Frank Assen, Early Stage Researcher, IST Austria, Vienna

Frank was born in Enschede, The Netherlands. He studied Technical Medicine at the University of Twente, The Netherlands and specialized in Reconstructive Medicine during his Masters study. During this time he did four clinical/scientific internships on Reconstructive Medicine topics at the Dep. of Orthopaedics, Utrecht University Medical Centers, Dep. of  Medical Immunology & Dep. Of Pathology St. Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and at the Laboratory of Stem Cell Bioengineering at the EPFL, Switzerland. He obtained his Master degree in 2012 following a thesis project on the development of a scaffold platform for the extrahepatic transplantation of islets of Langerhans in type 1 Diabetes patients at the Dep. of Nephrology, Leiden University Medical Center and Developmental BioEngineering group of the University of Twente.

Since December 2013 Frank is a PhD student in the lab of Michael Sixt at the IST Austria, Vienna. Here he is assessing the role of fibroblastic reticular cells of  secondary lymphoid organs in orchestrating the immune response to soluble antigens.

Marion Braun, Experienced Researcher, Miltenyi Biotec GmbH, Bergisch Gladbach

Marion BraunMarion was born in Tuttlingen, Germany. She studied Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Heidelberg, and did her Master Thesis in the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in the field of tumour immunology. She then moved to Lausanne, Switzerland, where she did her PhD in the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. She studied vaccine-induced CD4 T cell responses in melanoma patients, designed and evaluated the potential of new long peptide candidates for future vaccination, and set up a system for gene expression analysis in single CD4 T cells. In collaboration, she further studied the influence of IFN-b-dependent inflammasome regulation in human monocytes. In 2012, she joined STROMA ITN to develop new tools for the analysis of stromal cells at Miltenyi Biotec GmbH.

Bethania Cassani, Early Stage Researcher, IMM Lisbon

Bethania Cassani croppedBethania was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. In 2011 she received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from the Universitat de València in Spain. After university she obtained a Leonardo da Vinci fellowship in IBET Oeiras-Portugal where she worked in structure-based drug design preclinical projects, in strong collaboration with pharmaceutical companies. At the same time she performed a scientific research training programme at ITQB-UNL-Portugal in thermal-stability studies of the human Ethylmalonic Encephalopathy protein in the Macromolecular Crystallography Unit under the supervision of Dr. Tiago Bandeiras. In 2012 she received a MSc in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biomedicine from the UCM-Madrid-Spain for the study of the role of the WHSC1 gene in lymphocyte development and function under the supervision of Dr. César Cobaleda Hernández at the CBMSO-UAM. Since September 2012 Bethania is a PhD student in Dr. Henrique Veiga Fernandes lab at IMM-Lisbon where she is researching stroma-innate lymphoid cells interactions in enteric lymphoid tissue formation.

Hung Wei Cheng, Early Stage Researcher, Kantonsspital St Gallen

Hung-Wei ChengHung-Wei was born in Taiwan. He received his master degree in Microbiology from National Taiwan University. He worked on the study to investigate the interaction between bacteria and host factors in streptococcal experimental endocarditis. Currently, he is a phD student in Microbiology and Immunology program in ETH Zurich Switzerland. His main interest is in the stromal cells differentiation in secondary lymphoid organs and the function of stromal cells in the non-small cell lung cancer.


Olga Cordeiro, Early Stage Researcher, IMBC Strasbourg

Olga CordeiroOlga was born in Faro, Portugal. In 2011 she received her bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Algarve, and in 2012 a MSc in Molecular Medicine from Cranfield University, England. Currently she is doing a PhD in IBMC, Strasbourg University, France. The PhD concerns the study of RANK/RANKL effect on lymph node stromal cells, and it is under the supervision of Dr. Christopher Mueller. Olga is interested in clinical and functional immunology, as well as microbiology.


Natalie Fekete, Experienced Researcher, University of Twente and Materiomics B.V.

