Marie Curie research training project on Osteoarthritis

Short Bios of the Fellows

Abdullah Khalid. I did my Bachelor’s in Microbiology from Government College University, Lahore (PK) with Academic Roll of Honor (Gold Medal) followed by a Master’s in Molecular Biology from University of Debrecen (HU) under Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship. My final year thesis was on “Trained Immunity” with emphasis on the molecular reprogramming of the non-classical innate cells.
Being motivated to do something innovative in the field of molecular biology, I intended to join a group where I can come up with impactful research. Thus, I developed my goals to serve as a bridge between academia and industry to transfer and implement the new findings and joined MSCA-ESR position at the Department of Orthopedics Surgery of the Maastricht University (NL) under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Tim Welting and Dr. Marjolein Caron.
We aim to develop a combinatory approach by identifying novel therapeutic peptides that target intracellular OA-pathological processes and optimize peptides for delivery and cell penetration of cell types relevant to the articular joint.

Amin Abrishamkar is a PhD student in the department of orthopedic surgery at Maastricht University. Amin has received his B.Sc. degree in Mechanical Engineering and M.Sc. degree in Biomechanical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Iran. He furthered his studies through a European double-degree program, earning another M.Sc. degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Groningen and RWTH Aachen University. Amin joined OSTASKILLS as a PhD student in October 2022. His work centers around the development of innovative therapies for the management of osteoarthritis, with a specific emphasis on cartilage resurfacing implants designed to treat focal cartilage defects in the knee join. These defects can cause further damage to the joint and eventually lead to the onset of osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that affects a considerable portion of the population. Amin’s research is important because it addresses a significant and widespread medical concern – osteoarthritis. The potential outcomes of Amin’s research not only promise to improve the quality of life for this growing patient population, but also to play a crucial role in preventing the progression of the disease.

Atharva Damle I am a Masters’ graduate in Biotechnology from India with a keen interest in interdisciplinary
translational biomedical research. During my time at the Cartilage Engineering lab (University- Hospital Basel) as an OSTASKILLS fellow, we aim to develop a cartilage graft, combining nasal chondrocytes (NC) as regenerative component with the protection of such component, through matrix around the cells and the anti-inflammatory signal IL-1 Receptor antagonist. An advanced organotypic in vitro loading system will be used to investigate the interactions between the NCgraft and osteoarthritic (OA) synoviocytes. The proposed research will acquire crucial information about the biology of NC and will provide the necessary pre-clinical data for the potential use of the proposed NC preparation in OA.

Laura Mecchi. I am from Italy, where I graduated with a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering at Politecnico di Milano. I studied the effect of radiation cancer treatment on blood vessels during my Master thesis and later I worked in the field of cartilage regeneration research. I have always been interested in studying new methodologies and approaches for the improvement of patient care and disease treatments and this is the main reason I applied to join the OSTASKILLS consortium. I am currently doing my PhD at one of the host institutions of the consortium, the AO Research Institute in Davos, Switzerland.

Viviana Reyes was born in Mexico City. After obtaining a B.Sc. in Mechatronics Engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), she worked in the industry (FIAT) for three years as a safety engineer. In the early 2022, she earned a M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering from the Polytechnic of Milan, Italy. Right after, she was employed for a few months as a technical assistant at the Department of Biomaterials and Biofabrication Laboratory "Giulio Natta" at the Polytechnic of Milan.
In October 2022, Viviana obtained a prestigious doctoral position in the OSTASKILLS consortium and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. studies at the Department of Musculoskeletal Tissue Regeneration, Orthopedic Hospital "König Ludwig Haus" & Julius-Maximilians-University in Würzburg, Germany. Her research primarily focuses on investigating the roles of Chondromodulin-1 (Cnmd), a cartilage-specific gene, in mitigating OA progression and thus its potential to aspire the development of novel therapeutic cues for OA.
Beyond her scientific interests, Viviana enjoys indoor gardening, singing and embarking on exciting travels with her friends around the globe.

Nguyen Xuan Thanh Le (Thanh Le) is a PhD candidate in the Department of BioEngineering at the University of Twente. Thanh was born in Vietnam where she received her Bachelor's degree in Biotechnology from Can Tho University. In 2021, she pursued her Master's Degree in Nanomaterials at Gachon University, Korea. She joined the Ostaskills as a PhD candidate and started her work at the University of Twente in May 2022. Her project focuses on developing a Cartilage-on-chip (CoC) platform with a specific emphasis on hydrogel selection and investigation.  A suitable injectable hydrogel scaffold is crucial in developing a CoC since it should provide a natural cartilage-like extracellular matrix that helps promote chondrocyte proliferation and cartilage matrix formation. The outcome of her research will propose an in vitro model for further studies of cartilage inflammation as well as osteoarthritis.   

Carolina Serrano Larrea. Carolina, originally from Cuenca, Ecuador, is a Biomedical Engineering graduate with honors from Yachay Tech University. She continued her academic journey by completing the Erasmus Mundus Master EMOTION program at the Piemonte Orientale University in Italy and the Miguel Hernadez University in Spain. During her educational journey, she undertook research internships in various countries, including Ecuador, Portugal, Spain, and Brazil.
In the entrepreneurial sphere, Carolina was the Co-Founder & CEO of GelWear, a company specializing in eco-friendly diapers for babies and adults, as well as sanitary napkins. Her commitment to sustainability and innovation has been acknowledged through distinctions such as being recognized as an Innovator Under 35 by MIT Technology Review and winning the global Hult Prize competition.
Beyond her academic and entrepreneurial pursuits, Carolina actively supports organizations focused on encouraging girls in science and STEAM fields. Carolina's commitment to fostering diversity and equal opportunities reflects her broader dedication to making a positive impact on society by inspiring and empowering the next generation of scientists and innovators.
Currently, Carolina is part of the OSTASKILL consortium, working as Ph.D. candidate at the University of Twente. Her research is focused on developing new therapeutic strategies and organ-on-chip platforms for the treatment of Osteoarthritis.