Welcome to the MEET Newsletter!
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The Project Manager's Column
Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas (Marie Skłodowska Curie)
Marie Curie Actions aim to increase and improve young European researchers’ soft skills, stimulating them to enter into the profession of researcher, strengthening, quantitatively and qualitatively, their human potential in research and technology. In order to respond to Marie Curie Actions challenges, the MEET project offered, to all trainees recruited within its Consortium, the most fertile training environment possible. Within the frame of the intense and multilevel MEET training program, MEET fellows launched a crowdfunding campaign called “MEETers run for IMP”
to collect money with the aim to aid the International Mito-Patients Network
(IMP is a network of national patient organizations involved in mitochondrial disease). This campaign will help IMP to develop a standard therapy to deal with muscular pain in mitochondrial diseases
. The MEETers drew a simple equation: mitochondria = energy = running, dancing, climbing and biking.
Therefore, as young and motivated researchers involved in the mitochondrial field, they run, dance, climb and bike to raise money. Indeed, all 14 fellows believe that participating in sport events is a very good way to highlight the relevance and the power of mitochondria, hence paralleling the importance of helping people with mitochondrial diseases. Through this campaign, the MEETers intended, once again, to stress the importance of disseminating research activities using a new communication approach based on patient-centered care. Indeed, the campaign’s main goal is to raise awareness about mitochondrial diseases and to give voice to patients’ representatives. The MEET Project embraced IMP cause, believing that the only way to improve the quality of life of mitochondrial patients is to increase communication among patients, researchers, clinicians and caretakers. As MEET Project Manager, I am very proud “my” young fellows represent the next generation of scientists!
Serena Paterlini, MEET Project Manager, UNIBO, Dept. of Medical and Surgical Sciences (DIMEC), University of Bologna (Italy)
European opportunities: Marie Skłodowska Curie fellows meet high school students
MEETers Michele Giunta and Manar Aoun organized at the “G. Cantoni” high school (Treviglio – Italy) a bilingual course (English/Italian) on biomedical research addressed to students in order to promote science and to improve the students’ attitude towards science. Michele and Manar’s aim was to demonstrate how science offers many professional, multidisciplinary opportunities, trying to raise curiosity especially in those students next to the University enrollment. It was for this reason that Michele contacted his former science teacher Claudia Tondolo, and proposed her to organize a technical course, inviting as speakers Rebecca Brennan and Juliane Mueller, two colleagues from the Human Genetics Institute of Newcastle University (UK), the hosting lab where Michele is concluding his PhD program. In addition to the technical workshop, Michele and Manar also organized a meeting with 36 students in order to present the MEET project, underlying the importance of making comprehensible to citizens the theoretical and practical work carried out in laboratories and research centers. Manar and Michele, starting from talking about their personal career experiences and their professional paths, used dissemination as a pivotal tool to expand the frontiers of knowledge, as fuel for a virtuous circle which allows researchers to reach society and citizens to reap the rewards, in cultural terms, of the society investments in research. The main MEET project goal is to offer to fellows a multisector and multidisciplinary training path in the field of mitochondrial medicine, with a particular attention to develop soft skills, among which management and communication. All MEET fellows acquired competencies and expertise in organizing dissemination events addressed to the public in a fun and interactive way, hencegiving people the chance to meet researchers and to discover places not generally open to the public (laboratories, research units, museum collections, etc.).
The MEET Coordination team
MEET & A.M.Mi. together to support Mito-patients awareness
My name is Emma Del-Rey
and I am mom of Karen, a 12 year-old child with a mitochondrial disease, but I also represent A.M.Mi.
