Online discussion club (ODC) initiative

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The Young EuNet-INNOCHRON Committee is proud to announce the Online Discussion Club initiative. 

Online Discussion Club will be a unique opportunity for young EuNet-INNOCHRON members to present their future or running projects with short online communications open to all EuNet-INNOCHRON members (both young and senior). This should allow young members to exchange views on their projects with other members, possibly finding new collaborations. During the Online Discussion Club initiative, a schedule of incoming funding opportunities for young investigators will be presented as well, to possibly gather research teams interested in. Announcement and registration forms will be available on the EuNet-INNOCHRON web page.

Specific aims of Online Discussion Club:

  • Presentation and discussion of planned or running research projects from the Young EuNet-INNOCHRON members
  • Establishment of cooperation and collaboration for grant proposals, and research projects
  • Overview of funding opportunities, terms and conditions, scholarships in frame
  • Brainstorming to develop innovation and problem solving

Each presentation is allowed at most 20 minutes, plus 10 minutes for constructive discussion. Experts in the field of the presented subjects will be eventually invited (EuNet-INNOCHRON committee may invite external experts). An additional Q&A session (10-15 minutes) will be considered.

A further “Workshop on how to write grant proposal - tips and tricks” will be planned within the Online Discussion Club evets.

Online Discussion Club will be conducted through ZOOM platform once a month, and links to each event will be sent by email to all EuNet-INNOCHRON members.

Young EuNet-INNOCHRON members who wish to present their projects/proposals should contact the Young EuNet-INNOCHRON Committee by sending an email to the following addresses: and

A specific mailing list will be created in order to update all members on the progress of work.

When does it start?

The first ODC is planned on Thursday 6 May 2021 at 15:00 CEST.


All Young EuNet-INNOCHRON members (PhD students, research fellow, Early Career Investigators (under 40 years old or having obtained a PhD no more than 8 years) are highly encouraged to apply to this initiative. 

Online Discussion Club Presentations

  • July 22th, 2021, 15:00 - 16:30 CEST

    Online Discussion Club (ODC) by the Young-EuNet-INNOCHRON

    July 22th, 2021, 15:00 - 16:30 CEST

    Topic: "Identification of causative variants in patients with genetically unclassified severe congenital neutropenia using iPSCs and CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing"

    Presentation by:
    Dr. Maksim Klimiankou
    Division of Translational Oncology
    Department of Oncology, Hematology, Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology
    University Hospital Tübingen, Germany

    Valentino Bezzerri, PhD
    Head of the preclinical Research Lab
    Cystic Fibrosis Center, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Ospedali, Riuniti, Ancona

    Zoom link:

  • June 24th, 2021, 15:00 - 16:30 CEST

    Online Discussion Club (ODC) by the Young-EuNet-INNOCHRON

    June 24th, 2021, 15:00 - 16:30 CEST

    Topic: "Studying the immune deregulation in Chronic Idiopathic Neutropenia (CIN): Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells (MDSCs) and T regulatory cells (T-regs)"

    Presentation by:
    Nikoleta Bizymi, MD, MSc, PhDc,
    Haemopoiesis Research Laboratory, Medical School, University of Crete, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

    Invited Moderator: 
    Panagiotis Verginis, PhD
    Associate Professor of Biochemistry, Medical School, University of Crete
    Affiliated Researcher in ΙΜΒΒ-FORTH

    Valentino Bezzerri, PhD
    Head of the preclinical Research Lab
    Cystic Fibrosis Center, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Ospedali, Riuniti, Ancona

    Zoom link:


    "Studying the immune deregulation in Chronic Idiopathic Neutropenia (CIN): Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells (MDSCs) and T regulatory cells (T-regs)"

    Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells (MDSCs) are a heterogeneous population of immature immunoregulatory myeloid cells, which are elevated in various human diseases that involve chronic inflammation and tumor progression. They are divided in two subpopulations, HLA-DRlow/-CD11b+CD33+CD15+ (polymorphonuclear-PMN-MDSCs) and HLA-DRlow/-CD11b+CD33+CD14+ (monocytic-M-MDSCs). Through activation of the enzymes arginase 1 and nitric oxide synthase 2, and production of reactive oxygen species, they lead to suppression of T‑cell proliferation, inhibition of natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity, modulation of macrophage polarization and induction of development of regulatory T-cells (T-regs). T-regs suppress also the T-cell responses and are important for the immune homeostasis. (Bronte et al. Nat Commun 2016, Bruger et al. Cancer Immunol Immunother 2019, Bizymi et al. HemaSphere 2019)

