Final Consortium Meeting in Edinburgh, UK, 1-3rd December 2016

During the final meeting, project partners and fellows presented their scientific progress. Managers provided overviews of the training programme, deliverables and reporting during the general assembly, and partners discussed outline for continuation of the project and future collaborations. For more information, please contact our Project Manager, Dr Natalia Rybtsova:

Online Lecture Series, September-December 2016

Our industrial project partner LaVision Biotec delivered online lectures to fellows on their Light Sheet Microscopy Technologies and Applications, and gave guidance on sample preparation and clearing. Our associated partner, Dr Martin Gering (University of Nottingham), gave a talk on “Studying Hemogenic Endothelium and HSCs in Zebrafish: Advantages and Challenges”, and our guest speaker Dr L Fraser gave a lecture on “GMP and Career Opportunities in Industry”, followed by discussions with fellows. Our associated partner, Luminartis GmbH, experts in fluorescent dye technologies, provided an online video tutorial and guidance on “How to prepare antibody conjugates with fluorescent dyes”.      

Outreach, September 2016

Two fellows had the opportunity to participate in the “Coming of Age: The Legacy of Dolly at 20″ event which took place in Edinburgh. Public lectures, discussions and activities were held to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the birth of Dolly the Sheep. World renowned Prof Sir Ian Wilmut (University of Edinburgh), Nobel Prize Laureate Prof Shinya Yamanaka (Kyoto University) and Prof Angelika Schnieke (Technical University, Munich) gave public lectures, followed by a reception with researchers, activities and displays from the Roslin Institute and MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine. ESRs 1&2 participated at the Stem Cells display, discussed their research with the public and met the speakers.  


Dissemination and Publications

Fellows presented their data at 10 national and 13 international conferences during 2015-2016. These included the Gordon Research Conference, 4th Helmholtz Natiure Medicine Diabetes Conference, ISSCR Annual Meeting and others.  F􏰣􏰇ellows also contributed to 15 publications during 2015-2016, including in journals such as Nature Communications, Science Translational Medicine, Journal of Clinical Investigation and EMBO Journal. In 2016:

  • C.Souilhol, J.G. Lendinez, S.Rybtsov, F.Murphy, H.Wilson, D.Hills, A.Batsivari, A.Binagui-Casas, A.C. McGarvey, H.R.MacDonald, R.Kageyama, C.Siebel, S.Zhao and A.Medvinsky. “Developing HSCs become Notch independent by the end of maturation in the AGM region”. Blood (2016) 128:1567-1577. (ESR2).
  • Souilhol C, Gonneau C, Lendinez JG, Batsivari A, Rybtsov S, Wilson H, Morgado-Palacin L, Hills D, Taoudi S, Antonchuk J, Zhao S, Medvinsky A. “Inductive interactions mediated by interplay of asymmetric signalling underlie development of adult haematopoietic stem cells”. Nat Commun. (2016) Mar 8;7:10784. (ER3) doi: 10.1038/ncomms10784.
  • Castillo SD, Tzouanacou E, ZawThin M, Berenjeno IM, Parker VE, Chivite I, Figueiredo AM, et al. “Somatic activating mutations in Pik3ca cause sporadic venous malformations in mice and humans”. Sci Transl Med (2016) 8(332)ra43. (ESR7).
  • Soler A, Figueiredo AM, Castel P, Martin L, Monelli E, Angulo-Urarte A, et al. “Therapeutic benefit of selective inhibition of p110alpha PI3-kinase in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors”. Clin Cancer Res (2016). DOI:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-15-3051. (ESR7 and 8).
  • Sabine A, Saygili Demir C, Petrova TV. “Endothelial Cell Responses to Biomechanical Forces in Lymphatic Vessels”. Antioxid Redox Signal. (2016) Sep 1;25(7):451-65. (ESR10) doi:10.1089/ars.2016.6685.
  • Poulin A, Saygili Demir C, Rosset S, Petrova TV, Shea H. “Dielectric elastomer actuator for mechanical loading of 2D cell cultures”. Lab Chip. (2016) Sep 21;16(19):3788-3794. (ESR10).

Outreach Activities 2016

Fellows have actively contributed to many public outreach activities, such as Science festivals, Open Days and High School events, to enhance public understanding of science and our research. 

