Fellows of NABBA project:

ESR-1: Rana Edwards, UNIMIB

ESR -2: Alysia Cox, UNIMIB

ESR-3: Daniele Vinciguerra, CNRS

ESR-4: Giampiero Lazzari, CNRS

ESR-5: Tarun Ojha, UU

ESR-6: Andrea Gonella, USC

ESR-7: Ho Duy Khiet, HZI

ESR-8: Rany Rotem, UNIMIB


ESR-10: Josu Andrieu, UNIMIB

ESR-11: Sofia Mendes Saraiva, USC

ESR-12: Carlos Victor Montefusco Pereira, HZI

ESR-13: Sofia Bisso, ETH ZURICH (Not Funded by EU)

Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions

ESR-1: Rana Edwards received her Bachelor’s Degree  in Pharmacology with Honors (Cum Laude)  at Stony Brook University (New York, USA) followed by her Master’s Degree (Cum Laude)in Medicinal Chemistry at St. John’s University (New York, USA). Her thesis was a collaboration between the chemistry, biochemistry, and pathology departments, conducted in Prof. Sanford Simon’s laboratory, to identify products with inhibitory activities of enzymes implicated  in mechanisms of inflammation and tumor invasiveness. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor society and is the recipient of multiple awards such as the URECA research scholarship and the Belle Award and Scholarship for Academic Excellence.Recently she joined the NABBA network and has been awarded a Marie Skolodowska-Curie actions PhD fellowship under the supervision of Prof. Francesco Nicotra at the Università degli studi di Milano – Bicocca.

Research Focus:Synthesizing and studing nanoparticles rationally designed to overcome biological barriers with the goal of optimizing targeted delivery of drugs and effectively treating tumors, neurodegenerative diseases, cystic fibrosis and lung diseases.  

ESR-2: Alycia Cox completed a BSc (Hons) in Human Health and Disease in Trinity College Dublin in 2013, part of the first class to graduate from the physiology and biochemistry based degree. Her thesis was entitled 'The effect of exercise on lipopolysaccharide-induced neuroinflammation and cognitive deficits in the rat'. She graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 2015 with an MSc by research in pharmacology, funded by Lee Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Hong Kong. It was titled 'The development of a flow cytometry-based assay for a novel GPIb antagonist and characterisation of the drug'. She trained researchers in the newly optimised technique and the assay is currently being used in phase Ib/IIa clinical trials of anfibatide in Beijing. She presented my research at the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) 2015 congress in Toronto, Canada. Other research placements include the study of a shear flow system to be used in evaluating platelet activation in malaria in St. James' Hospital Dublin, and an extensive study on the interaction of 15 strains of Escherichia coli with platelets from healthy donors (2010-2011). She presented my data at the ISTH 2011 congress in Kyoto, Japan. She currently enrolled in the PhD program at UNIMIB under the direction of Prof Massimo Masserini.

Research focus:Design and synthesis of nanoparticles that target the brain, and evaluation of their ability to cross the blood brain barrier (BBB) in vitro. Selection of ligands from a peptide phage library (Enviroinvest, Hungary) and evaluation in vitro. Synthesis of nanoparticles that can deliver specific drugs or diagnostic probes to diseased brain (UPS, Paris. Testing of functionalised nanoparticles on mouse models of Alzheimers Disease (Nerviano Medical Sciences, Milan).

ESR-3: Daniele Vinciguerra obtained his Master Degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology in November 2014 from the University of Turin (Italy). After a few month internship in the research group of Prof. Cristina Prandi (Department of Chemistry, University of Turin, Italy) to improve his skills in small molecule organic chemistry, developed during his Master Thesis, he was then awarded with a Marie Skolodowska-Curie actions PhD fellowship from the Marie Curie ITN European NABBA project, under the supervision of Dr. Julien Nicolas and Prof. Patrick Couvreur (Institut Galien Paris-Sud, UMR CNRS 8612, Université Paris-Sud, Faculté de Pharmacie, Châtenay-Malabry, France).

Research focus:Biological evaluation of dual-functionalized degradable polymer prodrug nanoparticles for anticancer applications.

