During 21st-24th of September, UCD hosted the PathChooser Mid-Term Meeting, where fellows, PIs and European Commission reviewers gathered to evaluate the progress made during the first two years of the project. Participants had the chance to share their research, training, dissemination and outreach and to develop further collaborations for the remaining half of PathChooser.
PathChooser is a multidisciplinary network, focused on developing biological barriers, more efficient and selective nanoparticles, and understanding the interaction between them. Our fellows have made significant progress in this area, by establishing novel placental, blood-brain-barrier and pulmonary models and by optimizing delivery nanosystems. The fellows have already published quite a few papers and many manuscripts are in preparation or under review. One of the particularly successful stories is the attempt to offer for the first time a comparison between the protein coronas that formed in vitro and in vivo on clinically established, PEGylated liposome systems of nanoscale dimensions and to determine the corona impact on their cellular internalisation. The findings of this comprehensive study were published in the highly regarded journal, ACS Nano and also featured on the cover of the issue.
The fellows have participated and presented their work in several conferences and training programs such as Gordon research conference – Barriers of the central nervous system, 4th Cold Spring Harbor Conference on Blood Brain Barrier, “International Congress on Safety of Engineered Nanoparticles and Nanotechnologies” SENN2015 or the 1st Scottish Microscopy Group and Microscopy Society of Ireland Symposium. These conferences provided an excellent platform for the fellows to expand their professional network, start new collaborations, and of course to get to know the most recent findings of their specific field of research. In addition, the fellows received training in different advanced techniques tailored to their respective projects (tissue culture, advanced microscopy, characterization techniques) and complementary skills such as IP, Ethics, Proposal writing etc. One of the fellows, Catherine Gilmore, spent a month at the University of Osaka to learn some of the most recent tissue engineering techniques, which were essential for her research and for the establishment of her placental barrier model.
As synergies have been established and as the project gathers momentum, the number of secondments will increase. One secondment has already finished; Martina Tuttolomondo from SDU spent 3 months at CBNI UCD, she used advanced characterisation techniques which enabled her to move forward in her project. In addition to the scientific progress (research, training, dissemination), each fellow has done quite many outreach activities. They organised workshops, communicated their research to public audience, participated in Science Uncovered Manchester event, engage with school pupils to introduce the basics of cell biology etc. Regarding outreach, one of the biggest successes belongs to Catherine Gilmore, who won the University of Bristol Three Minute Thesis competition, where she presented her research within three minutes. In collaboration with a science writer and an artist, Catherine also developed an interactive display at Greenman Festival in Wales, where they educated people about the human placenta, its biology, barrier function and the research they do it their lab at the University of Bristol.