Tag Archive: students

  1. EAVI2020’s final newsletter of 2020 – Looking back and looking forward

    Leave a Comment

    EAVI2020 Newsletter December 2020 (.pdf opens in a new window)

    2020 has been a bumpy ride (to say the least) for everyone, including EAVI2020. Clinical trials had to come to a standstill due to lockdown restrictions and as a result, EAVI2020 received a no-cost extension from its funding body, The European Commission to make up lost time. Yet, the EAVI2020 consortium still have worked tirelessly, if not more so this year, to continue to develop and evaluate EAVI2020 vaccine candidates. This issue exemplifies the continued work of the EAVI2020 consortium and while it only covers the last three months, it is a testimony that even during a global pandemic, the EAVI2020 consortium don’t stop. In this issue:

    • Forward from Prof Robin Shattock
    • COVID-19 and HIV vaccine R&D. Can one help the other?
    • Five years of EAVI2020 – Annual Meeting 2020
    • Prof Robin Shattock presents to European Parliament
    • The 10th PhD Training Course – The first online
    • Students in Focus: Alessandra Gallinaro & Dominik Dam
    • Publications with EAVI2020 research
    • EAVI2020 out and about (online)
    • Upcoming HIV/AIDS research events
  2. EAVI2020 Students in Focus: Dominik Damm (Department of Virology, Friedrich-Alexander-University (FAU), Erlangen, Germany)

    Leave a Comment

    Time to meet: Dominik Damm

    Where I started

    I wished to work in the field of HIV vaccine research since I was 13 years old. When I started my study of biology at the University of Regensburg, I tried to get into all immunology- and virology-related classes and seminars available and managed to do both my Bachelor and Master thesis on HIV-related topics. Finally, Prof. Klaus Überla gave me a PhD position in his group at the Department of Virology, which is part of the University Hospital in Erlangen, Germany. The group develops and tests nanoparticles as HIV vaccine candidates that present trimers of the HIV envelope protein (Env) on the surface and encapsulate heterologous T helper epitopes inside (T helper nanoparticles). We hope to recruit pre-existing T helper cells from childhood vaccinations in the vaccines that give intrastructural help to the Env-specific B cells, thereby modulating and improving the HIV humoral immune response. So, basically, I am currently doing what I always wanted to do and this gives me motivation every day I go to work.

    photo of Dominik Damm

    Dominik is in his 6th year of study and his research focusses on T helper nanoparticles as HIV vaccine candidates

    Luckily, the EAVI2020 program kicked off in the same year my PhD position started, so I got to experience this great consortium from the very beginning to now. Over the years I attended several PhD training courses and presented my research progress at the annual meetings.

    Where I am

    In principle, the training courses were reflections of the different EAVI2020 work packages with each course laying the focus on another aspect of the wide range of HIV vaccine research. Thus, we covered everything from antigen design, B and T cell vaccines as well as therapeutic approaches to animal models and ethical guidelines, industrial large-scale GMP production, etc. The courses were accompanied by workshops about grant writing and good scientific writing, which now helps me a lot during the final phase of my PhD.

    A wonderful fact of the EAVI2020 meetings was the ability to discuss hurdles, problems and prospects of your own research with other PhD students or leading HIV researchers without the bitter taste of rivalry, because everyone acts in concert and there is huge respect towards each other’s work. Also, the PIs always seemed to set great store on encountering PhD students at eye level in discussions or during presentations, which improved their self-esteem as young researchers.

    Since I did not have the chance to travel a lot as a child or teenager, it was refreshing to be among so many people from different countries and to actually visit these countries for the first time for meetings and training courses. Thus, the EAVI2020 program also enriched my cultural knowledge in many ways. My personal favourite was a one-week visit in Marit van Gils’ and Rogier Sanders’ labs (Academic Medical Center (AMC), The Netherlands) as part of the EAVI2020 student exchange program. Being there, I learned new lab techniques, had plenty of discussions with all the lab members that helped to modify my own project, and I could watch the famous SOSIP trimer production site.

    Where I am going

    As a student, I was always admiring the big international or US-based HIV vaccine consortia such as IAVI or CHAVD, where many scientists are working synergistically together, thereby producing and publishing high-impact research progress very efficiently and in a short amount of time. Now having the exact same thing among European and Australian HIV research groups is a fantastic opportunity and highly promotes competitive, creative strategies to end the HIV pandemic. I dearly hope that the EU will continue with similar or follow-up programs beyond Horizon2020.

