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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 860462.

Meet our scientists

ESR 1 - Politecnico di Torino

Mari Lallukka

BIO
Mari Lallukka is a PhD student of Materials Science and Technology at Politecnico di Torino, in Northern Italy. Her thesis work focuses on metallic and ceramic biomaterials in the context of musculoskeletal regeneration, and it is a part of the ITN PREMUROSA Project.
Project Aim
The ESR1 research project titled “Materiomics Analysis of Metallic and Ceramic Materials for Musculoskeletal Regeneration”, supervised by Professor Enrica Verné, aims to analyze the links between the physicochemical properties of the biomaterials and cells and tissues functionality, specifically regarding chemistry, surface morphology and porosity. In relation to other ESR projects, this project aims to produce reference materials for the development of innovative in vitro and in silico models for personalized musculoskeletal regeneration applications.
Expected results
The core objective of the research project ESR1 is to deepen the knowledge of the main properties and characteristics of novel ceramic and metallic biomaterials and to come up with optimized procedures and protocols to produce biomaterials for musculoskeletal applications.
Impacts
With the continuously increasing global burden of musculoskeletal disorders there is an unmet need for more effective treatment options. Instead of conventional “one size fits all” solutions, this project with other ESR: s will focus on designing innovative medical devices and optimized clinical applications based on each patient’s individual characteristics.

ESR 2 - Riga Technical University

Ilijana Kovrlija

BIO
I obtained my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biochemical engineering and Biotechnology at the University of Belgrade, Serbia. The focus of my research has continued in the area of biomaterials and their utilization in bone tissue engineering. Firm believer in café culture, followed by strong interests in tv shows, history, travel, food, museums.
Project Aim
Generation of personalized drug delivery systems for incorporation within biomaterials for bone tissue regeneration, including two levels of personalization perceived from the stance of biomaterial composition and drug delivery personalization.
Expected results
Development of a novel composite hydrogel for bone tissue regeneration, based on calcium phosphates, biodegradable polymers, and biologically active substances, simultaneously ensuring antimicrobial effect, promoted bone regeneration as well as blood vessel and nerve tissue formation throughout the implant material.
Impacts
Followed by the main principle of PREMUROSA – to take care with care – the project reflects one of the major burdens individuals all around the world have, musculoskeletal diseases. A personalized approach my PhD project is entitled with, gives an insuperable importance to the tailored patient-specific multi-functional smart biomaterials, which will ensure the appropriateness of the implanted device and overall satisfying regeneration response. The complexity of the conjoined effort and work done by the 13 ESRs in PREMUROSA ITN network will provide an inter-sectoral combination of academic, industrial, and clinical experience in this open-minded field, thus improving the entire personalized clinical approach.

ESR 3 - Tampere University

Virginia Alessandra Gobbo

BIO
Virginia Alessandra Gobbo studied Biomedical Engineering at Politecnico di Torino (Italy), where, in March 2020, she graduated with honors. Now she is part of PREMUROSA project as a PhD researcher, studying protein adsorption on bioactive glasses at Tampere University (Finland).
Project Aim
Bioactive glasses are a very promising class of biomaterials for musculoskeletal applications. Indeed, their compositions/properties can be tailored to add therapeutic value. However, while the cells/materials interaction have been deeply investigated, little is known on the adsorption of proteins at the surface of these biomaterials. During this project four different bone extracellular-matrix proteins are adsorbed on four different glass compositions. Each glass composition will be surface-treated to understand the relationship between physico-chemical properties and topography, on protein adsorption and conformation. The glasses surfaces will be analyzed through FTIR spectroscopy, XPS, zeta potential titration curves, contact angle analysis, AFM, SEM/EDX, ICP-OES spectrometry and their biological response is studied through in vitro cell tests.
Expected results
The protein dynamics is analyzed to understand the correlation between the composition of the bioactive glass and various types of proteins. This could lead to selective adsorption of protein and a control over the cell fate. The behavior of the functionalized materials is studied also as part of a potential future implant for clinical application in the orthopedic field.
Impacts
The proposal of a new bioactive and biomimetic material for musculoskeletal applications can lead to a significant improvement in cancer, trauma, bone defects and osteoporosis treatments, improving the life quality of patients, limiting post-surgical complications and decreasing sanitary costs.

