GLIOTRAIN Secondments are Well Underway!

The mobility of early stage researchers between industry, academia and other research organisations is a fundamental training element of Marie Curie programmes. It ensures that Marie Curie students will have been exposed to at least two research environments before they move on to the next stage of their careers. All GLIOTRAIN students, as part of their training, must undertake at least one inter-disciplinary secondment. Many of our students have now completed at least one secondment or are currently on secondment. Ayoub Lasri (RCSI) was our first secondee in 2018, where he undertook the first six months of his project at GEX being trained in their bespoke tools.

Cancer Trials Ireland, have hosted two students on secondment; Romain Tching Chi Yen (ITTM) was based with CTI in 2018, whilst RCSI student Viktorija Juric is currently on secondment. Cancer Trials Ireland are a the leading cancer research trials organisation in Ireland which means that our students are immersed in a clinical trials research environment, and learn about how clinical trials are performed, supervised and regulated.

EMC student Federica Fabro is currently on secondment to Mimetas. Mimetas are an "organ-on-a-chip" company who specialise in the development of better in vitro models for use in scientific research, including cancer research. Federica will use a Mimetas 3D GBM cell culture model to predict the response to a panel of drugs called small kinase inhibitors. 3D cell culture is a technique where cancer cells are grown as small clumps called "spheroids". This method is thought to replicate a human tumour more closely than growing the cells on a plastic plate, which is known as "2D cell culture".

In 2019 Dr Brona Murphy (RCSI) hosted USTUTT student Chiara Boccellato. Chiara developed 3D tumour spheroids of both primary and recurrent GBM from a number of different patients. She used the spheroid models to see how sensitive each patients' GBM cells were to a combination therapy of two drugs called IZI1551 and marizomib. Chiara also received training in live cell imaging of 3D GBM tumour spheroids in order to visualize spheroid death.

Ioannis Ntafoulis (EMC) completed a secondment to RCSI in 2018. During his time there, his focus was to identify predictors of response of GBM cells to anti-cancer agents, using systems biology (computational) approaches. He worked to develop a computer model that could shortlist the most promising drugs. The model used data including the chemical and physical properties of the drugs as well as their capacity to reduce/inhibit tumour cell growth, on a broad panel of 45 patients' GBM cell cultures to define the best options for treatment.

From April - July 2019, Gonca Dilcan Durdag was on secondment from AG to VIB, in the laboratory of Prof Lambrechts. Here Gonca performed the sequencing described at the beginning of the newsletter, alongside Francesca Lodi and other members of Prof Lambrechts' VIB team. Archita Biswas (RCSI) has also been on secondment to ICM Paris, where she received training in handling of patients' tumour samples, the extraction of DNA and RNA from patient samples and in the collection of clinical data that would feed into the GLIOTRAIN database for patient samples coming from ICM.

Another ongoing secondment is that of Manasa Kalya Purushothama (GEX) who is currently based at the Georg August Universität, Göttingen. Here she is undertaking expert training in machine learning methods (link though to the comic introduced below for an introduction to machine learning!), artificial neural networks and other AI algorithms through courses offered at different departments in university.

Recently ITTM student Romain Tching Chi Yen has commenced a secondment to EMC, Rotterdam. Pictured here left, with fellow GLIOTRAIN ESR, Ioannis Ntafoulis (EMC).