  • Nov 2016: ESR9&10 participated in the public event Scientistic Festival at EPFL.
  • Nov 2016: ESR9&10 and ER2.2 gave talks during the EPFL Open Day for school kids and teachers. 
  • July 2016: ESR1 took part in the “Science Insights Work Experience” Event, organised by University of Edinburgh, where high school pupils had opportunity to talk to researchers about careers in science.
  • June 2016: ESR5.2, 5.3 & 6 participated in Alitalo Lab Open Day at Biomedicum, Finland.
  • May 2016: ESR11&12 participated in and gave practical demonstrations at their Open Lab Day, Uppsala, for high school pupils (Linnesgymnasiet).  
  • May 2016: ESR 11&12 gave talks at the Open Scientific Session Day for Seniors, Uppsala University.
  • April 2016: ESR3&4 discussed the importance of biological research with high school pupils during the “IFOM per la scuola” event.
  • March 2016: ESR11&12 and ER4 helped develop an exhibit and held practical demonstrations for high school pupils and general public days during the Scifest Science Festival, Uppsala.  


During the course of the project, each of the fellows seconded to one or more of our Partner laboratories in order to learn specialised techniques relevant to their individual research projects. The secondments ensured direct knowledge/technology transfer and strengthened collaborative links, which were key to the success of the project. 

Industrial Online Lecture Series for Vessel fellows, February 2016

Our project partner Nanologica delivered lectures on topics covering “From Research to Product”, “Basic Understanding of Intellectual Property” and “Case Study- Review of a Patent”, followed by discussions with fellows. 

Joint Symposium “Biology of Cancer Microenvironment: Signaling pathways in blood vessels, immune infiltrates and fibroblasts”, was held in Barcelona, Spain, 22nd January 2016

Scientific workshop organised by Dr Mariona Graupera (IDIBELL) and Catalan Society of Biology. Our associated partner, Luminartis GmbH, had a stand showcasing their fluorescent dye technologies and applications. Fellows invited an “Inspirational Speaker” to talk to them about their experiences in the journey to becoming a young PI. 

For more information about the symposium, please contact our Project Manager, Dr Natalia Rybtsova:

Annual Meeting

21st January 2016, held in Barcelona, Spain. Fellows presented their scientific progress and this was followed by a general assembly meeting.


Vessel fellows contributed to 9 published articles in 2015:                                                                        
• Giampietro C., Savorani C., Dejana E. et al. (2015) “The actin binding protein EPS8 binds
VE-cadherin and modulates YAP localization and signaling”. Journal of Cell Biology. vol.211, no.6, 1177-1192. (ESR3)
• T.Holopainen, M.Räsänen, K.Alitalo et al. (2015) “Endothelial Bmx tyrosine kinase activity is essential for myocardial hypertrophy and remodelling”, PNAS, vol.112, no.42. (ESR5)
• R.Kivelä, M.Räsänen, K.Alitalo et al., 2015, “VEGF-B induced vascular growth leads to metabolic reprogramming and ischemia resistance in the heart”, EMBO Mol Med., Vol.6, is. 3. (ESR5)
• J.Bernier-Latmani, C. Saygili Demir, T.Petrova et al., (2015) “DLL4 promotes continuous adult intestinal lacteal regeneration and dietary fat transport”, Journal of Clinical Investigation, 125(12):4572-4586. (ESR10)
• A.Sabine, C.Saygili Demir, T.Petrova et al., (2015) “FOXC2 and fluid shear stress stabilize postnatal lymphatic vasculature” Journal of Clinical Investigation, 125(10):3861-3877. (ESR10)
• J.Kazenwadel, C.Saygili Demir, T.Petrova, N.Harvey et al., (2015) “GATA2 is required for lymphatic vessel valve development and maintenance”, Journal of Clinical Investigation, 125(8):2979-2994. (ESR10)
• J.Liebl, C.Saygili Demir, T. Petrova, S. Zahler et al., (2015) “Cdk5 controls lymphatic vessel development and function by phosphorylation of Foxc2”, Nature Communications, 6, No 7274. (ESR10)
• Niaudet, Castro-Freire M, Betsholtz C. et al., (2015) “Gpr116 Receptor Regulates Distinctive Functions in Pneumocytes and Vascular Endothelium”, PloS One 10(9): e0137949. (ESR11)
• Pedrosa AR, Diéguez-Hurtado R, Adams RH, Duarte A. et al., (2015)  “Endothelial Jagged1 antagonizes Dll4 regulation of endothelial branching and promotes vascular maturation downstream of Dll4/Notch1” Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 35: 1134-1146. (ER1)

