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HARC mission

Our mission is to support and advance healthy ageing through biomedical research, education and collaborative partnership at European, national and local levels.

The HARC Conference
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Mobility Program-Twinning

Twinning between each MUL laboratory with a European partner laboratory will be based on the exchange of research personnel between the laboratories of MUL and Partner Laboratories with complementary fields of research. The outgoing researchers will be trained in new techniques in host laboratories and bring the knowledge and expertise to the host units in order to implement them in the ongoing research projects. Incoming twinning partners will be involved in training and research activities of the host laboratories contributing to the enhancement of the quality of the research conducted in these laboratories. Although all task leaders have individual twinning partners, the efforts will be made to enhance collaboration also with other international partners within each Research Area in order to strengthen and extend the collaborative research. There have been planned 13 incoming visits and 25 outgoing visits. Total time of twinning is 36 months.



Professor Richard Yanagihara works the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) program at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. He has served as the RCMI Program Director since 2000 and as the principal investigator of the Pacific Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Research since 2003. His scientific explorations have taken the form of problem-based, disease-oriented, longterm, high-risk, multidisciplinary, opportunistic investigations of medically urgent phenomena of worldwide importance, conducted largely in the context of exploiting naturally occurring paradigms of high-incidence “place diseases” among human populations isolated by virtue of their genetics, culture and/or geography.

Prof. Yanagihara’s arrival was associated with healthy aging research in the field of potential infectious agents that threaten the elderly. Research team of prof. Paweł Liberski (MUL) and prof. Yanagihara have already discovered two hantaviruses - Lodz-1 and 2 in shrews and a completely new virus Goddess of shrews. During the stay of prof. Yanagihara further cooperation was discussed, especially mid-moles, shrews and bats, which are carriers of hantaviruses. That is why a research trip to area near Spala was organized, where in the old German fortifications are the habitat of bats. Prof. Yanagihara also worked in laboratory cell cultures assuming a recently caught shrews and moles. These cultures were able to set up, and they were frozen in liquid nitrogen and sent to the US. Prof. Yanagihara also took part in the first HARC Workshop, where he delivered a lecture. Visit of prof. Yanagihara was very successful focused on the newly discovered virus.


Sylwia_Moskwa_312106Sylwia Moskwa PhD student of Department Immunology, Rheumatology and Allergy of Medical University of Lodz, spent 4 weeks in London, working at prof. Sebastian Johnston's Respiratory Medicine Laboratory at National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College (HARC twinning programme). Under the supervision of Dr Michael Edwards, Ms Moskwa was learning primary cell culture of bronchial epithelial cells (HBEC) taken from asthmatic and non-asthmatic donors, infecting of HBEC with Rhinovirus (RV) and analysis of HBEC immune response of the molecular level.



               Małgorzata Pigłowska, PhD student of Department of Geriatrics of the Medical University of Łódź has been staying in Department of Geriatrics, Centre Hospitalier Lyon-Sud, Franc working under the supervision of Prof. Marc Bonnefoy since April to July 2014. During this time she has been conducting studies connected to the prevalence of sarcopenia in acute geriatric ward. Ms Pigłowska would like to examine the influence of hospitalisation on older people muscle mass, muscle strength and physical performance. The visit to the Lyon hospital is also precious experience to see the work and approach of medical personnel in other European Union country.


      Ms Marta Stasiak MD, from Biomedical Studies of the Medical University of Łódź was working in the Laboratory of Medicinal Biochemistry which is a "Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique" unit (CNRS UMR 6237) situated in the "Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne", Reims, France. This unit is headed by Professor François-Xavier Maquart. Her stay was planned for five months. Ms Stasiak joined the team led by Professor Yanusz Wegrowski and Stéphane Brezillon. This team objectives are: to measure the effects of elastin, collagen IV, lumican and their derived matrikines on different parameters of tumor biology including (i) in vivo tumor growth, (ii) invasion, angiogenesis, lymphangiogenesis and stromal reaction. The group studies the mechanisms involved in these phenomena and determines the minimal active sequences of matrikines,  to identify targets and to develop therapeutic active peptides. Ms Stasiak’s studies are focused on searching the early changes in colorectal carcinoma HT29 cells and melanoma B16F1 cells induced by Snail transcription factor known to be responsible for the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and increased mobility of cancer cells. This process has been extensively investigated as an early event of carcinoma metastasis and endothelial cells interaction.