, the French national mito-patients’ organization, member of the IMP International Network. I attended in January 2016, the Symposium “From bench to bedside and back: Patients MEET Researchers”
organized in Nijmegen (the Netherlands) within the frame of the ITN MARIE CURIE MEET Project. I found amazing and highly useful to put at the center of the discussion patients and their families. Organizing a cultural and scientific exchange among families, patients, researchers and clinicians, has been extremely interesting and it is an important mean to give voice to patients. I met in Nijmegen Sarah
, two French MEET fellows, and they informed me about the crowdfunding campaign launched to support IMP, and of their participation in the Paris Semi-Marathon
. After having talked to them, I said to myself: «I have to support these guys», and I did it! On March 31- April 2, 2016 A.M.Mi. hosted Renaud and Sarah at the booth at the Salon du Running 2016
in Paris. Renaud, Sarah, Brigittes, Maria and Carine introduced to the general public the raising awareness about mitochondrial diseases and invited people to join the fundraising campaign “MEETers run for IMP”! I coordinated this event, in the best possible way, and during those three days, Renaud and Sarah were there, with A.M.Mi. Volunteers, talking about mitochondrial diseases in a non-scientific context! They were there with Elise and Mathieu and their children, David, Carine and Maria. A wider and multilevel communication is the only way to fight prejudices and allow patients to feel part of the decision-making process about their own care.
Thank you MEETers!
Collaboration among researchers, clinicians and patients is the only way to work
Emma Del-Rey, Association contre les Maladies Mitochondriales (A.M.Mi.) International Mito-Patients (IMP) Network Secretary.
Wings for Life World Run 2016: Sarah Foriel, a special runner for 1 day
If one day someone had told me that I would have ran and taken part to a race, I would have laughed out loud. Of course, this was before January 2016, before being directly involved in the MEET Symposium
organization and before the launch of the crowdfunding campaign “MEETers run for IMP
”. Since January, I stayed in touch with Emma, strong mom of Karen, a mito-patient, and representative of the French mito-patient association A.M.Mi., with whom Renaud and I took part at the Salon du Running 2016. Ever since, my wish to help, to run, to feel useful
and to fight against mitochondrial diseases kept growing. I am a baby runner
but I want to contribute to disseminate the “mito-awareness” because we have energy and most of us are not using it, while other people would love to be able to run… So I definitely want to run for those who cannot. I heard for the first time talking about the Wings for Life World Run
when Blaine Penny
contacted the MEETers through the MEET project Facebook page, inviting us to attend it in Breda (the Netherlands)
. Blaine and Sarah are parents of two amazing kids: Evan, a mito-patient, and Julia. Blaine ran, and runs, for Evan and to disseminate Mito awareness. Since Breda is not far from Nijmegen, it did not take long for me to register. It was an astonishing experience! This run format is quite unusual: all the registration fees are donated to the research on spinal cord injuries. Everyone, worldwide, on the same day, at the same time, will run ideally together! The Catcher Cars, vehicles equipped with sensors, were introduced to catch the runners not running towards, but away from the finish line chasing them.
During the run, precious friends surrounded me and I met a modern time inspiring superhero Blaine that deserves to be known! I am very proud to run with the MEET T-shirt and to contribute to the Mito awareness. I am also very grateful to all wonderful people met during these experiences.
Thank you to the MEET project, to Emma, to the A.M.Mi. Association and to Blaine.
Go, Mito Team!
Sarah Foriel, MEET fellow, Khondrion, Research and Development, Nijmegen (the Netherlands)
The mentoring experience as an awesome way of learning
Thanks from Umut Cagin's Supervisor
Supervising Umut within the ITN-MEET project was a positive and unique experience. The MEET project was created to inspire young scientists, allowing them to gain experience working in the field of mitochondrial diseases. Thanks to the project, Umut has not only invested on his research experience but he also further developed soft and critical skills. Networking and mobility were two of the most pronounced and beneficial features of the ITN-MEET. Mitochondrial medicine needs a young generation of oustanding researchers and thanks to MEET, the Consortium had the chance to train 14 fellows coming from all over the world. Umut is going to be a promising researcher with some new innovative ideas. We both have been very adaptive to the dynamic nature of the project and we have relied on technology to communicate while we travelled much. It has been a pleasure to support and to contribute to the scientific development of a young and ambitious researcher as Umut. Being an ITN mentor has been an important and beautiful experience and I want also to thank all the other fellows recruited within the Consortium, because they put patients at the centre of their activities.
Thank you, Umut!
Professor José Antonio Enriquez, MEET project Supervisor, Fundación Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares “Carlos III” (CNIC), Madrid (Spain)
Manar Aoun’s MEET contract expired on December 2015. We want to thank her for having been so proactive and engaged in the project development.
