Advancing Epigenetics Towards Systems Biology

Epigenesys activities

Announcing the awardees of the Second Open Call for Small Scale Collaborative Projects!

Monday 25 February 2013 - Monday 25 February 2013



Due to the high quality of the submitted proposals EpiGeneSys has decided to select not just one but three excellent proposals!

EpiGeneSys Small Scale Collaborative Projects provide early-stage scientists an opportunity to develop an idea for an independent project, write a proposal, and plan a budget—all as part of a competitive application process, reviewed by a panel of epigenetics and systems biology experts within the network. Each of the selected teams receives 10,000 EUR.

Find out about the awardees and their projects!

Role of Polycomb in metabolic regulation during stem cell differentiation

This project studies how Polycomb proteins regulate metabolism. For this, the team will use a Systems Biology approach, based on the analysis of the genomic changes after alteration of Polycomb function in mouse ES cells upon differentiation, metabolomics and bioinformatics.

The team:

Pedro VizanPedro Vizán is currently a postdoctoral researcher in EpiGeneSys-associated laboratory "Epigenetics Events in Cancer", leaded by Dr Luciano Di Croce at Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona, Spain. The main focus of his research is the Polycomb group of proteins and how they regulate transcription and control differentiation of embryonic stem cells. Previously, he obtained his PhD in 2007 at Universitat de Barcelona. Until 2012 he developed his research as a postdoctoral researcher at London Research Institute (CRUK), concretely in "Developmental Signalling" laboratory, lead by Caroline Hill. He acquired experience in cell signalling and state-of-the-art molecular biology techniques. He also participates in the ITN 4DCellFate.


Silvia MarinSilvia Marin is a part-time lecturer of Biochemistry and a postdoctoral researcher in the "Integrative Systems Biology, Metabolomics and Cancer" research group from Universitat de Barcelona, Spain. She obtained her Ph.D. in 2006 in the Universitat de Barcelona. Current and previous research interests include the development of experimental and bioinformatic tools to perform fluxomics characterization of biological systems. She is an expert in tracer-based metabolomics and has developed new methods for GC/MS isotopologue analysis for tracer-based metabolomic approaches to study healthy and tumoral cell lines. She also participates in several European projects (Diaprepp; Etherpaths; COSMOS).


A novel Boolean model based systems biology approach for prediction of epigenetic drugs synergy

The project proposes to use a Boolean model to investigate the effect of drugs on cancer cell lines and to study the benefits of combining different drugs. The more controlled environment of cell lines and the 'simple' perturbation imposed by drug treatments is a good system to test the modelling framework before moving onto the full tumour model.

The team:

Vera PancaldiVera Pancaldi graduated in Physics in 2004 from Imperial College London and completed her PhD there in Earth Sciences and Engineering on flow in porous media in 2008. She then researched different aspects of fission yeast computational biology with Jürg Bähler, first at the Welcome Trust Sanger Institute and then at University College London. In 2011 she joined David Baulcombe's lab at Cambridge University to study epigenetics and RNA silencing in plants. Since September 2012 she is a FEBS fellow in Alfonso Valencia's group at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) in Madrid, where she is modelling epigenetic aspects of cancer networks.


Branka RadicBranka Radic is a PhD student in the lab of Prof. Giulio Superti-Furga, at the Research Center for Molecular Medicine (CeMM) in Vienna, Austria. Upon completion of undergraduate studies in pharmacy at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia, she worked for a few years as pharmacist. In pursuit of an international career in science, Branka moved to Naples, Italy, where she was involved as a researcher in cancer epigenetics and pharmacology related projects at the Second University of Naples. Branka is currently studying mechanism of action of drugs, focusing on synergistic drug interactions. She is using chemical biology approaches to bring a molecular understanding of interactions of small molecules with novel potentially therapeutic targets.


A Mathematical Model of DNA Methylation Dynamics in Embryonic Stem Cells: Elucidating Epigenetic Control of Pluripotency

The project proposes to propose to develop a model of methylation turnover in ES cells that integrates both transcriptional and epigenetic information. Insights gained from this project may prove clinically relevant since perturbations in adult stem cell populations can cause cancer and other disorders.

The team:

Heather LeeHeather Lee completed her PhD studies at The Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney. Having developed an appetite for biomedical research, Heather embarked upon her post-graduate studies at The Garvan Institute, in affiliation with The University of New South Wales, where she investigated hormonal control of the mammary gland. During her studies, Heather led research that identified lineage specific Elf5 promoter methylation in the mammary gland. This project developed Heather's interest in epigenetics and prompted her to pursue a career in this field. She is now working at The Babraham Institute in Cambridge, UK under Professor Wolf Reik, and has commenced studies of DNA methylation dynamics in immune and embryonic stem cells.

Heather's cooperation partner in this project is Dr Phillip Greulich. He is a postdoc in Ben Simons' group at the University of Cambridge with interests in stochastic gene expression and cell population dynamics.