          Katarzyna Sobierajska, PhD,  worked in the Cell Signalling Laboratory, Department of  Experimental and Clinical Biomedical Sciences Biochemistry, Human Health Medical School situated in the University of Florence, Florence, Italy, headed by Professor Paola Chiarugi. She stayed there for five months from January to June 2014. The one of the objectives tested in the laboratory is the role of microenvironment such as cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), tumour associated macrophages (TAMs) in the regulation of tumour progression as well as metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells. CAFs and TAMs are able to increase during tumor cell motility processes, that promote cancer cells escape from primary tumor and metastatic spread.  The research group studies the mechanisms involved in these phenomena and determines influence of some drugs on these pathways modulation. The studies of Katarzyna Sobierajska were focused on the analysis of the behavior of cancer associated fibroblast after zoledronic acid (ZA) treatment. ZA amino-bisphosphate compound used for the treatment of symptomatic skeletal event, has recently been shown to have immunomodulatory properties that need to be exploited in cancer immunotherapy. CAFs play a key role in cancer malignancy, eliciting a pro-oxidant environment and endowing cancer cells with invasive motility, stem cell properties, metastatic spread and importantly metabolic alterations. For this reason analysis of cell survival, as well as proliferation and apoptosis were applied. Additionally, analysis of some protein expression showed that ZA could be involved in modulation which was observed by western blot assay. Obtained results suggested that ZA is able to partially modulate CAFs proliferation probably by mevalonate pathways.


           Dawid Świeboda graduated from the University of Maria Curie-Sklodowska (Lublin, Poland, 2008), where he gained a Master’s degree in Virology and Immunology. Following this, he moved to the UK and from 2010 has been working within different research groups at Imperial Collage London. He started in Prof. Barclay’s influenza group where he was involved in the role of cytokines in the pathogenesis of influenza infection. Since October 2012, he has been working closely in Prof. Roberto Solari Group at Respiratory Diseases Section, NHLI, at Imperial College London, headed by Prof. Sebatian Johnston. In Solari's group he has been working on the interaction between human Rhinovirus and the host cell in particular how the virus hijacks the cellular ER and Golgi membranes in order to replicate. The aims to discover novel targets to allow the development of anti-viral drugs. As he has carried out a significant amount of group work with a variety of practical techniques in September 2014 he obtained one-month training at prof. Marek Kowalski Laboratory in the EU program HARC (Healthy Ageing Research Centre). It was proposed by Prof. Sebastian Johnston to broaden his clinical skills.

David was introduced to be the participant of the EU program HARC (Healthy Ageing Research Centre) via Prof. Sebastian Johnston- the head of the NHLI unit where he currently works on Rhinoviruses under the supervision of prof. Roberto Solari. After the successful visit of Sylwia Moskwa at National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial Collage London, David was offered to visit the laboratory of prof. Marek Kowalski to extend the knowledge in Flow Cytometry, techniques involving working with the human tissues and growing Human Nasal Epithelial Cells (HNECs). It was a great opportunity to visit and observe the work of the scientific institution in another country-in this case Poland.

During the time in prof. Marek Kowalski laboratory David gained the opportunity to:

·         participate in research with dr. Aleksandra Piechota-Polanczyk;

·         process infections of HNECs with HRV and human paravirus;

·       PBMCs stimulation with different TLR ligands: Poly I:C, GCCP, R484 and measuring the level of cytokine in supernatants with ELISA or FACS;

·         To analyse the blood using BD LSR-Fortessa and using CBA (BD Cytometric Bead Arrays);

·         To isolate nasal epithelial cells and growing the primary cell lines (HNECs);

After one month exchange at the Medial University of Lodz, David broadened technical skills, got the insight into the polish science.


           Dr Malgorzata Pawelczyk works in the Department of Immunology, Rheumatology and Allergy at the Medical University of Lodz, Poland. She is interested in the application of microRNAs as biomarkers in asthma exacerbations. Within HARC mobility program she has spent 2 months at Imperial College London learning miRNA transfection techniques.

            The aim of the visit at Airway Disease Section, National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College London was the exchange of experience and methodology used in miRNA research. Dr. Malgorzata Pawelczyk was involved in training and research activities of the host laboratory (miRNA isolation, reverse transcription, expression analysis with Real-Time PCR) and was also taught how to perform miRNA transfection in order to silence selected genes. All experiments were performed on IL-1beta stimulated-immotilised A459 cell line, and transfection efficiency was measured by the level of released IL-6 and MTT cell viability assays.

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