Fekete_NatalieNatalie studied biology with a focus on immunology at the Albert-Ludwigs-University in Freiburg, Germany. She received her Master’s degree for her work on the function of the protein tyrosine phosphatase SHP-1 in the nucleus at the Max Planck Institute for Immunobiology in 2009. During her PhD studies at the Institute of Transfusion Medicine, University of Ulm, she expanded her knowledge in cell therapy and completed her doctoral degree with her thesis entitled ‘Mesenchymal stromal cells for cell therapy: Good Manufacturing Practice-compliant expansion systems and nanoparticle-based imaging’ in 2012. Since January 2013 she is working as an experienced researcher for STROMA at Materiomics B.V.

Jan Misiak, Early Stage Researcher,  U917 INSERM-Rennes

Jan was born in Poland. He received his master’s degree in Biotechnology from Poznan University of Medical Sciences in 2012. His thesis was realized under the scholarship of the Foundation for Polish Science in the topic of biological relevance of Preferentially Expressed Antigen in Melanoma (PRAME) protein in head and neck cancers. Currently, he is a PhD student at INSERM Unit 917/University of Rennes 1 in France. He focuses on the interaction of follicular helper T cells and the stromal cells in the context of follicular lymphoma.

Urs Moerbe, Early Stage Researcher, Kantonsspital St Gallen

Urs MoerbeUrs received his bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Konstanz, Germany in 2010. Subsequently, he started a master in Biomedical Sciences, focusing on T cell immunology. Within that master’s programme he was investigating the role of mutations in genes encoding for the immunoproteasome associated with the development of type I diabetes. Furthermore, he completed a 6-month research project about T helper cell-independent priming of cytotoxic T lymphocytes. After receiving his master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from Utrecht University in 2013, he joined the group of Prof. Dr. Burkhard Ludewig at the Kantonsspital St.Gallen, Switzerland to pursue a PhD project. He focuses on the role and fate of CXCL13-producing stromal cells during the development of lymphoid organs.

Luciano Pacelli, Experienced Researcher, MedImmune

Luciano was born in Torre del Greco, Italy. He studied Biotechnology at “Seconda Universita’ degli studi di Napoli” and in 2007 he earned his bachelor degree. Subsequently he moved to “Universita’ degli studi di Firenze” to study Medical Biotechnology. After 12 months internship at Section of Immunology and allergology he received the Master degree in 2009 with a thesis on human B cell and Mesenchymal stromal cell interaction. During his PhD in Regenative Medicine he worked within the European consortium “CASCADE”  where he expanded his knowledge about immunomodulatory effect of human mesenchymal stromal cell on immune effector cells. He received the PhD title at “Universita’ degli studi di Verona” in 2012. In 2013, thanks to the STROMA-ITN, he joined MedImmune as Experienced Researcher.

Shubham Pandey, Early Stage Researcher, U917 INSERM-Rennes

Shubham PandeyShubham was born in India. He received his BSc. (Biotechnology) in 2006 and Master’s in Stem cell and Regenerative Medicine (Manipal University) in 2011. He undertook Prof. Annapoorni Rangarajan’s guidance for his Master’s Thesis at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore and worked with her until December 2011. Later he was supervised by Prof. Catherine Verfaillie, KU. Leuven, Belgium for his Pre-doctoral and he received his Pre-doctoral in Biomedical Science in 2012. At present, he is the part of Prof. Karin Tarte’s team in INSERM-U917/University of Rennes1. As a PhD student his aim is to explore the factors involved in stroma modification in Follicular Lymphoma (FL) and how this modified stroma affects the malignant B-cell behaviour.