    Currently, I perform some last experiments for my PhD project and write the resulting publications. After my PhD, I will try to receive a grant or fellowship for a Postdoc position and hopefully be able to kick off some kind of junior research group.

    Outside the lab

    Outside the lab, I like to clear my mind by going for a walk, while listening to music and catching some Pokémon. I also love to play the guitar and go to concerts, but mainly I spend quality time with my two little children.

  3. EAVI2020 Students in Focus: Philipp Mundsperger (Polymun Scientific, Austria)

    Leave a Comment

    Let’s meet Philipp Mundsperger.

    photo of Phillipp Mundsperger

    PhD student at Polymun Scientific and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria

    Hi! My name is Philipp and I am a PhD student at Polymun Scientific and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria. Within the scope of the EAVI2020 framework, I am found on the industry side of the programme where my colleagues and I have worked on the manufacturing of soluble variants of the HIV-virus envelope glycoprotein (HIV-1 Env) as prospective vaccine antigens. Over the last few years, I have had the opportunity to get to know lots of aspects of vaccine manufacturing, such as the generation of cell lines for the production of vaccine antigens, the production in small and large scale, as well as new methods to ensure quality and safety of the final protein product. Looking back I have to say it was challenging to dig into a very specialised topic in a short amount of time, but that has been the time when I’ve learned the most – professionally and personally. Besides the daily life in the lab, the EAVI2020 PhD training program provided me with the opportunity to attend several training courses and annual consortium meetings, held and organised by partnering institutions.  Stimulating discussions among fellow students and PIs about new ideas or difficulties have made those courses and meetings a great source of motivation to put my own work in the context of the bigger picture of EAVI2020. After graduating I plan to find a job in industry, since I love to work at the interface between applied science and application. Especially now, that I am approaching the final phase of my PhD I am feeling grateful that I have had the chance to get involved with the EAVI2020 community – a truly amazing and inspiring group of people, both in terms of scientific excellence and collaborating efforts.

  4. EAVI2020 Students in Focus: Nathifa Moyo (University of Oxford, UK)

    Leave a Comment

    It’s that time again to shine a light on EAVI2020’s students. So put up your feet, turn off the barrage of incoming COVID-19 news and let’s meet Nathifa Moyo.

    Written by Nathifa Moyo

    Profile photo of Nathifa Moyo

    Nathifa is a Senior Postdoctoral Immunologist at University of Oxford focussing on Studies on HIV-1 vaccine development

    My research within EAVI2020 is based at the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, UK. There, as a Postdoctoral Immunologist in the laboratory of Professor Tomáš Hanke, my work is dedicated to performing in-depth analyses of vaccine-elicited responses in individuals and small animal models vaccinated with novel T cell-based immunogens. Multiple vectors for antigen delivery, such as simian (chimpanzee) adenovirus (ChAdOx1) and new technologies like mRNA, are being assessed to determine if these systems can enhance cellular immune responses.

    Initially, being a part of such a large consortium was challenging, as most projects aim to induce antibody-mediated immunity and my work aims to induce T-cell immunity. However, opportunities to participate in annual meetings offered knowledge exchange leading to a successful collaboration with consortium partners BioNTech and highlighted how all projects complement one another to ultimately achieve EAVI2020’s objectives.

    The early-stage career training programmes have been extremely rewarding and offered diverse topics with hands-on experience. These include GMP vaccine production at the Biotech company Polymun Scientific in Vienna, pre-clinical non-human primate studies at the CEA in Paris and assessing antibody-mediated responses at the Instituto de Salud Carlos III in Madrid. Collectively, they provided a greater understanding of how vaccines are progressed in an iterative process leading to the translation of the best strategies to clinics. To experience different research environments and learn from the experts in those labs have been tremendous and have inspired new research ideas. The generosity of staff, who gave their time to conduct these courses, has filled me with immense gratitude. To those students/postdocs considering similar programmes, please know that the benefits will be invaluable.

    It is hoped that my career will continue to advance within this field, incorporating host-pathogen interaction studies to improve vaccine design. The accomplishments of the consortium should be applauded and demonstrates that the collective efforts of the scientific community can have a greater impact.

    ——————————–

    Throughout the past four years, the students of EAVI2020 have worked tirelessly in The Continuing Education & Training in HIV vaccine development programme. This is a work package of the EAVI2020 project dedicated to the employment and training of young scientists in Europe. It comprises of scientific fellowships, student exchange, wet workshops, and a PhD Programme to maximise the training of the next generation of young scientists in the field of vaccine development. It is now time we shine a positive spotlight on the students to hear from them about their experience in the programme, lessons learned, and what they hope to achieve moving beyond EAVI2020s. ‘EAVI2020 Students in Focus’ will be a regular news feature so be sure to subscribe to the EAVI2020 newsletter to get the latest updates.  In this issue, we feature.