    Chronic Idiopathic Neutropenia (CIN) is the prolonged, otherwise unexplained reduction in the number of PMN below the lower limit of the normal range. The main pathogenetic mechanism for CIN implicates the increased, Fas-mediated apoptosis of the CD34+/CD33+ myeloid progenitor cells. Chronic inflammation driven by an inhibitory bone marrow (BM) microenvironment consisting of activated T-lymphocytes (oligoclonal profile) and pro-inflammatory mediators (TNF-α, TGF-b1, Fas-ligand, IFN-γ, IL-1b, and IL-6) is also involved. Data from our lab have shown that CD14++/CD16+ monocyte subpopulation is increased in patients, which can be associated with the enhanced antigen presentation and T-cells over-activation in the disease. (Bizymi et al. J Clin Immunol 2019)

    Our study aims to explore, besides the pro-inflammatory factors, the possible involvement of these immuno-regulatory cell populations in the pathogenesis of CIN, through the investigation of their number and functional characteristics in CIN patients compared to healthy subjects.

  • May 6th, 2021, 15:00 - 16:30 CET

    Online Discussion Club (ODC) by the Young-EuNet-INNOCHRON

    May 6th, 2021, 15:00- 16:30 CEST

    Topic: "Lab-on-chip for studying Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome"

    Presentation by: Nora Selicato, Research fellow,
    Cystic Fibrosis Center of Verona, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Integrata,Verona, Italy
    CNR NANOTEC – Institute of Nanotechnology, Lecce, Italy

    Invited Moderator: Dr Alessandro Polini,
    Principal Investigator
    CNR NANOTEC - Istituto di Nanotecnologia del CNR, Lecce, Italy

    Organizer: Dr Valentino Bezzerri
    Head of the preclinical Research Lab
    Cystic Fibrosis Center, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Ospedali Riuniti, Ancona

    Zoom link:


    Lab-on-chip for studying Shwachman-Diamond syndrome mechanisms

    Shwachman-Diamond syndrome (SDS) is a rare inherited multisystemic syndrome characterized by bone marrow failure, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, skeletal dysplasia, failure to thrive, associated with juvenile myelodysplastic syndrome and high risk of leukemic transformation. 1 SDS is mainly caused by mutations in the Shwachman-Bodian-Diamond Syndrome (SBDS) gene (located on chromosome 7q11.22) encoding a protein involved in ribosomal biogenesis.2

    There is no cure for SDS and the treatment is based on managing the symptoms.

    One of the pathogenetic hallmark of the SDS patients is the impaired neutrophil and monocyte chemotaxis defect, that was previously studied with traditional cell migration assays, which cannot provide the temporal and spatial control of the chemical gradients, neither study the single cell behaviour. 3,4

    In this project we would like to generate a lab-on-chip as a tool for a reduced scale chemotaxis assay, easy to use. It should represent a new research platform for in vitro drug screening in SDS primary cell lines.

    Lab-on-chips are able to overcome the limitations of traditional chemotaxis assays due the advantage of visualization, precise control of the chemical gradient and small consumption of reagents.5

    We fabricated a flow-free microfluidic prototype with three different perfusable compartments with distinct inlets and outlets, interconnected through a series of parallel microchannels that can be used to control cell migration on chip. The platform has been fabricated by multi-level photolithography and PDMS replica molding. Gradient profiles were previously evaluated to ensure an adequate time to perform the chemotaxis experiments and a preliminary cell line was used to set up the device for the purpose of this study.

    The final aim of this project will be to evaluate a drug candidate potential in restoring the chemotaxis of SDS primary mononuclear cells (MNCs).


    1. Shimamura A. Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome. Semin Hematol. 2006;43(3):178-188. doi:10.1053/j.seminhematol.2006.04.006
    2. Bezzerri V, Cipolli M. Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome: Molecular Mechanisms and Current Perspectives. Mol Diagnosis Ther. 2019;23(2):281-290. doi:10.1007/s40291-018-0368-2
    3. Orelio C, Kuijpers TW. Shwachman-diamond syndrome neutrophils have altered chemoattractant- Induced F-actin polymerization and polarization characteristics. Haematologica. 2009;94(3):409-413. doi:10.3324/haematol.13733
    4. Dror Y, Ginzberg H, Dalal I, et al. Immune function in patients with Shwachman-Diamond syndrome. Br J Haematol. 2001;114(3):712-717. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2141.2001.02996.x
    5. Zhao W, Zhao H, Li M, Huang C. Microfluidic devices for neutrophil chemotaxis studies. J Transl Med. 2020;18(1):1-19. doi:10.1186/s12967-020-02335-7