Dr. Fernández-Rozadilla, with a PhD in Genetics from the University of Santiago de Compostela, is an esteemed researcher in cancer genomics. After postdoctoral training at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, she became an early PI at the Cancer Predisposition and Biomarkers lab in the Santiago Biomedical Research Institute. Her work focuses on identifying individuals at higher risk of colorectal cancer by analyzing genomics and other omics data. Using omic-wide strategies like GWAS, TWAS, and MWAS, she uncovers the genes associated with bowel cancer predisposition. This knowledge enhances our understanding of cancer biology, aids in therapeutic development, and informs risk stratification for population-wide screening. Dr. Fernández-Rozadilla also explores single-cell transcriptomics, liquid biopsy, immunotherapy response markers, therapy resistance in cancer stem cells, and genetic predisposition to adverse drug reactions. As the supervisor for PhDs 1 and 10 at FIDIS and co-supervisor for PhD5 at GenomeScan, she plays a crucial role in guiding the research endeavors of the ColoMARK project, propelling advancements in cancer diagnostics and treatment.
Dr. Vivian Viallon, with an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in statistics from the University Pierre et Marie Curie of Paris, is a prominent researcher in cancer epidemiology and biostatistics. He served as an Assistant Professor at Hopital Cochin and University Paris Descartes before joining the University of Lyon as an Associate Professor. Currently, he leads the Biostatistics and Data Integration (BDI) team at the Nutrition and Metabolism Branch of the International Agency for Research on Cancer. His research focuses on studying the impact of lifestyle and molecular factors on cancer occurrence using statistical methods and machine learning. He has developed innovative approaches to analyze large prospective cohort studies, including preprocessing and harmonizing omics data, constructing molecular signatures, and investigating biological pathways related to lifestyle and cancer risk. Dr. Vivian Viallon supervises PhD 2 and co-supervises PhD10 at FIDIS, playing a crucial role in advancing the ColoMARK project's research efforts.
Dr. David Hughes, a Co-director of the Cancer Biology & Therapeutics lab cluster at University College Dublin (UCD), plays a vital role in molecular epidemiology research on gastrointestinal cancers. With a diverse academic background and teaching experience at UCD, his expertise encompasses the impact of nutritional, genetic, metabolic, microbial, and lifestyle factors on cancer initiation and progression. His group is investigating these factors using international population cohorts and patient studies supported by prestigious funders including the European Union, the Health Research Board of Ireland and the International HundredK+ Cohort Consortium. Dr. Hughes holds leadership positions in the Irish Cancer Epidemiology Network and the International Society for Selenium Research, contributing to influential studies like the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. In the ColoMARK project, Dr. Hughes serves as the project supervisor for PhD3 (UCD, Dublin) and co-supervisor for PhD2 (IARC, Lyon), actively guiding the research efforts of these doctoral candidates.
Dr. Ellen Heitzer, a renowned clinical laboratory geneticist at the Diagnostic & Research Institute of Human Genetics, Medical University of Graz, Austria, specializes in liquid biopsies and is an expert in the field. She holds a professorship for Liquid Biopsies and leads the Research Unit for Liquid Biopsies for personalized medicine in cancer. Her pioneering work focuses on the use of liquid biopsies, particularly ctDNA, for cancer detection, treatment monitoring, and identification of resistance mechanisms. With extensive experience in plasma DNA analysis, her research group excels in genome-wide copy number alteration studies and high-sensitivity mutation detection. Dr. Heitzer's expertise has gained international recognition, evident through invitations to prestigious congresses and contributions to renowned journals.
Additionally, Dr. Heitzer plays a vital role in routine diagnostics of hereditary diseases, with a specific emphasis on familial cancer syndromes. She actively contributes to the development and implementation of molecular genetics and next-generation sequencing methods. The acquisition of the NovaSeq technology through the Austrian Network for Medical Genome Analysis (MedGenA) has further expanded the possibilities for genomic and cellular profiling in research and diagnostics. As the supervisor for PhD4 at MUG and co-supervisor for PhD1 at FIDIS, Dr. Heitzer guides the research of these doctoral candidates.
Dr. Sander Tuit, a Funding Manager at GenomeScan, brings a wealth of expertise to the team. Having completed his PhD in computational tumor immunology at the University of Bonn, he continued his research journey at the Leiden University Medical Center. There, he focused on analyzing multi-omics data to identify targets for T-cell therapy in cancer and predictive biomarkers for response to treatment of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) using mesenchymal stromal cells. In 2021, Dr. Tuit joined GenomeScan as a Project Manager for Research and Development, where he oversees nationally and internationally funded research and innovation projects. His proficiency lies in next-generation sequencing technologies and analysis, particularly within the realm of immunology. As part of the ColoMARK consortium, he serves as the Project Supervisor for PhD5 and Co-Supervisor for PhD3. Dr. Tuit's invaluable contributions will undoubtedly propel the success of these projects, pushing the boundaries of cancer diagnostics and advancing our understanding of personalized medicine.
Dr. Salvatore Pernagallo, holding a diverse educational background in molecular biology, genetics, and chemistry, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his role. With a B.Sc. and M.Sc. from the University of Catania (Italy), a Ph.D. in chemistry, and a PostDoc in tissue engineering from the University of Edinburgh (UK), Dr. Pernagallo's expertise spans multiple disciplines.
Since joining DESTINA in 2012, he has made significant contributions to the company's growth and success. Starting as a senior scientist, he quickly progressed to become the Product Development Manager and currently serves as the Operations Director. In this role, Dr. Pernagallo effectively manages DESTINA's operational aspects, ensuring alignment with company policies, goals, and objectives. He plays a crucial role in identifying new product and application opportunities, driving the development of DESTINA's technology, and managing collaborative projects.