ESR-4: Gianpiero Lazzari has been awarded his bachelor degree in Biotechnology in 2012 and then he started his master degree in Nanobiotechnology at the University of Salento (Lecce, Italy). He did his undergraduate internship under the supervision of Pr. Rosaria Rinaldi in the CNR-National Nanotechnology Laboratory of Lecce (Italy) working on the synthesis and characterization of layer-by-layer microcapsules for drug delivery purposes. In the meanwhile he co-founded and leaded a no-profit association called “BioBANG”, which is involved in scientific divulgation. In 2013 he joined a team of undergraduate students interested in synthetic biology, which was awarded the silver medal at the “iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition” (organized every year by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)) for the design of a nickel sensing device based on a set of genetic parts from the pathogen Helicobacter pylori. He graduated in April 2015 and then he joined the group of Pr. Patrick Couvreur (Institut Galien Paris-Sud, UMR CNRS 8612) at University Paris-Sud (Châtenay-Malabry, France) as Early Stage Researcher (ESR/PhD) in the framework of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie, Innovative Training Networks project  NABBA.

Research focus: Development of relevant in vitro 3D and in vivo models of pancreatic cancer for preclinical evaluation of nanomedicines.

ESR-5: Tarun Ojha did his bachelor's in Microbiology from Fergusson College (Pune, India). He did dual degree master course in Nanotechnology and Nanoscience from Amity University (Noida, India). For his master dissertation, he joined Prof. Dr. Justin Hanes's research group at Center for Nanomedicines, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, USA). His master thesis was focused on developing chemo drug load mucus penetrating biodegradable nanoparticles for treating lung and cervix cancer. After his master's, he worked in Prof. Dr. Twan Lammers's  research group (Nanomedicines and Theranostics) at the institute for Experimental Molecular Imaging (ExMI), RWTH University Hospital Aachen (Aachen, Germany). During his twelve months of work tenure at ExMI, he worked on vascular normalization strategy for enhancing drug delivery in solid tumors and gained experience on several imaging modalities like Computed Tomography (CT), Fluorescence Molecular Tomography (FMT) and Ultrasound. He recently joined the research group of Prof. Dr. Gert Storm at department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University (Utrecht, Netherlands) as a PhD student.

Research focus:Developing microbubbles to locally open blood brain barrier by using ultrasound.

ESR-6: Andrea Gonella received his Bachelor in Biotechnology (cum laude) from Università Degli Studi di Milano – Bicocca on September 2012. After spent the last year of Master in Sweden to complete his studies (experimental project at Bioprocess Control), on November 2014 he received his Master in Industrial Biotechnology, with a thesis related to the mathematical modelling of Anaerobic Digestion processes. Then, he decided to approach to the field of Nanobiotechnology, working as a volunteer both at the Università Degli Studi Di Milano and Università Degli Studi Di Milano – Bicocca. During this period he developed abilities related to synthesis, chemical modification and stealth properties of nanoparticles. After a brief working period to an Italian company, he decided to apply for a PhD position within the NABBA network (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action). From September 2015 he is part of the research group of Maria José Alonso at USC, in order to develop the NABBA project topic.

Research focus: Development of a biomaterial based nanocarrier able to deliver a macromolecular drug selectively withintumors.

ESR-7: Ho Duy Khiet holds the Bachelor degree of Engineering in Materials Technology (2011), specialization in Polymeric Materials, Viet Nam National University Ho Chi Minh City, University of Technology (Viet Nam). He was then offered Seoul National University Global Scholarship He, and got funding by ASAN Foundation Scholarship for Master study (03.2013-03.2015) in Seoul National University, South Korea. In his master project, He designed and synthesized new liquid embolic materials with controllable solidification rate and CT/X-ray responsive properties. Besides, Hehad co-worked with other lab members onother topics in which Hemainly focused on organic and polymeric synthesis as well as particles preparation with targeting properties.After master graduation, he was offered Research Associate position in Research Institute of Advanced Materials, Seoul National University, South Korea, on projects of synthesis of dendrimer used as multimodal agents in bio-applications, and aggregation/assembly of nano-particles to prolong blood circulation half-life for multimodal nano-carriers.He would like to become an expert in the field of biomaterials; particularly, He is fascinated by projects of design and fabrication of multifunctional nano-sized carriers used for bio-applications such as drug targeting delivery, diseases diagnosis and therapy, as well as medical devices. Therefore, he would like to work and study in environment of integration of multidisciplinary sciences and technologies so that he could improve his research potential. Those are reasons that obtaining a PhD degree in Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), Helmholtz Center for Infection Research (HZI) and Saarland University would help me achieve professionallyinnovated knowledge and skills, which is the key step in his career.

Research focus: Nano-Biomaterials, Organic & Polymer Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Research. Development of multifunctional nanoparticles based on carbohydrate polymers derivatives, such as Chitosan, starch and dextran, to overcome biological barriers and deliver anti-infectives into target sites, as well as testing potential of drug delivery by generating in-vitro experiments with developed biofilm (which would be done under cooperation with other colleagues in HIPS).

