On the 10th-11th of February 2014, the Centre for BioNano Interactions (CBNI), University College Dublin, welcomed a European audience to a two-day launch meeting of the €3 million, EU FP7-funded, Marie Curie Initial Training Networks (ITN) Project, PathChooser. In attendance were the Fellows who have already been appointed and the Principle Investigators who will guide them on their chosen, respective paths. The PathChooser initiative brings together experts from both research and industry to ensure excellence in the consortium and excellence in the development of the Fellows, who of course are the most important part of this (Fig. 1 Fellows are central in the Marie Curie ITN Programs).
The consortium consists of partners across the European Union; from Denmark (SYDDANSK UNIVERSITET), Germany (HELMHOLTZ-ZENTRUM FUER INFEKTIONSFORSCHUNG GMBH and MAX PLANCK GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FOERDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN E.V.), The United Kingdom (THE UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER, KING’s COLLEGE LONDON and UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL, AvantiCell Science Ltd), Cyprus (E.P.O.S. IASIS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT LTD) and Ireland (UCD, Centre for BioNano Interactions).
The scientific focus of this project is the exploration of the bio-nano interface and the elucidation of the mechanisms of barrier negotiation that control the efficient crossing of nanoparticles. Specifically, the premise of the project is that an exhaustive understanding of the key mechanisms that regulate endocytosis, transcytosis and barrier crossing, together with an innovative design of drug carriers and characterization of the in-situ interface between the carrier system and the cellular machinery are paramount for advancing the nanomedicine field. This research will be facilitated by the Associated Partners, namely Genzyme, a Sanofi Company (United States of America), and University of Cyprus Business Incubator, DIOGENES (Cyprus).
Additionally, the consortium was treated to a broad range of presentations covering Marie-Curie Actions, Ethics, Intellectual Property and Research – Industry Relationships. A general overview on Marie Curie actions, as given by Dr Jennifer Brennan, the Irish based European Advisor for Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (National Contact Point), emphasized the quality of the research training that characterizes ITNs and the opportunity afforded to the Fellows to work in an interdisciplinary environment, with exposure to industry and relevant employment sectors.
Aspects such as the challenges that nanomedicine development faces in the matter of ethics (Dr Dónal O’Mathúna, Senior Lecturer in Ethics, Decision-Making & Evidence in the School of Nursing, DCU), animal ethics (Dr John Baugh, Senior Lecturer, UCD Conway Institute for Biomolecular and Biomedical Research), intellectual property and commercialization of new medicines (Dr François MJ Pichot, UCD Innovation) and the importance of industrial relationships in nanoscience (Dr Jo Oliver, AvantiCell Science Ltd) were also brought into discussion, as fundamental for the development of the consortium.
This kick-off meeting served as an opportunity for the Fellows to formally introduce themselves, their backgrounds and goals, to the consortium as well as to each other. Each Fellow, over the course of their project, will get the opportunity to travel between some of the partners in the consortium via secondments; this together with a suite of Training Activities, is an integral component of the Marie Curie ITNs, and is specifically designed such that Fellows can broaden their skill set, acquire both interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial research experience together with affording them an added opportunity to increase their networking base, for potential future collaborations. For some, the project can’t start soon enough, in particular the opportunity to learn new techniques, develop new skills and expand on their current knowledge base. The Fellows are the future and their development towards world leading research scientists is the fundamental goal of this project and all ITN’s for that matter. In their hands the future is bright!
The PathChooser fellows will contribute, on a topic relevant to their work within the consortium, to an upcoming special issue of The European Journal of Nanomedicine.