Ilias Koutsopetras, PhD student at the University of Strasbourg in Synthetic Chemistry on Research project #1 “Use of multicomponent reactions as a site-specific method in bioconjugation”

I graduated from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2015. I then continued my master’s studies in chemistry for drug discovery at the University of Bath, UK and I carried out my master’s thesis in the group of Pr. Steven Bull, working on the asymmetric synthesis of polyketides. I then joined for 2 years a Contract research organisation named Manchester Organics based in Runcorn, UK as a synthetic organic chemist. This experience was followed by a 1-year contract as a research chemist working on projects concerning syntheses of novel agro-chemicals for the leading agriculture company Syngenta based in Stein, Switzerland. I started my PhD in chemical biology at the University of Strasbourg, France within the TACT project on October 1st, 2020.

Lorenzo Turelli, PhD student at the University of Strasbourg, France in Synthetic Chemistry on Research project #2 “Traceless linkers for specific lysosomal release of native drugs”

I took my Master’s degree in Organic Chemistry at the Università di Pisa (IT) after having carried out my thesis project at the University of Leipzig (DE) on the synthesis of Artemisin precursors. I then carried out an internship at the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Lisbon (PT) on the synthesis of novel enantiopure indolizinoindolone derivatives. Prior embracing this PhD at the University of Strasbourg (FR) within the EU-funded TACT project, I worked as Research Scientist at Unilever R&D site in Liverpool (UK).

Rania Benazza, PhD student at the Centre national de recherche scientifique (CNRS), France in Mass Spectrometry on Research project #3 “New mass spectrometry-based approaches to Protein-Drug Conjugates characterisation at intant and middle-levels”

I started the first year of my Master’s degree in University of Sciences of Rabat in Morocco, and finished the second year in the University of Bordeaux in France, where I obtained a double diploma in an International Pharmaceutical Environmental Program, Analysis and Quality Control of Drugs. I always have been passionate about therapeutics development, that’s why I applied to the TACT project in a PhD in analytical chemistry, to characterize ADCs/PDCs using new mass spectrometry-based approaches to help develop the next generation medicine for cancer therapy.

Irene Shajan, PhD student at the Wageningen University and Research (WUR), Netherlands in Synthetic Chemistry on Research project #4 “The development of bispecific antibodies using chemoenzymatic tyrosine click chemistry”

I did my Bachelor’s in Chemistry and Master’s in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from Sacred Heart College, Cochin, India. Later I joined Indian Institute of Technology Palakkad as a Project Assistant where I gained experience in organic syntheses. Currently I work on the development of bispecific antibodies via chemoenzymatic site-specific antibody modifications within the project TACT from the EU programme Horizon2020.

Bianka Jackowska, PhD student at the Queen’s University of Belfast (QUB), United Kingdom in Nanomedicine on Research project #5 “Development of antibody-conjugated nanoparticles for the treatment of cancer”

I obtained my Master’s Degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology at “Sapienza” University of Rome. Over the last years of my studies, my primary academic interest focused on the practical application of medicinal chemistry, whilst my thesis project in applied Microbiology allowed me to gain more insight into translational research and cell biology, both under physiological and non-physiological conditions. 

Ana Carvalho, PhD student at the Queen’s University of Belfast (QUB), United Kingdom in Nanomedicine on Research project #6 “Development of novel antibody-nanoparticle conjugates”

I got my Master’s in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Coimbra in 2018 and since then I have been passionate about the idea of working in an interdisciplinary environment combining biomaterials and engineering skills to develop innovative medical solutions that can have a real impact in people’s lives. The field of nanomedicine applied to cancer therapy has been my main area of interest and led me to pursue my PhD at the Queen’s University Belfast, with the TACT project and a Marie Sklodowska Curie scholarship”.

Yağmur Ersoy, PhD student at the Technical University of Munich, Germany in Chemical Biology on Research project #7 “Development of anticalin drug conjugates (AcDC) as innovative cancer therapies”

“I finished my Bachelor’s in Molecular Biology and Genetics at Boğaziçi University, İstanbul, in 2018. Then I took my Masters in Chemical and Biological Engineering at Koç University, İstanbul, in 2018-2021. Then, I continued my research with my Master’s PI Dr. Cem Albayrak on site-specifically non-natural amino acid incorporation in enzymes using cell-free protein synthesis system. My MSc thesis title was “Towards Heterogeneous Biocatalysis of Glutathione Production by Selective Conjugation of Enzymes”. My scientific interests are mainly biotechnology and synthetic biology.”

Thomas Favraud, PhD student at the Queen’s University of Belfast (QUB) resident at Almac Discovery Ltd, United Kingdom on Research project #8 “Development of Technologies for the Next Generation Protein-drug Conjugates (PDC) with Improved Stability and Selectivity”

“I graduated in 2018 with a Master’s degree in Biotechnology Engineering with a master’s specialisation in Chemistry and Bioengineering from the École Nationale Supérieure de Technologie des Biomolécules de Bordeaux (ENSTBB). Then, I worked as a bioprocess development engineer in the biopharmaceutical industry until 2020. From the beginning of my career, I was deeply interested in multidisciplinary projects at the interface of chemistry and biology and in particular in the development of Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs) which, I believe, can be a game-changer in cancer treatment.”

Léa Rochet, PhD student at University College London (UCL), United Kingdom on Research project #9 “Formation of Next Generation Protein-Drug Conjugates using Pyridazinediones

While studying to obtain my Engineer diploma from CPE Lyon in France with a major in organic chemistry, I developed a strong interest in the Antibody-Drug Conjugates area through my different experiences at LifeArc (UK) and in Joelle Pelletier’s lab (Canada). There, I had the occasion to work at the interface of chemistry and biology and have since been driven to combine the advances in both disciplines to develop next-generation cancer treatments, which is the aim of the TACT ETN project.

Alessandra Totti, PhD student at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), resident at Heidelberg Pharma AG, Germany on Research project #10 “Alpha-amanitin in vivo inactivation strategies”

Ever since I was a little kid, science and discoveries have been my passion. This passion led me to study Biotechnologies and Pharmaceutical Biotechnologies at the University of Bologna. Thanks to my studies and different internships, I developed a great interest in biochemistry and cancer biology. Now, in the industry, I also have the opportunity to expand my research on new therapies that could change the future of cancer treatment. In particular, my main interest relies on implementing and optimizing new strategies to improve the therapeutic profile of anti-cancer ADCs.

Loïc Herter, PhD student at the University of Strasbourg (UNISTRA), resident at SpiroChem AG, Switzerland on Research project #11 “Synthesis of new anti-cancer drugs via bioisostere strategy”

After obtaining the French Baccalaureat, I studied two years in Strasbourg before going to Mulhouse for my Master’s and my Engineer’s degree. During this time, I went abroad during the 2nd year in the USA (UMass Amherst, Massachusetts) and to Janssen Pharmaceutica in Belgium for one year. After my master’s degree, I joined the TACT project for my PhD in organic synthesis.