“Life is not easy for any of us. However, what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained” Marie Skłodowska Curie
Thank you Manar.
The MEET Coordination Team
Me & the ITN-MEET project:
A great accomplishment shouldn't be the end of the road, just the starting point for the next leap forward (Harvey Mackay)
After completing my PhD studies in France, I started looking for new challenges and I wanted to discover new approaches to carry out research in Europe and extend my network in the field. ITN Marie-Curie Action was tailored to my needs and the MEET consortium allows to carry out projects in the most prestigious European research institutions in the mitochondrial field. I think it is important for researchers to have an experience in different countries, as each of them has a different research culture. Moreover, the importance of Marie Curie Actions in promoting excellence across Europe and the attractive financial conditions, motivated my submission to the “Carlo Besta” Institute for Neurological Diseases (Milan, Italy) vacancy. MEET gave me the opportunity to acquire additional significant experiences in the mitochondrial field, thanks to secondments (to the Spanish National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) in Madrid, in collaboration with Professor José Antonio Enriquez, and to the German Institute of Human Genetics in the Helmholtz Zentrum in Münich, in collaboration with Dr. Holger Prokisch) and technical workshops organized within the Consortium. During this two-year experience, I learnt new technical and scientific skills in the field of mitochondria and lipid metabolism. I also became involved in interesting pre-clinical and clinical side-projects, establishing new collaborations. Since the grant covered all expenses connected to my training, it enabled me to attend key international conferences, to communicate on my work and to interact with renown scientists. Thus, the large network of international collaborations I built thanks to this experience may definitely enhance my professional aspirations. I also participated actively in fundraising and scientific dissemination activities to promote research to the large audience. This is what innovation is about: bringing great complex ideas to the general public. Exactly what Marie Curie Actions are about! For example, I participated in the campaign “Science: it’s a girl thing!”
organized by the European Commission at the “Science with and for Society”
stand within the EUCYS 2015 and EXPO2015 events, where I had to transmit a passion for science to the next generation of young students. I also participated actively, in collaboration with other fellows, to the organization of the MEET Symposium in Nijmegen (the Netherlands). This Symposium was focused on the most up-to-date knowledge advances regarding mitochondrial medicine, where international Mito-Patients were the true protagonists of the whole event. This experience was a successful training for us, in order to improve teamwork, to enrich communication and to learn how to organize such a big event, dealing with partners based in distant countries and different ways of thinking. Not only did the Marie Curie ITN program broaden my career perspectives, it also equipped me with other skills such as management, writing applications and discovering the market services and needs. These are not always covered during doctoral and post-doctoral canonical training even if these items are essential in today’s economy where new ideas are required to be close to the society needs. For this reason, I would like to congratulate with the MEET Consortium coordinator, Dr. Giuseppe Gasparre, and the project manager, Mrs. Serena Paterlini, for organizing stimulating professional workshops for the fellows, thus enriching our soft skills. Thanks to their efforts I received a multidisciplinary training combining biomedical research with science communication and management tools and thereby an exceptional opportunity to attain professional maturity. Today, this programme has already taught me many things, not only related to science, but also to people and cultures. For instance, the mobility dimension of the program allowed me to improve my knowledge of foreign languages, such as English, and to become fluent in Italian. I was also meeting frequently new people with different cultures, customs and way of thinking. Dealing continuously with such challenging situations in stimulating environments pushed me to pursue my personal development, as an essential component to success.
Thanks to Marie Curie Actions and motivated researchers: Mito-Patients could have a treatment available sooner than expected!
A few words about Manar
MEET was a definitely challenging project: a very important experience for our young researchers but for Supervisors too. The way MEET was conceived and organized gave researchers a high-level training and the opportunity to create a network of people sharing experiences, goals and results and, above all, the understanding of how important a good network can be in our job. I think Manar managed to get the best from these two-year training: she worked hard, with passion and enthusiasm. She was curious and highly committed. She enriched her competences and I think she got something important from a personal and human point of view as well. She perfectly managed to get on well with the other people at our laboratory, she was polite and sociable and became integrated very quickly. I think her personal skills and abilities helped her and will help her in the future to accommodate to new working environments, facing the challenges her career will offer her.
