ESR1 Malgorzata Mnich ESR1 Malgorzata Mnich


In June 2014 and 2016 I obtained respectively Bachelor and Master Degree in Biochemistry at the Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University in Krakow. From the beginning of my studies I have been interested in host-pathogen interactions, therefore in the second year of my BS I joined Department of Immunology, where initially I began to work on the role of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) and granzyme B in pathogenesis of psoriasis. In 2014 I was awarded with an university grant for students thanks to which I had a chance to conduct my own student research project. The objective of the research was to compare skin from healthy donors and skin of patients suffering from psoriasis in terms of occurrence of plasmacytoid dendritic cells and granzyme B. During the course of my studies I took part in Erasmus+ Internship at the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at the Rega Institute, KU Leuven, Belgium. I was involved in a project which aimed to characterize chemokines released from thrombocytes, especially PF4 and PF4var.

Since my interests were more directed into the subject of innate immunity, during MS I started to work on neutrophils, especially on production of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) and their qualitative analysis. As a result I defended my Master Thesis with the award of a distinction. After graduation I decided to gain extensive microbiological experience by taking part in Erasmus+ Internship at the department of Medical Microbiology in University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU), Netherlands, where I was involved in a project on interaction between Staphylococcus aureus and the Macrophage Galactose-type C-type Lectin (MGL) receptor.

In July 2017 I joined DISSection PhD program, during which I will take part in project on Human-specific S. aureus pathogenic and immune evasion mechanisms. The project is divided into two parts. During the first part of the project I will work in UMCU, where my goal will be to determine the role of antigen-presenting cells in interaction and functional responses toS. aureus and to identify receptors on Langerhans cells and dermal dendritic cells that confer binding to S. aureus as well as to unravel their biological responses. The second part of the project starting in January 2019 I will carry on in GSKVACSRL, where I will work on characterizing S. aureus as well as polymicrobial infections in human skin explants.

ESR2 Elena Boero ESR2 Elena Boero


I started my academic studies in Biological Sciences in 2011, at the University of Genova, where I grew fond of the molecular aspects of this subject. I completed my education at the University of Pavia where I gained a master’s degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics in July 2016. My first research experience there was mainly about human telomeres and their transcriptional activity and products. Interested in Immunology and Microbiology and also willing to gain experience out of the academia, I was able to obtain a post-graduate internship position at GSK Vaccines (Siena) in October 2016. There I worked in the antigen identification unit, where I mainly carried out serum bactericidal assays aimed at evaluating the complement-mediated killing of the vaccine antigens against the bacterium Non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae.

In July 2017 I joined the DISSection project at UMC Utrecht where I will spend a period of 18 months and in January 2019 I will move to Italy at GSK Vaccines for the second part of the program. My goal is to characterize the role of phagocytes and complement in immune clearance of Staphylococcus aureus (supervised by associate professor Suzan Rooijakkers), and later contribute to the development of an immune competent skin model to study skin infections. Moreover, I will investigate the use of C3-coupling of S. aureus as an adjuvant strategy for vaccination improvement (supervised by Elisabetta Soldaini, GSK Vaccines, Siena).

ESR3 Astrid Hendriks ESR3 Astrid Hendriks


Being born and raised in Utrecht, The Netherlands, I decided to stay in my hometown to enter the Bachelor programme Biomedical Sciences at Utrecht University in 2010. I obtained my bachelor degree in 2014, with an additional certificate to teach high school biology. Next, I pursued further scientific education by entering the research master programme Infection & Immunity, which is part of the Graduate School of Life Sciences at Utrecht University. I did a 9 month internship in the lab of Dr. Niels Bovenschen at the department of Pathology within the UMC Utrecht. Here, I investigated the interplay between human cytomegalovirus infection and the adaptive immune response, specifically during viral reactivation from latency. In 2016, I left for the UK to work in the lab of prof. Simon Foster at the University of Sheffield for 6 months. My project encompassed the use of the zebrafish embryo infection model to study S. aureus pathogenesis, e.g. by using in vivo confocal microscopy. After obtaining my master degree in 2016, I applied for a PhD position within the DISSection project. This project enables the unique opportunity of conducting research in both industry and academia, while attempting to battle a clinically and societal relevant issue, namely emerging antimicrobial resistance. My project started in July 2017 at GSK Vaccines in Siena and is aimed at setting up a human skin model for vaccine research by studying S. aureus infection ex vivo, focusing on the cellular and humoral immune responses to potential S. aureus vaccine targets. I will spend 18 months in industry and in January 2019 I will move to UMCU where I will complete my research project.

ESR4 Ana Rita Queiroz da Cruz ESR4 Ana Rita Queiroz da Cruz


I graduated in Biochemistry and did my Master’s degree in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, at University of Coimbra, Portugal, in 2013 and 2015, respectively. Throughout my Master’s degree, I participated in the research activity of Vectors and Gene Therapy Group, at the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology of the University of Coimbra. During these two years, I was interested in optimizing the efficiency of non-viral vectors to deliver nucleic acids into cancer cell lines. From that work resulted my first authorship publication, a poster communication and three publications as a co-author.

After finishing my Masters, I worked as a research fellow, in Functional Genomics and RNA-Based Therapeutics Group, at the same institute. In this group, I integrated a research project funded by Infect-ERA and, in the framework of this collaborative program, I had the opportunity to do a six-week internship at the Institute for Molecular Infection Biology, at University of Würzburg, Germany. Then, when I returned to Portugal, I started to perform high-content microscopy-based screenings, using a human microRNA library, in order to unveil host factors that are relevant to infections caused by different bacterial pathogens (Salmonella Typhimurium, Shigella flexneri, Campylobacter jejuni and Staphylococcus aureus). During these 20-months, I acquired laboratorial and conceptual skills in the field of Infection and I developed a strong curiosity and passion in the area of host-pathogen interaction.

As part of the Doctoral Industrial School on Human Skin models for Staphylococcal infections, I will characterize the S. aureus vaccine antigen expression at the site of infection, as well as the host response to the infection. Since July 2017 to December 2018 I will work at GSK Vaccines and in January 2019 I will move to Utrecht at UMC where I will complete my research project.