Early Stage Researchers

Andrea Mazzoleni


Francesco Niro

ESR02 @ICRC Brno

Gabriele Addario

ESR03 @UMaastricht

Riccardo Francescato


Karol Kugiejko


Helen Kearney

ESR06 @UMaastricht

Ferran Lozano

ESR07 @BiomimX

Elisa Cauli

ESR08 @Accelera

Hélia Fernandes


Alicia Ruppelt

ESR10 @LifeTec

Daniel Sousa

ESR11 @ICRC Brno

Evrim Ceren Kabak


Anaïs Lamouline


Konstantinos Karyniotakis


Rodrigo Torres Garcia



Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI) – Coordinator

Supervisor: Marco Rasponi

Projects: ESR05 & ESR15

Universität Basel (UNIBAS)

Supervisor: Manuele Muraro

Projects: ESR01 & ESR12

Maastricht University (UMaastricht)

Supervisor: Carlos Mota

Projects: ESR03 & ESR06

Fakultni Nemocnice U Sv. Anny V Brne (ICRC Brno)

Supervisor: Giancarlo Forte

Projects: ESR02 & ESR11

Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (UKA)

Supervisor: Peter Boor

Projects: ESR14

Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale, Ospedale Regionale di Lugano – Civico e Italiano (EOC)

Supervisor: Matteo Moretti

Projects: ESR04 & ESR13

Accelera S.r.l. (ACCELERA)

Supervisor: Claudio Bernardi

Projects: ESR08

LifeTec Group BV (LIFETEC)

Supervisor: Marco Stijnen

Projects: ESR10

BiomimX S.r.l. (BIOMIMX)

Supervisor: Paola Occhetta

Projects: ESR07

MTTLab S.r.l. (MTTLAB)

Supervisor: Cristina Degrassi

Projects: ESR09

Partner Organisations

European Institute of Oncology

Scientist: Luigi Nezi

Centro Cardiologico Monzino IRCCS

Scientist: Aoife Gowran

IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Galeazzi

Scientist: Silvia Lopa

STEMCELL Technologies UK

Scientist: Salvatore Simmini

Utrecht University

Scientist: Bart Spee

Management Support Team

Simone Vesentini

Simone Vesentini

Politecnico di Milano

Maria Diletta Damin

Maria Diletta Damin

Politecnico di Milano

Marco Simonini

Marco Simonini

Politecnico di Milano

I am Andrea Mazzoleni, and I will be part of the SINERGIA consortium as an early stage researcher working at Universität Basel. I have graduated with first class honors from Politecnico di Milano as a Biomedical Engineer, specializing in Biomechanics and Biomaterials. I worked on my master thesis in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where I contributed to the development of a single step microfluidic platform for inertial sorting of high-density platelet samples towards patent specific assessment of thrombotic risk. Through my studies I have gained expertise in microfluidics, fluid dynamics and computational methods. During my time as ESR1 in Universität Basel I will be working on the development of a mesoscale perfusion-based multi-well device allowing for smart-throughput drug testing on ex-vivo tumor samples. To address the numerous challenges involved in developing such a system, the project will take advantage of the multi-sectorial expertise of a diverse team of biologists, engineers and clinicians. This study will integrate modern engineering tools for design, validation and manufacture, including CAD softwares, FEM multiphyics analysis, and 3D printing, with human sample collection and manipulation, primary tissue culture, histomorphological analysis, and drug testing. I am an enthusiastic, passionate person with a fascination for the unknown. Through my participation in the SINERGIA network, I strive to make myself better and to leave a significant contribution to scientific community.

Francesco Niro graduated in Biological Sciences at the University of L’Aquila in 2017 and, in 2020, he reached his Master’s degree in Biology Applied to Research in Biomedicine with full marks at the University of Milan.
He decided to embark on a biomedical researcher career after one year of internship in the Laboratory of Vascular Pathology in Cardiology Clinic Monzino (CCM), where he realized his master’s thesis project “Ameliorating precision disease models of dystrophic cardiomyopathy: the role of endocannabinoids and non-myocyte cells”. His thesis project takes part in a greater project financed by ERA CVD: DENIM (Duchenne muscular dystrophy cardiomyopathy – the role of ENdocannabinoids and IMmune regulation) project, which aims to model dystrophic cardiomyopathy using human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).
The experience in CCM has been fundamental because, in addition to learning different laboratory techniques, he appreciated the importance of disease modelling and translating the genetic background of the patient in the “Petri dish, with the possibility to apply new personalized therapeutic strategies.
The knowledge he acquired in CCM will be applied in his SINERGIA PhD project that he will carry on in the Cardiovascular System Mechanobiology research group of Professor Giancarlo Forte in FNUSA-ICRC, Brno.

