News and events

ESR Mobility: University of Rijeka, Croatia

ESR1, Raluca Neagoe (Ale), has completed a 10 week secondment at the University of Rijeka in Croatia. Ale was working in Antonija Begonja’s lab over the summer, before returning to the University of Birmingham in August. During the secondment Ale was:

1) Visualising PIP2 distribution and downstream signalling events in mouse bone marrow-derived megakaryocytes and human platelets spread on different substrates +/- pharmacological intervention.

2) Determining platelet receptor GPVI association with the actin cytoskeleton using ultracentrifugation.

3) Establishing a Rac1 knock out human megakaryocyte-like cell line (HEL cells) using CRISPR technology

4) Visiting the beach at weekends

Maastricht visits USC

On the first week of September Prof. Johan Heemskerk and the TAPAS student Delia Fernández, from Maastricht University, visited Prof. Ángel García’s lab at CIMUS, Santiago de Compostela, to set up the fluorescence microscopy-based platelet flow-adhesion assay using the Maastricht microfluidics chamber. The technology was set up successfully thanks to the team effort and hard work carried out during two intense days by Johan, Delia and the platelet team at Santiago. This new technology will benefit all TAPAS students coming to CIMUS and will strengthen the collaboration between Johan and Ángel’s groups. At the same time both Johan and Delia had the opportunity to get to know CIMUS and enjoy some time in Santiago de Compostela.

First TAPAS Publication

June 2019 saw the publication of the first TAPAS publication. Congratulations to first authors; Natalie J. Jooss, Ilaria De Simone, Isabella Provenzale, Delia I. Fernández, who are all TAPAS early stage researchers at the Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM), Maastricht University.

Journal: International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Special Issue Molecular and Cellular Basis of Thrombotic Disease
Jooss, N.J.; De Simone, I.; Provenzale, I.; Fernández, D.I.; Brouns, S.L.; Farndale, R.W.; Henskens, Y.M.; Kuijpers, M.J.; ten Cate, H.; van der Meijden, P.E.; Cavill, R.; Heemskerk, J.W. Role of Platelet Glycoprotein VI and Tyrosine Kinase Syk in Thrombus Formation on Collagen-Like Surfaces. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 2788.

Photo from left to right: Delia Fernández, Ilaria De Simone, Isabella Provenzale, Natalie Jooss.

USC visit to Maastricht

Recently Prof. Ángel García and Luis Moran (ESR15), from the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), visited Prof Johan Heemskerk’s lab at Maastricht University (UM) to discuss TAPAS research and see a demonstration with the Maastricht flow chamber.

Photo from left to right: Ilaria De Simone, Delia I. Fernández, Prof Johan Heemskerk, Prof Ángel García, Luis Moran, Isabella Provenzale.

TAPAS Coordinator Visits Uni of Santiago

In April 19, TAPAS Coordinator, Prof Steve Watson, visited Prof. Ángel García’s lab at the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), for a tour of facilities at the Platelet Proteomics Group at the Center for Research in Molecular Medicine and Chronic Diseases (CIMUS) and to give a seminar. The successful trip was also used to discuss the TAPAS collaboration between USC and Birmingham and to help prepare for the exchange of students between the universities that will happen next year. Steve would like to emphasise the world leading facilities and fantastic hospitality in Santiago.

Maastricht Consensus Conference on Thrombosis (MCCT)

13th -15th February 2019

Post from Delia Fernandez (ESR12)

After the TAPAS Early Spring School, the Maastricht Consensus Conference on Thrombosis (MCCT) followed. Both events took place in Maastricht (NL). These events where a great occasion for all the ESRs to gather again, share the progress of their projects, and welcome some new faces (ESRs Hilaire and Chu). Although short, it prepared us for the first conference for most of us. The Maastricht Consensus Conference on Thrombosis 2019 (MCCT) celebrated its third edition. The theme of this year was “Thrombo-inflammation and cardiovascular disease”, which naturally fits perfectly with the topic of our TAPAS-ITN and therefore with all our projects.

The conference was organized into 4 themes:

  1. 1. How to handle prevention of coronary thrombosis

2. Peripheral artery disease: a thromboinflammatory disorder?

3. Ischemia-reperfusion injury: implications for stroke and

4. Venous thromboembolism: late complications and association with arterial vascular disease?

All the themes were covered by talks, followed by a workshop. A plenary symposium about the hot topics was held on the last day. Exceptional scientists attended this meeting such as Prof Steve Watson and Dr Wolfgang Bergmeier, to highlight some of them, who gave brilliant talks related to platelet signalling. Not only basic science was covered, but also many clinical scientists presented their research and introduced us to the difficulties of finding the perfect tools to tackle cardiovascular disease in the clinic.

After the talks, a workshop allowed some discussion on the topics presented earlier and it was when the audience had the possibility to ask questions. This made the conference surprisingly interactive and it was here where the active role of the PhD students was highlighted. The PhD students helped the speakers by guiding the discussion and taking the minutes. After the workshop a consensus discussion was held in which the PhD students presented what was discussed in the different workshops. In general, presenting someone’s research work was quite challenging for the PhD students. Nevertheless, it was a magnificent opportunity to meet many researchers from the thrombosis field.

Moreover, the discussion from the workshops, together with the talks, will be combined into a consensus document of the meeting that will be published in an international journal. In the report, the state-of-the-art and the opportunities for further research will be mentioned. The most exciting outcome will be the collaborations generated due to the talks during the meeting between different research groups!


ESR Workshop 1: TAPAS Concepts

Welcome to the Early Stage Researchers!

In October 2018 the University of Birmingham, hosted the first TAPAS ESR Workshop, with support from PIs from the University of Reading and project partner Nikon. The two-day workshop aimed to introduce the ESRs to the network with a series of presentations, including a session where the ESRs introduced themselves and their project, an introduction to imaging from project partner Nikon, which was complimented a computer-based session. There was also a team building activity, where the students attended a chocolate masterclass and made chocolate truffles with a local master chocolatier. We hope everyone enjoyed getting to know each other and learning more about TAPAS. The next ESR training workshop will take place in July 2019 in Wurzburg.

TAPAS Kick Off Meeting

Meet the Team

January 2018 marked the kick off of the EU funded project Targeting Platelet Adhesion Receptors in Thrombosis (TAPAS), a 4 year, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network. TAPAS is a consortium of 7 European countries, led by the University of Birmingham, along with 7 beneficiaries and 6 partners from the UK, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Croatia and Hungary.

TAPAS will train a uniquely-qualified cohort of 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in a highly intersectoral and multi-disciplinary programme of work which will tackle the problem of thrombosis (blood clots) which can lead to heart attack and stroke and contributes to an estimated 40% of cardiovascular deaths in the EU, and costs over €200 billion a year to the EU economy. Current therapy in the prevention of arterial thrombotic events includes drugs that suppress the function of a specialised blood cell called a platelet, which is necessary for preventing bleeding but whose unregulated or inappropriate activation can lead to thrombosis. Whilst this treatment plan is effective in a large proportion of patients, it is not perfect and some patients experience further thrombotic episodes, bleeding problems or even death. The research that the TAPAS researchers will undertake will combining innovative approaches and develop new expertise to identify, understand and test new targets on blood platelets for the selective prevention and treatment of thrombotic diseases.

As a European Joint Doctorate, each Early Stage Researcher will graduate with a Joint PhD from two Institutions. Through this exciting and ambitious collaboration, the skills and knowledge gained by the ESRs will open up major career opportunities in cardiovascular and other areas of biomedical research, as well as in diverse fields ranging from research innovation to science policy and communication.