ESR 4 - University of Belgrade, Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy

Ivana Banicevic

BIO
I am Ivana Banicevic, coming from Montenegro where I've earned Bachelor and Master degrees in Chemical Engineering at the Faculty of Metallurgy and Technology, University of Montenegro. I've like chemical engineering since it is multidisciplinary, combining knowledge of natural sciences and engineering principles, which helped me to build strong foundation as well as curiosity for scientific research. Currently, I am a PhD student at the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy, University of Belgrade and I am happy to be a member of the Premurosa team.
Project Aim
The aim of my project is to create a bioactive cell niche by using novel composite biomaterials in conjunction with biomimetic bioreactors so to imitate the physiological environment in bone and provide a 3D model for physiologically relevant studies of in vitro bone regeneration as well as of bone cancer development.
Expected results
Composite scaffolds based on alginate hydrogels with incorporated hydroxyapatite (HAp) precursors will create a biostimulative cell microenvironment by releasing bioactive ions and HAp accumulation, while the optimized medium flowrate in perfusion bioreactors will provide suitable hydrodynamic shear stresses and efficient supply of biochemical signals to immobilized cells. By tuning the biomaterial properties, we expect to create bioactive settings for (i) osteogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells and (ii) osteosarcoma development and progression.
Impacts
We strongly believe that our research will help to create reliable 3D cell/tissue culture models with impacts in the treatment of bone defects by tissue engineered equivalents as well as in development of personalized cancer therapies.

ESR 5 - Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli

Ksenia Menshikh

BIO
I was educated in bioengineering in Russia at Moscow State University. Throughout my bachelor's and master's degrees, my scientific research was related to the development of biomaterials and the use of three-dimensional cell cultures for the needs of modern medicine. My current PhD project will serve as a link and dedicated to smart personalized degradable biomaterials for bone tissue regeneration.
Project Aim
To create and assess advanced 3D in vitro models simulating the cellular and tissue microenvironment during the development of particular pathologies of the musculoskeletal system.
Expected results
The development 3D in vitro models, consisting of human cells and tissues, suitable for “mechanistic” studies necessary for the understanding of mechanisms of action, toxicity and dose-effect of therapeutic innovative treatments.
Impacts
This project aims to deepen knowledge of the clinical problems in regeneration of bone and cartilage and of orthopedic reconstructive surgery fields. The use of advanced 3D models is also necessary for reducing the number of animals used for experimental purposes.

ESR 6 - AO Research Institute Davos

Nicola Di Marzio

BIO
Originally from Matera, Italy, he received his Marster’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Polytechnique University of Turin, Italy. He developed his master thesis project at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, Houston, Texas, US. Within his project he could acquire experience in nanomedicine and drug delivery systems working with gold nanoparticle for cancer treatment and polymeric particle for sustained drug release. His scientific interests are directed towards biofabrication and organ-on-a-chip applications. As in science also in life he likes to be creative and searching for challenges. Sports, cooking, and outdoor life complete his interests. He currently accepted the challenge to move from the warm south of Italy to the snowy swiss Alps where he will carry on his PhD.
Project Aim
Development of in vitro 3D organoid models able to study patient specific tissue behavior for potential novel treatment and/or implementation in regulatory process.
Expected results
Mastering additive manufacturing technologies as bioprinting and 3D-SIM for the generation of 3D organoid models. Development, fabrication, and characterization of the needed bioinks. Production of perfusable tubular, vascular structures within the 3D organoid models. Establishment of 3D organoid models’ functionality in term of ability to read-out "drugs response".
Impacts
The project find its novelty in the possibility to create 3D cultures made from single-patient cells for musculoskeletal regeneration applications, with special focus on angiogenesis, which is not a currently available solution. The test of treatment effectiveness would then be possible, shortening the gap towards personalize medicine.