Valeria Tiranti, MEET project Supervisor, IRCCS Foundation Neurological Institute “C. Besta”, Division of Molecular Neurogenetics, Milan (Italy)
Oleksandr “Sasha” Lytovchenko’s MEET contract expired on May 2016. We want to thank him for having been so proactive and engaged in the project development.
Thank you Sasha
The MEET Coordination team
Personal and professional experience within the MEET project
I am very grateful to the MEET team and all the MEETers for the great experiences during these two years, during which I was part of the MEET family. This has been a time of intense learning. On a professional level, I have learned a lot about the mitochondrial biology from the method courses, workshops and conferences. The Euromit meeting in Finland was held just a few weeks after I joined the MEET and made a great “hot start” for the project. After that there were numerous other conferences, workshops, method courses, meetings and winter schools, which not only contributed to our training, but also made it unforgettable. Thinking about these years, I can recapitulate some highlights that made the entire MEET experience very emotional and personal. White nights in Tampere, where we the MEETers met for the first time… Beautiful Bologna, with the oldest European university, where I spent a few months for my secondment and got to know many great people… Foggy Bertinoro, having its romantic medieval atmosphere… Sunny Valencia in the miraculously charming Spain… A charity race in marvelous Rome, supporting cancer research… Great science literally at a sky level, among clouds somewhere in the mountains in Czech republic… Very emotional, touchy stories of real mitochondrial patients, which we heard during the conference in the Netherlands… The most important for me, however, has been the communication, both on the professional and personal level. One of the remarkable features of MEET is the extent of international collaboration and cooperation. My work would not be possible without contribution from the University of Bologna, and I would myself be very glad to provide all possible support to everyone from the consortium. We were not only networking with the great scientists, we established true friendships across the borders, which, I hope, will last long time after the completion of the project.
A few words about Sasha
It has been a great pleasure to have Oleksandr Lytovchenko (Sasha) in the lab and we are grateful to the ITN Marie Curie MEET project for funding his project. Sasha is a very competent and independent scientist, and he works very hard and efficiently. He has introduced many cell biology techniques in our lab, which has advanced the projects of other lab members. He has also taught us the techniques he has learned as part of the MEET programme, such as the use of the Seahorse, for which we are very grateful to him. He was working on two challenging problems; (i) to define the changes in mitochondrial transport when cells become cancerous, and (ii) to identify the glutamine transport protein of mitochondria. He has applied a huge number of different techniques to move these projects forward. We expect that two interesting papers will come forth out of this work. Sasha has accepted a post-doc position in the lab of Nils-Göran Larsson in the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. He has all of talents required to go on to an independent career in science and we wish him all the best for the future.
Edmund Kunji, MEET project Supervisor, MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit, Wellcome Trust / MRC Building, Cambridge (United Kingdom)
NEWS FROM THE CONSORTIUM
BIKE PRIDE 2016 | Bologna (Italy) - May 8, 2016
On Sunday May 8th, the MEET fellows participated in the Bike Pride 2016
in Bologna (Italy). The MEET supporters crew rode almost 10 km around the city to disseminate the crowdfunding campaign “MEETers run for IMP
”. The MEET project also had a “booth” to hand out the MEET children’s coloring science booklet together with other MEET gadgets.
EBEC 2016 | Riva del Garda (Italy) - July 2-7, 2016
The 19th European Bioenergetics Conference (EBEC)
will take place in Riva del Garda (Italy) on July 2-7, 2016. The MEET project will have a booth and all MEET Marie Curie fellows will attend this event. For further info visit the EBEC website
WHO IS WHO
Alma Mater Studiorum, Università di Bologna - UNIBO
Dipartimento Scienze Mediche e Chirurgiche (DIMEC)
Coordinator: Giuseppe Gasparre
Dipartimento Farmacia e Biotecnologie (FABIT)
Supervisors: Anna Maria Porcelli - Michela Rugolo
Dipartimento Scienze Biomediche e Neuromotorie (DIBINEM)
Supervisor: Valerio Carelli
Gemeinnutzige Salzburger Landeskliniken Betriebsgesellschaft - SALK
Supervisors: Barbara Kofler - Johannes A. Mayr