Travel grant winner: Ana Isabel Matos
Last week we announced the first two winners of our travel grant and poster award and promised that we would share their research aims with you. This week, we’re going to speak with Ana Isabel Matos (travel grant recipient).
I was curious to find out more about her research, here is what Ana had to say:
Please tell us which conference you would like to travel to and where/when it will be held?
I am very interested in the 2017 Cancer Nanotechnology Gordon Research Conference that will be held in Mount Snow, West Dover, VT, between 18-23 June, 2017.
Please tell us about your research:
Per year, colorectal cancer is responsible for 655,000 deaths throughout the world. Almost 70 % of colorectal cancer patients are diagnosed with the metastatic form of the disease, mainly hepatic metastases, and present a very low 5-years survival rate. The heterogeneity of cancer cells has impaired the successful outcome of several therapeutic approaches, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, requiring effective combinatorial approaches. Immunotherapeutic approaches have shown very positive outcomes in other disseminated malignant diseases. However, an effective strategy against the heterogeneous population of cancer cells requires a combinatory strategy to modulate different cells and mechanisms involved in tumor growth and dissemination. Since the end of last year, I have been involved in a very interesting and interdisciplinary PhD project that aims to develop a combinatorial multivalent nanoplatform for colorectal cancer immunotherapy and drug delivery. Going into detail, this project is focused on the design of two types of polymeric nanoparticles able to carry different active molecules (e.g. tumor associated antigens and immune modulators) and to target and modulate distinct cell populations, mainly dendritic cells and tumor cells within the tumor microenvironment. This highly innovative nanoplatform will lead to a safe multivalent nanomedicine able to modulate tumor microenvironment at different levels by combining the effect of a cytotoxic drug at cancer site with a balanced and multi-targeted immunotherapy, which overall outcome can constitute a real hope for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer disease. During the last year, I had the opportunity to develop and characterize a promising nanosystem. Accordingly, I have learnt how to apply multiple but complementary techniques to achieve a deep characterization of nanoparticle physicochemical properties, including mean diameter, polydispersity index, surface charge, hydrophobicity and stability. In addition, the characterization of the interaction of these delivery systems with antigen presenting cells, namely dendritic cells, was also one of our major goals. As a result, I could extend my expertise in cell culture, confocal microscopy and flow cytometry.
How does your research apply to the topics of discussion at the above mentioned conference? (min 250 words)
The 2017 Cancer Nanotechnology Gordon Research Conference, as the title suggests, provides an excellent opportunity for scientists and PhD students that are working in the field of innovative cancer research
What do you hope to learn/gain from attending this conference? (min 250 words)
The Gordon Research Conference provides a great chance for graduate students, post-docs, and early-career scientists with different levels of knowledge and expertise to get involved in a highly-stimulating and gratifying scientific environment. Particularly for PhD students, this huge conference is a unique opportunity to increase the scientific background in cancer nanotechnology through the deep sharing of recent scientific researches during the expected breakthrough talks. This conference also enables PhD students to present and discuss their current and unpublished scientific research with worldwide team leaders of cancer nanotechnology scientific community. This previously referred aspect is perhaps the most important for a PhD student because it certainly will have a direct effect on the progression of the research project by engaging in scientific discussions and exchanging personal opinions with leading scientists. Looking forward to the future, the Gordon Research Conference can be the precursor of informal networks that can lead to a lifetime scientific collaborations and attainments, by meeting face-to-face scientific leaders from all around the world. Moreover, these informal networks with team leaders and their students can probably create the opportunity for the PhD students to travel to another scientific laboratory anywhere in the world and gain experience in a particular area or technique developed and explored in that laboratory. For all these reasons previously mentioned and taking into account my desire to continue to learn and get more experience in cancer nanotechnology area, I view with great self-motivation and enthusiasm the possibility to attend the 2017 Cancer Nanotechnology Gordon Research Conference by integrating this travel grant.
Don’t miss our blog next week, where we’ll find out more from Carlos Perez Arques (winner of the poster award) about his research aims. Until then, have a great week!