ESR 7 - Instituto de Engenheria Biomedica, Porto

Emine Kahraman

BIO
I have completed my bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering at Izmir Katip Celebi University, Turkey. In my undergraduate, I mastered solid phase peptide synthesis and their functional characterization and their application in hydrogel-based 3D cell culture settings.  I also experienced to prepare and conduct an independent undergraduate project funded by national scientific and technological council. Additionally, I performed an Erasmus internship in SCK.CEN Belgian Nuclear Research Centre in Belgium. Later, I was a graduate student in the Therapeutic Bioengineering laboratory at Izmir Biomedicine and Genome Center, Turkey. My master thesis focused on development of highly controllable in vitro microfluidic models for cornea organoid culture and fabrication of polymer-based hydrogels to mimic ocular microenvironment. Now, I am a Marie-Curie Early Stage Researcher at i3S-​Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, where I am working on the PREMUROSA project as ESR7. PROJECT AIM: Develop 3D compartmentalized microfluidic device to address the changes in the innervation profile in both healthy & inflammated cartilage tissues for joints medical applications to promote or avoid peripheral tissue innervation.
Project Aim
Develop 3D compartmentalized microfluidic device to address the changes in the innervation profile in both healthy & inflammated cartilage tissues for joints medical applications to promote or avoid peripheral tissue innervation.
Expected results
Establishment of cartilage constructs within microfluidic devices. Results on the sensory innervation profile on healthy cartilage vs. inflammatory conditions. Results to understand mechanisms under the pathological sprouting of nerve fibers in vitro
Impacts
I believe that our research will make a bridge on the understanding of peripheral tissue innervation and inflammation profile in musculo-skeletal diseases, as well as in drug delivery studies in precision medicine.

ESR 8 - Instituto de Engenharia Biomédica, Porto

Clive Jabangwe

BIO
Clive Jabangwe (ESR8) is a PhD student in faculty of biomedical engineering at INEB, where he is a member of the Neuro Skeletal and Circuits group (PI: Prof M. Lamghari). Clive Jabangwe, as ESR8, in the Marie. S. Curie, Horizon2020, ITN- PREMUROSA project, is working on the Innervation profile of cartilage engineered constructs under exposure to inflammatory insults. Clive received his master degree in (MSc) Medical Biotechnology (108/110), from the University of Eastern Piedmont, in Italy. He also got his bachelor’s degree in (BSc)Biological Sciences from the Midlands State University in Zimbabwe. As ESR8, Clive will acquire skills in Macrophages cultures and polarization, working with 3D neuronal/non-neuronal cocultures in CMV, assessment of the innervation profile triggered by cartilage engineered constructs under stimulation of the proinflammatory vs anti-inflammatory macrophages secretomes, cell and molecular biology techniques
Project Aim
The aim of the PhD project is to investigate the effect of the pro-inflammatory environment on the neurotrophic vs. nerve repulsive ability of cartilage-engineered constructs. This will clarify how the performance of these constructs might be affected by inflammation. The work plan is divided into 3 tasks: Task 1- Establishment of an inflammatory condition in the cartilage constructs Task 2- Sensory neurons attraction and/or repulsion behavior induced by engineered-cartilage constructs Task 3- The activation of neurotrophic and repulsive mechanisms.
Expected results
Identify the tissue innervation profile mediated by cartilage engineered microtissues under exposure to proinflammatory stimulation; Identify key factors, secreted by macrophages, responsible of modulating the neurotrophic ability of these microtissues; Identify the molecular mechanism involved in the mediated innervation profile.
Impacts
It is currently believed that spontaneous arthritic pain (joint pain at rest) and movement-evoked pain are largely driven by joint inflammation. Understanding the pathology of joint inflammation and its involvement in pain nociception will help improve the management of osteoarthritic pain and inform on the novel design of cartilage engineered constructs that do not promote nerve sprouting, thus controlling pain and post treatment life quality of osteoarthritic patients.

ESR 9 - University of Piemonte Orientale

Hugo Abreu

BIO
PhD student from Portugal. MSc degree in Technological, Comparative and Molecular Genetics and BSc degree in Genetics and Biotechnology conferred by University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal. Internship during and after master thesis entitled “Bone disease in Multiple Myeloma: non-coding RNAs as molecular biomarkers and therapeutic targets” at i3S - Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Universidade do Porto, Portugal.
Project Aim
A) to characterize EVs in emblematic patient groups as biomarkers predictive of tissue healing and regeneration; B) to identify the angiogenetic and neurogenetic role of EVs and exosome around materials; C) to promote the release of angiogenetic and neurogenetic factors from EVs by contact with optimized biomaterials.
Expected results
A) to identify the role of EVs and exosome secreted by stem cells in the promotion of tissue regeneration around biomaterials; B) to create protocols for prediction of tissues regeneration by assessment of EVs secretion by stem cells obtained by patients; C) to prototype predictive assays based on EVs determination. D) to identify key factors secreted by stimulated cartilage-engineered constructs confirming their role in modulating the neurotrophic/repulsive ability of engineered cartilage microtissues.
Impacts
By creating in vitro and in silico personalized tools we expect to generate a biological multiomic signature able to predict regeneration in single patients and to support precise clinical choices, including medical devices optimization;