News: Outreach

Fellows and partner laboratories regularly participate in public engagement events to raise awareness of the importance of research and career opportunities in science. In 2015 fellows participated in the following events:

  • Dec 2015: ER1 gave a talk and practical demonstration during an Open Lab Day for high school pupils, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine. 
  • Dec 2015: ESR4 participated in a public fundraising event for research on genetic diseases. 
  • Nov 2015: ESR6 participated in the public event “Helsinki Challenge – Celebration of the University of Helsinki 375th Anniversary”.
  • Nov 2015: ESR3&4 participated in two high school events at Istituto Tecnico Golgi and Instituto Tecnico Beretta, Italy. 
  • Nov 2015: ESR9&10 gave talks and practical demonstrations to pupils during the “Kids at work – Daring all Professions Day”, Lausanne, Switzerland. 
  • Nov 2015: ER1 gave a practical demonstrations during an Open Lab Day for Senior Women at Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine.
  • Oct 2015, Jan 2016: ESR7&8 gave seminars to high school students about career opportunities in science (Escola Secundara de Saborosa, Portugal, and Instituto Sacro Cuore, Modena, respectively).
  • June 2015: ER1 gave a talk at the CiM Science Slam outreach event.
  • April 2015: ER1 gave a talk to high school pupils during Orientation Week, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine. 
  • April 2015: ESR1&2 and ER3 demonstrated at the Stem Cell exhibit during the Edinburgh International Science Festival, open to general public.
  • March 2015: ESR6 gave a practical demonstration to natural science pupils from two high schools visiting Alitalo laboratory. Meilahti Campus Day in Biomedical Helsinki, Finland. 
  • Jan-Feb 2015: ESR7&8 participated in public University Open Days and lab visits, IDIBELL.
  • Jan 2015: ESR3 participated in a public fundraising event for the Italian Cancer Research Association.

Complementary Skills Training Course “Sustaining Networks”, 21-23rd September 2015 

Fellows attended a tailored interactive 3-day course in Edinburgh, organised in association with the Institute for Academic Development, University of Edinburgh. The core programme themes were networking, collaborations and career planning. Business development and commercialisation topics were included through the University of Edinburgh Business School’s Entrepreneurs Club and a site visit and talks at local enterprise, Roslin Cells (Edinburgh Bioquarter).      

Joint Workshops: “Vascular Growth Factors Training Course” and “Vessels and Blood in Development”  were held in Helsinki 8-9th June 2015 

Organised by Prof Kari Alitalo (University of Helsinki) and Prof Alexander Medvinsky (University of Edinburgh). For more information please contact Project Manager, Dr Natalia Rybtsova:


Mid-term Review Meeting    

3rd December 2014. Held in Uppsala, Sweden.

Industrial Training at Nanologica 

4th December 2014. Fellows attended an industrial training day at Nanologica in Södertälje, Sweden. The workshop included hands-on practical experience and presentations on “Commercialising research from a SME perspective”.

Joint workshops “Specialization Barrier Properties” and “Endothelial Cell Identity” were held in Uppsala, Sweden, 1-2nd December 2014 

Organised by Prof Christer Betsholtz (Karolinska Institutet) and Prof Tatiana Petrova (University of Lausanne).  For more information please contact the Project Manager, Dr Natalia Rybtsova:


Fellows contributed to 2 published articles:                                                                          
•“VEGF-B-induced vascular growth leads to metabolic reprogramming and ischemia resistance in the heart”. Kivelä et al., EMBO Mol Med, 2014 Mar:6(3)307-21. (UH, ESR5)
•“Endothelial JAGGED1 Antagonizes Dll4 Regulation of Endothelial Branching and Promotes Vascular Maturation Downstream of Dll4/Notch1”. Pedrosa et al., Arterioscler. Thromb. Vasc. Biol. 2015 May:35(5):1134-46. (UOM, ER1)