Gabriele Addario studied Biomedical Engineering at Politecnico di Milano, Italy, pursuing his Master Degree with a specialization in biomechanics and biomaterials, in December 2019. During his Master Degree, he discovered his passion for regenerative medicine and biofabrication. In order to follow his interest for bioprinting, he moved to Maastricht, The Netherlands, to undertake his Master Internship at MERLN Institute, in the Complex Tissue Regeneration (CTR) group, chaired by Prof. Dr. Lorenzo Moroni. He worked on kidney biofabrication, testing a novel microfluidic bioprinter and screening possible biomaterial inks and bioinks, under the supervision of Dr. Carlos Mota.
In February 2020, he started working as PhD Candidate on the implementation of bioprinting techniques to produce an in vitro model, allowing the investigation of kidney fibrosis. Kidney fibrosis is considered the best predictor of the development of all chronic kidney diseases, considering more than 10% of the worldwide population suffers from impaired renal functions.

Riccardo Francescato is attending a Ph.D. program in Bioengineering (Politecnico di Milano, Italy) within the Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN program. He is engaging in a project focused on the set up of a mesoscale 3D in vitro model of human skeletal muscle fibrosis as an advanced tool for disease modeling and drug development. He is pursuing his activities at the Regenerative Medicine Technologies Laboratory at the Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale (Lugano, Switzerland). He graduated cum laude at University of Pavia (Italy) in 2020 in Experimental and Applied Biology, in the Molecular Biomedical Sciences course, with a thesis titled “Setting up of an Extracellular Matrix-based 3D model to study the mechanism of action of Extracellular Vesicles in muscle regeneration”.

Karol was born in 1991. He comes from Silesia, which is in the south of Poland. He began his career at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow as an undergraduate Biology student. He graduated from these studies in 2013. Later, fascinated by the topic of biomaterials and regenerative biology, he decided to go to the Uppsala University in Sweden. The exchange with Materials in Medicine Group was possible, thanks to the Erasmus Scholarship. In the period from 2014 to 2016, he took a master’s degree in Biomedicine at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. During this period, Karol was a member of the laboratory of prof. A. Russom. The subject of his master’s thesis was: “Digital Proximity Ligation Assay on DVD Platform”. After graduating, he worked, among others, at SciLifeLab / KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, the European Commission in Belgium and QIAGEN in Poland. Karol is currently a PhD Candidate in Bioengineering at Politecnico di Milano in the framework of MSCA-ITN SINERGIA project at MiMic Lab (Prof. Marco Rasponi Group). His research focuses on a multi-compartment microfluidic model to improve gut microbiome-mediated immunotherapy efficiency.

Helen hails from a small town in the heart of Ireland. She has a multidisciplinary background. She started her journey in scientific research and education at University College Dublin, Ireland, where she undertook a bachelor’s degree in general science, graduating with a joint major in pharmacology and physiology. She then moved to the UK, to work as an associate scientist at Charles River Laboratories. After some time there, she decided to take a career break to fulfil dreams of wanderlust, that eventually circled back to the world of science and academia. She completed a master’s degree in biomedical science at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where she became particularly interested in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Helen returned to industry to work as a research assistant at Evotec SE, Germany for a short period, however she was determined to continue working on developing advanced models of human physiology that could be translated to industry. This has led Helen to join the SINERGIA project (an Marie Skłodowska-Curie –  Innovative Training Network) as a PhD candidate at the MERLN institute, Maastricht, where she will focus on developing a kidney model for drug safety screening, using renal cells derived from iPSCs and advanced bioprinting technology.

Mr. Lozano has a master in Bioengineering at Ramon Llull University – IQS School of Engineering (Barcelona, Spain), and developed his master thesis on tissue engineering in the Harvard-MIT Biomedical Engineering Center (Edelman Lab) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, United States of America). Ferran delved into microfluidics and clotting diagnostics, working for two years at Atantares Corp., a biotech startup founded by MIT researchers and based in Cambridge, United States of America. Ferran Lozano Juan is the selected candidate for the ESR-7 SINERGIA project under H2020 MSCA-ITN framework. He is currently enrolled as a PhD candidate in Bioengineering in the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering at the Polytechnique University of Milan joining BiomimX. His fields of interests are medical diagnostics and entrepreneurship.

Elisa Cauli was born in 1989 in Muravera. She obtained the bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from “Università degli Studi di Cagliari” in April 2012, with a thesis aimed at developing an application for the photoplethysmogram (PPG) automatic time domain analysis in order to discover feasible cardiovascular diseases indicators. In April 2015, she received her master degree in Biomedical Engineering from “Politecnico di Milano”. During her master thesis she moved to Québec City (Canada) where she worked at “Laboratoire de Biomatériaux et Bioingénierie de l’Université Laval”. Her master’s thesis focused on the development of gas plasma treated and cross-linked gelatine coated PET electrospun prostheses for small calibre vessel replacement. Following her university studies, she worked in several pharmaceutical companies located in Italy, Austria and Switzerland. During her work experience, she specialized in medical device validation and biomedical quality requirements. Elisa is now a PhD student in Bioengineering at Politecnico di Milano and Accelera employee in the framework of MSCA-ITN SINERGIA project.