Ana Pinto, Early Stage Researcher, University of York

Ana was born in Guimaraes, Portugal. She graduated in Clinical Analysis and Public Health in Coimbra College of Health Technology. Subsequently, she did a post-graduate course in Legal Medical Sciences (Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar- University of Porto). Later on, she had the opportunity to do a Leonardo da Vinci internship in Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research (IDIBELL-ICO)-Cancer Epigenetics and Biology Program (PEBC), focusing in massive parallel DNA pyrosequencing analysis of the tumour suppressor BRG1/SMARCA4 in lung primary tumours. From 2009 to 2012, she worked as flow cytometry technician at IMM Lisbon, where she collaborated in two research projects namely: “Novel bacteria two-hybrid system based on manipulation of a degradation pathway” and “Cellular and molecular requirements in human Regulatory T cell development”.  In the meantime, she also completed a Masters in Molecular Genetics in the Escola de Cìências-Universidade do Minho, framed in the project “Cellular and molecular requirements in human regulatory T cell development”. In December 2012, she joined STROMA ITN to study the impact of Leishmania donovani infection in myelopoiesis.

Olivier Preham, Early Stage Researcher, University of York

Olivier STROMA_smallOlivier was born in France. He received his BSc and MSc in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the Université Henri Poincaré in Nancy, France (now Université de Lorraine). He did a 6-month internship in the Oncology unit at the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel, Switzerland, where he studied the regulation of the NF-κB pathway in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. He then worked in the same department as a Research Associate for year in drug discovery. Olivier is now a PhD student at the University of York where he studies the role of bone marrow stromal cells during chronic infection with intracellular parasites.

Monica Romera, Early Stage Researcher, Erasmus MC

Monica RomeraMonica studied Biotechnology at Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, from 2007 until 2011. She always had a special interest in biomedical research related to the field of immunology. Therefore, she performed a 10-month internship, as her final MSc project, mainly focused on the study of aberrant populations of intraepithelial lymphocytes that expand in Coeliac Disease at Leiden University Medical Center. At present, she is part of Tom Cupedo’s group at Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam. As a PhD student, her main research goal is to reveal the innate lymphoid cell niche contribution to the steady-state function of secondary lymphoid tissues.

Martina Sardi, Early Stage Researcher, ProBioGen AG

Martina SardiMartina Sardi was born in Italy: she studied at University of Teramo where she got her bachelor´s degree in Biotechnology and her MSc in Biotehcnology of Reproduction. In 2012 she was employed as Project Officer in the department of Materials Science and Engineering at Nanyang University of Singapore where she worked on nanostructured hydrogels development for cardiac tissue engineering.

Since September 2012, Martina is part of Christoph Giese’s group at ProBioGen in Berlin. As a PhD student, her main research goal is to improve the formation of B/T cell zone and germinal center formation of  PBG´s  Human Artificial Lymph Node through the implementation of a stromal environment.

Anne Thuery, Early Stage Researcher, University of York

Anne STROMA cropped

Anne was born in France. She received her BSc in Bioengineering in 2009 and her MSc in Biotechnology in 2011 from the University Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France. During her first year of masters, she undertook a project focusing on NK cells and their role in ALK-positive tumors at Inserm in Toulouse. After this she went on to Novartis in Basel, Switzerland to work on the regulation of vitamin D and phosphate homeostasis in FGF-23 related hypophosphatemic mouse models. Since September 2012 she is working as a PhD student at the University of York in Dr. Mark Coles’ group. Her project focuses on the role of lymph node stromal cells in adjuvant efficacy.

Aliaksei Vasilevich, Early Stage Researcher, University of Twente

Aliaksei VasilevichAliaksei earned his Bachelor and Master’s degree in Biological Sciences at the International Sakharov Environmental University (Minsk, Belarus) in 2010, where he developed a method to rapidly measure the sensitivity of cells to drugs using image analysis. As a junior research assistant at The Republic Research & Production Center for Transfusiology and Medical Biotechnologies (Minsk, Belarus) he built on his background in cell screening to create a biochemical assay to determine a personalized treatment course for patients with leukaemia. He is currently a PhD student in the de Boer group, where he will continue to develop his interest in the field of high content screening. During his PhD study he is aiming to deeper understand stromal cell response to patterned surfaces.