ITN-Vessel was acknowledged in three publications by partners:
•“Comparison of vascular growth factors in the murine brain reveals placenta growth factor as prime candidate for CNS revascularization”. E. Gaál, K.Alitalo et al., Blood, 2013 Aug 1:122(5):658-65. (UH)  
•“Connexins in lymphatic vessel physiology and disease”. M.J. Meens, T. Petrova et al, FEBS Letters, 2014 Apr 17:588(8)1271–7. (UNIL) 
•“Transcriptional regulation of arterial differentiation via Wnt, Sox and Notch”. M. Morini, E. Dejana, Curr. Opin. in Hematol. 2014 May;21(3):229-34. (IFOM)                                                        

Dissemination activities

In 2013-2014, fellows presented their work at 4 national meetings and 4 international conferences. These included the 4th Cold Spring Harbor Conference on Blood Brain Barrier (2014), EMBL Congress on Cardiovascular Biology (2013), Gordon Research Conference (2014).

Congratulations to our partners who received awards in 2013-2014!                                              

•In November 2014 Prof Christer Betsholtz gave a distinguished lecture “Cell-cell signalling in the regulation of angiogenesis and vascular permeability” in R.M.Berne Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Virginia, USA.

•Prof Elisabetta Dejana won the Antonio Feltrinelli Prize 2014 of the National Academy of Lincei for many discoveries in the field of angiogenesis and pathogenesis and experimental therapy of Cerebral Cavernous Malformation (IFOM news). 

•In 2013 Prof Kari Alitalo was elected a foreign associate of National Academy of Science of the United States of America (NAS). Prof Alitalo was also awarded the A.I. Virtanen Award 2013, Finland (Biobio society news), the Finnish Science Prize 2013 (link), the Niilo Voipio Award 2013, Finland and the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Medicine 2014, The Netherlands (link

•In February, 2013, Prof Tatiana Petrova was awarded a Pfizer Prize for discoveries about the formation and functioning of lymphatic valves (link).

News: Outreach 2014 

Our outreach activities include public lectures, participation in open days at local host institutions and school events. •VESSEL partners presented 2 one-hour public lectures at our annual meetings in Milan and Uppsala. •In November 2014, our Coordinator (UEDIN) gave a presentation at the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Foundation Open Day for leukaemia fundraisers in Edinburgh.

Vessel fellows also helped in the organisation and delivery of scientific information sessions for high school pupils.    
•In September 2014 UH organised a scientific information session for high school students from Tampere, Finland (40 attendees) at the Translational Cancer Biology Program, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland. ESRs 5&6 assisted and made presentations.    
•In November 2014, UEDIN organized a workshop for high school biology students in Arran, Scotland (66 pupils attended), developed with support from SCRM science communication team and training manager. UEDIN vessel fellows assisted in preparing slideshow and group activities. ESR1 helped demonstrate activities and gave a presentation.    
•In April 2014, ESR11 took part in “Journée Oser tous les métiers – Daring all professions Day” (kids at work day) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Practical 3D-imaging microscopy workshop

24th April 2014. Organized by LaVision Biotec and Prof Ralf Adams, Munster, Germany. This workshop introduced advanced imaging techniques and fellows were offered hands-on sessions for 2-photon laser-scanning and light sheet microscopy where they could image their own samples and communicate their specific requirements.

Workshop “Imaging Angiogenesis and Tissue Patterning”                                

23-24th April 2014. Held at Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Münster, organized by Prof Ralf Adams (University of Münster).

Annual Meeting

4th March 2014. Held in Milan, Italy.

Workshop “Methods to image dynamic structural and functional changes in the blood brain barrier”

3-4th March 2014. Held at IFOM, Milan Italy. Organised by Prof Christer Betsholtz (Karolinska Institutet) and Prof Elisabetta Dejana (University of Milan).


Training Course “How to be an effective researcher” 27-28th February 2014

This two-day interactive training for Vessel fellows in Edinburgh was organised with Institute for Academic Development, University of Edinburgh. The course covered practical ways to increase effectiveness, including project planning, leadership, communication, time management, problem solving and teamwork.

Kick off Meeting

22nd June 2012. Held at The University of Edinburgh.