Within the ColoMARK project, Dr. Pernagallo assumes the responsibility of Project Supervisor for PhD6 and Co-Supervisor for PhD7. His leadership and expertise will play a vital role in the advancement of the project's goals and objectives, furthering the development of innovative solutions in cancer diagnostics.
Dr. Meritxell Gironella is a PI Biomedical Researcher in the Gastrointestinal and Pancreatic Oncology Research Team from FRCB-IDIBAPS/CIBER (Barcelona, Spain). She holds a BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a PhD in Biomedicine from Universitat de Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) and carried out a 3-years post-doc in Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM, France). She has over 24 years of experience in biomedical research. She has been leading the research line about ‘MicroRNAs in digestive diseases’ since 2008. For the past 15 years, her efforts have been mainly focused on the funcional study of microRNAs in pancreatic and colon cancer and on the potential use of circulating miRNAs in liquid biopsies as new biomarkers for early detection and clinical management of these cancers. She has led 16 public and private projects as PI and has published 65 scientific articles (95% in Q1 journals), main author in 24. Moreover, she also has experience in innovation and technology transfer given that she is inventor in eight patent applications related to this topic, five of them licensed to companies to develop commercial products with application and impact in human health. She has experience in supervising students at various levels and she has directed 7 PhD, 4 Master and 4 BSc Thesis. She annually participates in teaching activities of two Master Programs from University of Barcelona (Biomedicine, Translational Medicine). H-index=34, Total citations>3550 (Scopus, last update January 2023). In ColoMARK Meritxell Gironella is project supervisor of DC7 and Co-supervisor of DC9.
Dr. Rui Neves, a senior associate researcher, is an integral part of the Experimental Surgical Oncology group, led by Prof. Nikolas H. Stoecklein, within the Department of General, Visceral, and Pediatric Surgery, overseen by Prof. Wolfram T. Knoefel. With a Biochemistry degree from the University of Coimbra (Portugal) in 2003 and a Ph.D. from the Heinrich-Heine University Dusseldorf (Germany) in 2008, Dr. Neves has a strong academic background.
Throughout his career, Dr. Neves has focused on understanding the genetic and epigenetic drivers of tumor dissemination and metastasis. His research centers on rare metastases precursor cells, such as disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) and circulating tumor cells (CTCs). He has played a key role in developing optimized methods and workflows to isolate and characterize these exceptionally rare cells at the single-cell level.
Currently, Dr. Neves employs improved in-house protocols to unravel the (epi)genetic heterogeneity of systemic tumors. He investigates changes in the clonal architecture of the CTC population during the course of therapies, aiming to gain insights into disease progression and therapeutic resistance.
Within the ColoMARK project, Dr. Neves serves as the supervisor for the PhD8 project. His expertise and dedication will contribute significantly to the advancement of innovative approaches in cancer diagnostics.
Dr. van Wezel, an associated professor at Leiden University Medical Centre, specializes in molecular tumor genetics of colorectal cancer. With extensive experience, including over 200 peer-reviewed papers and supervision of 12 PhD students, he is highly regarded in the field. As the head of the unit of molecular diagnostics, he plays a vital role in clinical molecular pathology.
Dr. van Wezel's research focuses on enhancing tumor diagnostics, identifying therapeutic targets, and understanding the genetic basis of cancer through a tumor-first approach. Recent studies in lung cancer have utilized targeted DNA and RNA sequencing to diagnose, identify therapeutic targets, and detect biomarkers related to therapy resistance (Cohen et al., 2020; Hondelink et al., 2021). His work has also revealed germline mutations in BRCA1 or 2 among ovarian cancer patients and explored mutational signatures in genetically unexplained cancers (de Jonge et al., 2018; Drost et al., 2017; Elsayed et al., 2020; Grolleman et al., 2019). Furthermore, he has made significant contributions to understanding genetically unexplained suspected cancer syndromes using somatic and mosaic mutation signatures (Jansen et al., 2016; Schubert et al., 2020; Terlouw et al., 2020; Terlouw et al., 2019).
Within the ColoMARK project, Dr. van Wezel serves as the supervisor for the PhD9 project and co-supervisor of PhD8, bringing his expertise to advance the understanding of colorectal cancer.
Dr. Barbara Pardini, an early PI at the Molecular and Epigenetic Research Unit lab in IIGM, has made significant contributions to the field of cancer research. With a PhD in Microbiology and Genetics from the University of Pisa, she has pursued postdoctoral training at renowned institutions such as the Institute of Experimental Medicine in Prague and the IIGM foundation. Dr. Pardini was also awarded a Fulbright scholarship, which allowed her to conduct research in the laboratory of Prof. George Calin at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.
Her research focuses on utilizing non-coding RNAs, particularly microRNAs, as biomarkers for cancer detection in non-invasive biospecimens. She specializes in gastrointestinal and urinary cancers and has expertise in next-generation sequencing techniques, including exome sequencing, smallRNA sequencing, RNA sequencing, and shotgun metagenomic sequencing. Dr. Pardini also employs omic-wide strategies such as GWAS, TWAS, and MWAS. She is actively involved in exploring the intersection between transcriptomics and liquid biopsy approaches for early cancer detection and treatment.
Within the ColoMARK project, Dr. Pardini serves as the co-supervisor for the PhD6 project hosted at Destina, contributing her expertise to advance the understanding of cancer.