ESR 10 - UPO, Novara, Italy

Elżbieta Pańczyszyn

BIO
I am Elżbieta and I am from Przemyśl, Poland. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Biology, at the Faculty of Biology of Jagiellonian University in Kraków and continued my master studies in the Department of Cell Biology and Imaging also at JU. During my master, I undertook the implementation of issues related to either plant or polymer/hydrogel extract cytotoxicities in relation to tooth-derived stem cells in PELARGODONT (M-ERA.NET) project and since then I have been developing my laboratory skills and interests in the field of biomaterials and tissue regeneration.
Project Aim
Understanding role of immune-system cells and cellular stress adaptation during healing on osteochondral regeneration.
Expected results
Development of new protocols and in vitro assays (3D models prototyping) to evaluate immune and cellular stress response to biomaterials.
Impacts
Developed tools and models will help to identify the key biological aspects to predict patient’s healing and regenerative capability, thus the improvement and optimalization of medical devices for precise treatment.

ESR 11 - Aalto University

Aydin Bordbar-Khiabani

BIO
Aydin completed his master’s degree in materials engineering at Materials and Energy Research Center (MERC) of Iran. Prior to that, he received a bachelor’s degree in the same subject from University of Tabriz. During his master thesis, he worked on preparing the porous bioactive coatings on magnesium-, titanium-, and zinc-based implants by plasma surface treatments. His main research interests are electrochemical-based surface modifications and evaluation of the corrosion behavior and bioactivity of coated-implants.
Project Aim
During Aydin’s Ph.D. studies in PREMUROSA, he works on developing the in-vitro and in-silico models to test regeneration technologies together with innovative computer simulations and biomaterials characterizations. 
Expected results
In this project, a more profound understanding of the mechanical, corrosion, and degradation behaviors of the surface treated-implants under static and dynamic loadings will be achieved, and finally using simulation and modeling, the results will provide new guidance for optimizing the design of porous metallic implants. The increasing the corrosion resistance of implants after surface treatments is predictable due to the deposition of biodegradable coatings. Moreover, the preparation of these bioactive coatings accelerates precipitation of more bone-like apatite on the implants’ surface during the healing process. Using different loading schemes and rates help to better understand the relationship between deposition parameters and mechanical responses of the composite coatings, and hopefully propose relevant material constitutive models by computational fluid dynamics.
Impacts
The results of this study along with other PREMUROSA projects will substantially increase the levels of biocompatibility and safety near the intrinsic cellular aging sites and old bone environments for patients currently treated with metallic implants.

ESR 12 - Enginsoft SpA, Padova

Mauro Nascimben

BIO
Multidisciplinary education in medical sciences (neurophysiology), economics and engineering with previous working experience as data analyst. Obtained specific training and research results in biological signals analysis and application of machine learning techniques to detect and map brain activities. Interested in leveraging machine learning to automate, predict and support decision making in medicine.
Project Aim
Use advanced data processing and data mining methods to evidence “hidden links” between the experimental and clinical variables capable of generating evidence for customized healthcare
Expected results
Produce an optimized bio-informatic architecture to shape “in-vivo” and “in-vitro” information and characterize the behavior and biodynamic of biological compounds also with “in-silico” studies.
Impacts
Precision medicine requires machine learning algorithms to assist in the process of developing personalized medical treatments: possibilities provided by artificial intelligence to learn and upgrade from examples that integrate multiple data sources will produce more consistent, accurate, and useful information.

ESR 13 - Cúram, NUI Galway

Aert Scheper

BIO
Aert obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences and a Master of Science in Regenerative Medicine & Technology from Utrecht University, The Netherlands. His interests include biomaterials, regenerative medicine, and tissue engineering.
Project Aim
To understand the inherent metabolic processes in healthy and disease states of the intervertebral disc. Elucidating metabolic pathways in both states that can be used to design a functionalised hydrogel with specific moieties to mimic and modulate metabolic processes of the cell environment in the nucleus pulposus region of the intervertebral disc.
Expected results
A deeper understanding of the metabolic processes of the diseased intervertebral disc that allows design of a hydrogel model that accurately resembles the intervertebral disc diseased state. This model can then be used to study the adverse effects of the diseased state of the intervertebral disc. Additionally, applying a hydrogel to study its ability to restore cell function and matrix distribution in the diseased disc states.
Impacts
Studying the metabolic processes of the diseased intervertebral disc could allow for treatment for patients of lower back pain. Lower back pain is a prevalent disease in western countries and a major economic burden on society. Restorative treatment for lower back pain would have a positive impact on both patients and the economy.