ESR-8: Rany Rotem, Master of Chemistry graduate from the Hebrew University at 2013 and completed aBachelor of Chemistry and Biology at 2011. In his Masters he worked with bio applications of colloidal nano-crystals, notably with CdSe/CdS seeded rods nano-crystals and the enzyme Acetylcholinesterase.

Research focus: Concentrating on design, synthesis, functionalization and characterization of nano particles, with the aim to implement them in medical applications biological barrier crossing.



ESR-10: Josu Andrieu studied a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology followed by a master’s degree in Environmental Contamination and Toxicology at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). More than the bachelor’s degree, his time as a visiting student in the Biophysics Unit (UPV/EHU-CSIC) was what really got me into research. The long hours staring at fluorescent cells and gathering often confusing (and frustrating) data showed his what was science about, and somehow motivated him to pursue a scientific career, which He has the opportunity to continue now in Eviroinvest Corp. as a fellow of the NABBA project. The master’s degree turned his interests towards gene regulation, especially concerning the effect of external cues, so his master thesys focused on the quantification of transcription levels of key genes in fish affected by pollution. And he intend to continue doing research on that field, getting into the assessment of nanoparticle toxicology via transcriptomics, using bioinformatic approaches for data treatment. Nevertheless, He is currently involved in the study of bacteriophages too, as another aim of the project is to functionalize nanoparticles using phage display to reveal suitable oligopeptides that would confer specificity towards a given biological barrier. This will be achieved by selecting oligopeptides specifically binding cells of biological barriers as well as nanoparticles.

Research focus: Assessment of nanoparticle toxicology via transcriptomics, using bioinformatic approaches for data treatment.  

ESR-11: Sofia Mendes Saraiva received her Master’s degree (2014) in Biochemistry from the University of Beira Interior (Portugal). Her master’s project was focused on the development of photocrosslinkable hydrogels aimed for tissue engineering, under the supervision of Professor Ilídio Correia. After graduation she worked as a researcher at University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (Portugal), under the supervision of Professor Paulo Coelho, synthesizing and characterizing new photochromic compounds. Recently she was awarded with a Marie Skolodowska-Curie actions PhD fellowship, in the framework of the NABBA project, under the supervision of Professor Maria Jose Alonso (NanoBioFar Group, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain).

Research focus: Developing new nanocarriers for the delivery of nuncleic acid-based drugs to the cornea and conjunctiva.

ESR-12: Carlos Victor Montefusco Pereira has a bachelor in Pharmacy and Biochemistry at the Universidade Paulista, in Manaus, from 2005-2010, with final work using drug potential knowledge from an endemic passion fruit species from the Amazon, with the title "Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hypoglycemic effects of the leaf extract of Passiflora nitida Kunth”. After having the experience as pharmacist, he got interested in also how plant derivatives can not only be a therapy, but also a drug in the sense of addiction. For that, he joined the master of science on Forensic Sciences from the University of Lincoln, United Kingdom, with the final dissertation as "Assessment of neuronal cytotoxicity of JWH-073 and JWH-250". Being a pharmacist meant being integrated to the industry and that was what it was missing for him. He started to address the issue by working as an intern, then after as consultant, at the Prequalification Team of Essential Medicines, Vaccines and Diagnostics of the World Health Organization, in Geneva, Switzerland. The prospect of development of drugs and diagnostics made him more interested in a connection of representative cell culture models to the in vivo scenario. Currently, he wants to increase the understanding of the lung as a biological barrier at the Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), at the Universität des Saarlandes (Saarbrücken, Germany).

Research focus: Establishing a disease relevant in vitro model of the airway, comprising mostly bronchiolar epithelium and immune cells, infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Such a model may allow studying the outcome of NPs with epithelial barrier, immune cells, mucus and bacteria, allowing us to better predict the effects of new formulations and/or compounds in infected airways.

ESR-13: Sofia Bisso received her Master’s degree in “Chemistry and Pharmaceutical technology” from the University of Padua, Italy, in December 2014. She conducted research work for her Master’s thesis at the Division of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Finland, dealing with the characterization of pH sensitive gold nanoparticles for anticancer drug delivery, by means of Surface Plasmon Resonance. In June 2015 she did an internship at McGill University, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Montreal, Canada, where she worked on the synthesis of coating agents for calcium phosphate functionalization.In September 2015 she joined the Drug Formulation and Delivery group at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, as a doctoral student, in the framework of the NABBA program. Her main research interest is the preparation and characterization of silica nanocarriers for the dual delivery of bisphosphonates and genes to cancer cells.

Research focus: Silica nanocarriers for the dual delivery of bisphosphonates and genes to cancer cells.



This project has received funding from the European Union’s HORIZON 2020 Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no. 642028 H2020-MSCA-ITN-2014