from the same University. Her research group uses biochemical, molecular and genetic approaches for the analysis of cell differentiation and aging, with a spotlight on cell-cell interactions within the hematopoietic and vascular niches. The current research is focused on heterogeneity of endothelial cells and their mutual crosstalk with the hematopoietic stem cells. The second area of interest is heme metabolism, its role in the regulation of gene expression, and its influence on cell aging and genome integrity. Project: www.nicheworks.eu
Markus Ruegg (Basel)
Markus Ruegg is Professor of Neurobiology at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, Switzerland. His scientific interest is the development and the maintenance of the neuromuscular system, which is documented in more than 150 publications. In recent years, his research focuses on signaling pathways important for muscle maintenance and on the development of therapeutic strategies for a rare, congenital muscular dystrophy, called MDC1A or LAMA2 MD. In 2000, Dr. Ruegg helped to set-up MyoContract, now called Santhera Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a biotech company dedicated to develop therapies for neuromuscular diseases. In 2019, Santhera and the Ruegg laboratory started a collaboration that aims to develop an AAV-based gene therapy for MDC1A/LAMA2 MD.
Serena Zacchigna (Trieste)
Serena Zacchigna received her MD at the University of Trieste, Italy in 2000. After her PhD at the International School for Advanced Studies (ISAS), Italy, she moved to Peter Carmeliet Laboratory at VIB in Leuven (Belgium) as a Marie-Curie post-doctoral research fellow from 2006-2008 to work on the neurovascular link. In 2009 she returned to Trieste, where she first joined the Molecular Medicine Laboratory at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) and then established her own research group in 2016. She is currently Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Trieste and leads the Cardiovascular Biology Group at the ICGEB. She is member of the Regional Ethical Committee and she represents the ICGEB at the UN Agency Committee for Bioethics, which serves as a key inter-agency mechanism for sharing information between intergovernmental organizations dealing with bioethical issues, with particular interest in the regulatory and ethical aspects governing the use of gene therapy, genome editing and cell therapy in the various countries.
Her work focuses on the cross-talk between the various cell types residing in the heart during development and disease. In particular, she is dissecting the molecular mechanisms mediating the communication between endothelial cells and cardiomyocytes, with the ultimate goal of promoting effective neo-vascularization following heart ischemia.
Piotr Trzonkowski (Gdańsk)
Piotr Trzonkowski, professor of Immunology, actively involved in the clinical research with T regulatory cells and mechanisms of immunosuppression for over 20 years. His group developed and applied first-in-man protocols of the treatment with expanded T regulatory cells.
He was graduated from the Medical University of Gdańsk in 1999. In 2003 he defended Ph.D. thesis on the suppressive mechanisms in human immunosenescence which included his first works on T regulatory cells. From 2004, he had worked at the Oxford University on the immune background of the depleting therapy with alemtuzumab in kidney transplant recipients. He was also involved there in the work on T regulatory cells biology. These studies were continued after getting back to Poland as PI in the Department of Medical Immunology, Medical University of Gdańsk and also as a visiting professor in the Department of Surgery, University of Chicago. The trials on clinical application of T regulatory cells supervised by prof. Trzonkowski covered graft versus host disease, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and pancreatic islets allotransplantation. In 2015, he set up a spin-off PolTREG in order to commercialize the therapy. His group conducts also a research in novel approaches to cellular therapy in autoimmune and malignant diseases in man, synthesis of immunosuppressive small-particle drug candidates and posttransplant laboratory diagnostics in allograft recipients. In 2017, he has been awarded with the highest scientific award in Poland, the Foundation for Polish Science Prize in the life and earth sciences in 2017 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DrzGVNxjj8, https://www.fnp.org.pl/prof-piotr-trzonkowski-laureat-nagrody-fnp-2017/)
Eran Perlson (Tel Aviv)
Prof. Eran Perlson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Tel-Aviv Faculty of Medicine and Sagol school of Neuroscience at Tel-Aviv University, Israel. For the past decade, Perlson research has focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration and regeneration, using neuronal cultures in vitro and Tg mice models in vivo. His molecular neurodegeneration research group, seek to understand the axonal transport and local protein synthesis processes that regulate spatiotemporal signaling and metabolic events essential for neuron health. Prof. Perlson and his team have developed a unique Lab-on-a-Chip platform that enable to co-culture motor neurons and muscles on a silicon devise. This platform mimics the motor unit and provides a simplified way to study mechanisms of neuromuscular junction formation, maintenance and disruption at subcellular levels. Using single-molecule imaging and cutting edge technologies, he gain new mechanistic knowledge on how molecular signals act at the right place, right time, and right intensity to control neuron survival and synapse maintenance in neurodegenerative diseases.
Krzysztof Pyrć (Kraków)
Virologist. Graduated from Jagiellonian University (M.Sc.), University of Amsterdam (Ph.D.), and University of Lodz (habilitation). In January 2019 received the title of Professor in the field of biological sciences. He specializes in emerging RNA viruses (mainly coronaviruses and flaviviruses), with particular emphasis on mechanisms of infection and the development of new therapeutic strategies. Head of the Laboratory of Virology at the Malopolska Centre of Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University. A certified project manager. Leader of Virogenetics research group, supervisor, and promoter of students and Ph.D. students. Authored ~120 publications in journals as Nature Medicine, Science Translational Medicine, PNAS, Science Signaling. Reviewer and expert in science funding institutions in Poland and abroad (Horizon2020, ERC, FNP, NCN, and others). Author of several patent applications and patents, on the basis of which 2 spin-off companies have already been established (Acatavir and StartIt Vet). Manager and coordinator of numerous research grants, including under Horizon2020, IMI2, European Cooperation in Science and Technology, NCN, FNP, NCBIR, and MNiSW, as well as grants funded by commercial entities.
Deputy chairman of the Polish Academy of Sciences think-tank. Member of governmental advisory teams supporting the fight with the pandemic on the local, national and European Levels. Expert of the AOTMiT in the field of SARS-CoV-2 therapy and diagnostics.
Jonathan Kimmelman (Montreal)
Jonathan Kimmelman is the James McGill Professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, the director of Biomedical Ethics Unit. He received his PhD in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University, and since 2005 he has been working at McGill University. He was the chairman of the Ethical Committee of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), which in 2016 and 2021 prepared guidelines on cell therapies, warning against their unjustified and premature use, especially commercial. He has published in Nature Medicine, Science, The Lancet, Stem Cell Reports, ELife, Bioethics, and others. Currently, he is also a visiting professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences of the Collegium Medicum of the Jagiellonian University. Professor Kimmelman was a lecturer at the 6th Eurobiotech Congress in Krakow in 2017
More about his research at: https://www.mcgill.ca/biomedicalethicsunit/faculty/kimmelman