  5. EAVI2020 Students in Focus: Athina Kilpeläinen (Karolinska Institutet, Sweden)

    Leave a Comment

    Throughout the past four years, the students of EAVI2020 have worked tirelessly in The Continuing Education & Training in HIV vaccine development programme. This is a work package of the EAVI2020 project dedicated to the employment and training of young scientists in Europe. It comprises of scientific fellowships, student exchange, wet workshops, and a PhD Programme to maximise the training of the next generation of young scientists in the field of vaccine development. It is now time we shine a positive spotlight on the students to hear from them about their experience in the programme, lessons learned and what they hope to achieve moving beyond EAVI2020s. ‘EAVI2020 Students in Focus’ will be a regular news feature so be sure to subscribe to the EAVI2020 newsletter to get the latest updates.  In this issue, we feature Yoann Aldon and Athina Kilpelïnen.

    Athina Kilpeläinen

    During the EAVI2020 training program, I was given the chance to present my work orally and discuss my findings and conclusions with fellow students. This provided me with the opportunity to improve my presentation skills as well as receive valuable scientific input and advice. During the training program, I have had the chance to partake in practical courses and learn new laboratory methods. These experiences have been highly fruitful and will be highly beneficial to my scientific career. This has been the most rewarding part, aside from the relationships I’ve been able to build thanks to the program. As an EAVI2020 PhD student, I was given the opportunity to move to Barcelona (Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR)) all the way from Stockholm (Karolinska Institutet). It has been a great experience overall, discovering a new culture, meeting new people and being welcomed into a new research laboratory. Furthermore, being a part of the consortium, I was able to expand my research network and build relationships with scientists at all stages in the field, aside from just PhD students. This will be a great benefit in the next stage of my scientific career as a postdoctoral researcher. I strongly recommend taking part in a PhD training course like the one arranged in the EAVI2020. My advice would be to not be afraid to ask questions or interact with fellow students.

    You can see Athina speak as a panellist in the EAVI2020 webinar titled, Developing an effective #HIV vaccine: what do we need and when will we get there?

  6. EAVI2020 Students in Focus: Yoann Aldon (Imperial College London, UK)

    Leave a Comment

    Feature image by Nino Carè from Pixabay

    Throughout the past four years, the students of EAVI2020 have worked tirelessly in the Continuing Education & Training in HIV vaccine development programme. This is a work package of the EAVI2020 project dedicated to the employment and training of young scientists in Europe. It comprises of scientific fellowships, student exchange, wet workshops, and a PhD Programme to maximise the training of the next generation of young scientists in the field of vaccine development. It is now time we shine a positive spotlight on the students to hear from them about their experience in the programme, lessons learned and what they hope to achieve moving beyond EAVI2020s. ‘EAVI2020 Students in Focus’ will be a regular news feature so be sure to subscribe to the EAVI2020 newsletter to get the latest updates.  In this issue, we feature Yoann Aldon and Athina Kilpelïnen.

    Yoann Aldon

    Being involved in the EAVI2020 consortium as a PhD student was a very positive experience. Over the 4 years of my PhD in Prof Robin J. Shattock’s group at Imperial College, this remarkable H2020 European project set up biannual courses and promoted student mobility between research groups. In addition to being exposed to new techniques and knowledge, these courses, as well as the annual meetings, strengthened collaborations and bonds among students and collaborators across Europe. Throughout my PhD years, I had the chance to be involved in several projects within the EAVI2020 and found that the consortium network was very supportive of students.

    It goes without saying that as students we felt privileged travelling to cities around the continent where we enjoyed visits and nights out together. Another appealing quality of this project was the academic background diversity of the students and researchers involved which created a favourable environment for solving scientific questions rapidly. In my opinion, the EAVI2020 consortium represents a great example of how the European Union is a leader in academic research and can foster successful and efficient public-private partnerships with vaccine products ready for clinical trials within a limited period of time. On a more personal level, I graduated last summer 2019 and I am proud to have been an EU-funded PhD student. I have now joined the group of one of the EAVI2020 partners in Amsterdam, Pr. Rogier W. Sanders, and started my post-doc this January 2020. I am grateful for the opportunities, courses and energy the EAVI2020 gave me and I can only wish that many more consortiums like this one will be funded by the EU.