Early Career Fellowship Programme

Human Technopole’s Early Career Fellowship Programme is designed for researchers of all nationalities who have completed their PhD and whose projects are focused on one of the Institute’s areas of research: Genomics Neurogenomics, Computational Biology, Structural Biology and Health Data Science.

Through the ECF Programme, up to five young researchers are awarded a grant worth 200.000 EUR/year for five years to support their research programme.

The initiative is in line with Human Technopole’s mission to be an open and collaborative research centre making its resources and infrastructures available to the entire national community.

Questions regarding the ECF Programme can be addressed to: earlycareerfellows@fht.org.

Applications are reviewed based on their competitiveness and coherence with Human Technopole’s research areas. Selected projects are evaluated by committees of internationally renowned experts, mainly external to HT, in the relevant fields of research, including an expert appointed by the Italian Ministry of University and Research.The assessment of candidates will be based on their excellence and merit, together with their research programme and the eligibility of the Host Institution.

The selection process

All applicants should:

  • hold a doctoral degree and have no more than 8 years of experience from the date of its award;
  • not hold a long-term position at Universities or IRCCS and/or a position as Group Leader;
  • have carried out their latest research activities independently of their PhD supervisor and, in any case, at a different institution than the one attended during their doctorate;
  • have identified a Host Institution in Italy willing to provide the necessary facilities, equipment, and infrastructure tand to support the career development of the PI. The Host Institution must be different from the one where the applicant is currently working.

The 2021 fellows

Federico Rossi – www.rossilab.iit.it

35 years old from Arezzo, Italy. Previously at University College London in the United Kingdom, Federico will develop his project at the Italian Institute of Technology – Centre for Neuroscience and Cognitive Systems in Rovereto (TN). Leveraging methods to map the gene expression, anatomy, and function of individual neurons in the brain with unprecedented precision, he will investigate the functional diversity of the cellular components wiring the brain circuits that coordinate vision and movement. Using this model system, his research will discover to what extent neural specialization is determined by genes or by functional plasticity, revealing general principles that govern the architecture of the nervous system.

Elisa Araldi

37-year-old from Pavia, he was awarded a tenure-track position at the University of Parma. She helped show that cholesterol intermediates are not only the building blocks of the anabolic process that creates cholesterol and other sterols, but are also molecules with as yet unknown biological functions. With the ECF grant, Elisa aims to map the function of cholesterol biosynthesis intermediates in biological and pathological processes, and to develop targeted approaches to modulate them.

The 2020 fellows

Increasingly effective drugs for COVID-19, new therapies against brain tumours, understanding why the brain of primates is much more refined than that of other animals, the role of the alteration of the immune system in the onset of serious neurological disorders and the study of the microbiome’s ability to protect the human body from infection by harmful microorganisms: these are the ambitious aims of the first edition winning projects.

The applications were reviewed based on their competitiveness and coherence with Human Technopole’s research areas. According to these criteria, nine projects for genomics, seven for neurogenomics, five for structural biology and two for computational biology, passed the pre-selection phase.

The resulting 23 projects were evaluated, strictly based on scientific merit, by panels of internationally renowned experts in the relevant fields of research. The committees were mostly composed of scientists external to HT and included an expert appointed by the Italian Ministry of University and Research.

The research will not be developed directly at Human Technopole but carried out at other Italian research institutes and Universities.

Here are the winning applicants of the first ECF call:

Veronica Krenn – @krenn_veronica

36 years old from Oggiono (LC). Previously at the Institute for Molecular Biotechnology in Vienna, she will develop her project at Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca in Milan. By integrating functional genomics and innovative profiling methods and using induced pluripotent stem cells to constitute three-dimensional brain organoids, she aims to understand the role of different components of the immune system in the onset of neurodevelopmental diseases.

Mirko Cortese – @mirkocortese

36 years old from Naples. Previously at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, he will develop his research project at the Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine (TIGEM) in Naples. By integrating virology, molecular biology, cell biology and imaging, he intends to better understand the mechanisms by which the SARS-CoV-2 infection leads to disease. His findings will on the one hand be useful to develop new drugs against COVID-19, and will also help reveal new properties of cellular processes involved in other diseases including multifactorial and genetic diseases.

Carmen Falcone – @CarmenFalcone6

32 years old from Nocera Inferiore (SA). Previously at the University of California, Davis, she will develop her project at the Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA) in Trieste. By combining knowledge in the fields of neurogenomics, bioinformatics and electrophysiology, she will investigate the characteristics which make the brain of primates capable of advanced functions. Special attention will be given to the role of a particular type of brain cells, the interlaminar astrocytes, in creating the neural connectivity of the primate cerebral cortex.

Gabriele Micali – micalilab.com

33 years old from Milan. Previously at the ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich) and at eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology), he will develop his project at the Humanitas research hospital in Milan. By integrating mathematical models and single-cell microbiology experiments, he intends to deepen the knowledge of the human microbiota, the populations of bacteria that live symbiotically within our body. His research aims to identify the mechanisms by which these populations protect humans from colonisation by harmful microorganisms. The long-term goal is to uncover the link between the gut microbiome bacteria’s composition and functions and human health.

Dafne Campigli Di Giammartino

42 years old from Florence. Previously at the Weill Cornell Medical School in New York, she will develop her research project at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) in Genova. Through genomics, proteomics and epigenetic engineering tools, she intends to study the 3D structure of chromatin, the substance that forms the nucleus of cells and contains genetic information, in pluripotent stem cells and cancer stem cells. This will potentially allow for the development of new therapies against cancer, with a particular focus on brain tumours.