Hélia Fernandes is a Portuguese Bioengineer from Porto, where she completed an integrated MSc in the branch of Molecular Biotechnology. During her MSc, she performed a 5-month Erasmus+ Internship under the supervision of Dr. Angela Otto, at the Munich School of Bioengineering (Germany), studying the metabolism of two cancer cell lines. Her Master Dissertation work consisted in the development of two different strategies to prevent biomaterials-associated infections, using Antimicrobial Peptides as bactericidal substances. This work was performed under the supervision of Dr. Claúdia Monteiro and Dr. Cristina Martins, at i3s (Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Universidade do Porto). She was recently involved in a project aiming to harness the fetal liver potential to promote hematopoietic stem cell expansion, using this knowledge to develop a new strategy for in vitro expansion of adult murine bone-marrow and human embryonic stem cell-derived HSCs, also at i3S. Hélia is now a PhD student in Bioengineering at Politecnico di Milano in the framework of the MSCA-ITN  SINERGIA  project at MTTlab Srl.  Her work consists of the development and validation of an in vitro 3D liver model for efficacy and toxicity studies of new drug compounds.

The aim of my project is the development of a long-term ex vivo perfusion liver model based on slaughterhouse material to study the tissue response to drug exposure. The new model bridges the gap between in vitro and in vivo models as it maintains the functions and complexity of the organ. I will work in close collaboration with the SINERGIA consortium to validate the new platform, and additionally, to achieve my PhD at Politecnico di Milano. I have started my research track with a study in biotechnology (TU Berlin) and have previously gathered experience in alternative drug screening models by for example co-developing a 3D bioprinting platform.

Daniel Pereira-Sousa graduated in Biochemistry from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto in 2015. Then, he continued with his studies by joining the Integrated Masters in Bioengineering, from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto. During the thesis, he joined the Stem Cells in Regenerative Biology and Repair group at i3S/INEB (Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde/Instituto Nacional de Engenharia Biomédica) to how pericardial fluid from patients that suffered myocardial infarction could concentrate pro-fibrotic markers and influence cardiac fibroblast activation. This work progressed as he enrolled in a MSc Research Fellow with the objective of dissecting how cardiac fibroblast activation is influenced by extracellular vesicles isolated from pericardial fluid. Currently, he enrolled in SINERGIA project as an Early Stage Researcher with the objective of developing a patient-specific in vitro model of cardiac fibrosis for personalized anti-fibrotic drug screening in the Cardiovascular System Mechanobiology Group in FNUSA/ICRC (International Clinical Research Center of St. Anne’s University Hospital Brno).

I am Evrim Ceren Kabak, who is holding two master’s degrees, one in Biomedical Engineering (Ghent University) and one in Bioengineering with Tissue Engineering specialization (Trinity College Dublin). My master’s thesis in the Ahearne’s Lab (Ocular Bioengineering and Regeneration) at TCD was dealing with engineering a 3D tissue equivalent to investigate chemotactic behavior of corneal fibroblasts towards PDGF-BB, in which I increased my expertise mainly in biomaterial applications for tissue engineering and improved my data analysis, presentation and project management skills. Within the SINERGIA Project, I am working under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Ivan Martin in strong collaboration with Prof. Dr. Mohammed Bentires-Alj Lab. My project aims to engineer a perfusion-based 3D in vitro platform to investigate metastatic breast cancer interactions with the bone microenvironment. Throughout the project, a wide range of interdisciplinary approaches from molecular biology to engineering will be combined towards achieving this goal.

Anaïs Lamouline works as a Researcher at the Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale Lugano, Switzerland. She has a MSc in Tissue and Cell Engineering from University Jean-Monnet, Saint Etienne, France, as well as a MSc in Biological Engineering, from Polytech Marseille (College of Engineering), Aix-Marseille University, Marseille, France. Her research is focused on development of microfluidic device as a platform for studying metastatic breast cancers.

I am an aspiring and emergent Health Care professional with a Master’s degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences who is currently pursuing his PhD in Pathology, at Uniklinik Aachen, as part of Marie Curie ITN “Sinergia”. Since 2012, after 8 years of engagement in the field of pharmaceutical sciences, I can contend, I possess a strong background in drug design and development area, which I would like to expand further upon it and implement it for the sake of novel treatments discovery and of a more targeted and effective tackling of human diseases. My main aim through this journey in uncharted waters of science is to answer fundamental questions about life and discover hidden parts of a more fascinating story. I endorse, in my professional career, what Hippocrates refers in his writings “Make a habit of two things: to help; or at least to do no harm” as a main target of a health practitioner.
I am an eager person, with an appetite of challenges, who always loves to broaden his horizons. I consider myself as affable, easily adaptable to new environments with a practical approach to problem shooting and a true supporter of teamwork as a mind-set.

Rodrigo Torres Garcia comes from Tenerife, Spain. Rodrigo received his bachelor degree from the Technical University of Madrid, where he had the chance to learn basic knowledge on tissue engineering related subjects. He then got his Master Degree from the University of Barcelona, with a mixture of technical and entrepreneurship knowledge. Noteworthy, Rodrigo carried out his master thesis project as Master’s Degree ERASMUS student at the Biomedical/Medical Engineering Instituto Superior Técnico (Lisboa, Portugal) on the “design and test of a cardiac patch to treat infarcted hearts, composed of a synthetic elastomer able to withstand the contractile forces of the heart and a natural hydrogel (GelMA) to increase the biocompatibily and provide a suitable environment for cells”.