Doctoral Candidate 1: Linsheng ZHANG

Host Institution: CNR (Naples, Italy)

PhD project: Investigating the role of DDX11 DNA helicase at the interface between chromosomal cohesion and replication


Linsheng obtained his bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences at Southern University of Science and Technology (Shenzhen, China), where he revealed the structural basis for Aca1, a transcription factor in bacteriophages, mediating anti-CRISPR repression. Subsequently, focusing on the effect of N-terminal GFP tagging on the enzymatic activity and cellular localization of human acetyl-CoA carboxylase 1, he earned his master’s degree in Bioscience at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Thuwal, Saudi Arabia) in 2023.

Doctoral Candidate 2 : Polina SELKOVA

Host Institution: CNR (Naples, Italy)

PhD project:  In vitro reconstitution of the de novo human cohesin loading pathway operating at the DNA replication fork


Polina completed her undergraduate studies in Biotechnology at the St. Petersburg State Technological Institute (Technical University) in Russia (2015). Then she continued her academic journey by pursuing a master’s degree at the same institution, specializing in the transfection of mammalian cells to generate full antibodies at the biotechnology company, BIOCAD, located in Saint Petersburg, Russia (2016-2017). After finishing her studies, Polina joined Konstantin Severinov’s laboratory in 2017, where she contributed to work dedicated to searching and characterizing new CRISPR-Cas nucleases for genome engineering.

Doctoral Candidate 3: Leah PITMAN

Host Institution:

UKRI-MRC (Cambridge, United Kingdom)

PhD project:  Structural biology of DNA loop extrusion by cohesin


Leah earned her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Maryland College Park in 2020, while she also worked at the US Department of Agriculture studying porcine parasites (Maryland, USA). Following graduation, she joined the National Institutes of Health’s Intramural Research Program (Maryland, USA) and undertook research in RNA Biology and Structural Biochemistry (2021-2023). Leah is now pursuing her PhD in the Löwe lab at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Cambridge, UK) studying the structural mechanisms by which cohesion facilitates DNA loop extrusion.

Doctoral Candidate 4: Dhruv SHETH

Host Institution:

IFOM ETS (Milan, Italy)

PhD project:Regulation of cohesin-mediated processes


Dhruv, holding a Master’s in Medical Biotechnology (2016) and a Bachelor’s in Biotechnology from Manipal University (Manipal, India), embarked on his PhD research journey. Following his master’s, he joined Prof. Ashok Venkitaram’s laboratory at Instem, Bangalore, focusing on developing protein-protein interaction inhibitors of BRCA1. Subsequently, he transitioned to the National Centre for Biological Sciences (Bangalore, India) as a Junior Research Fellow, delving into the study of host-pathogen interactions. In his most recent role as a Senior Project Associate at CCBT, Instem (Bangalore, India), Dhruv dedicated his efforts to establishing phenotypic screens and engaging in research related to SARS-CoV-2 and antiviral discovery.

Doctoral Candidate 5: Jessica FRISON

Host Institution:

CNRS (Toulouse, France)

PhD project: In vivo imaging of cohesin-mediated loop extrusion during DNA double strand break repair.


Jessica performed her studies in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology at the University of Padua obtaining her Master degree in 2021, after completing an internship at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden (7 months, 2021).

Afterwards, she worked as research fellow on a project founded by the Italian Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation at the University of Padua (2022-2023).

Doctoral Candidate 6: Eva MARANDET

Host Institution:

FGC-IGC (Oeiras, Portugal) 

PhD project: Novel regulators of sister chromatid cohesion


Eva obtained her master’s degree in molecular and cellular biology, cell genetics and pathologies in Lyon, France. She carried out her first internship in Randlett’s team, working on habituation process and diseases related, using zebrafish as a model (Lyon, France, 2022). Lately, Eva worked in Mollereau’s team at the ENS of Lyon, on Parkinson’s disease, using Drosophila retina (Lyon, France, 2023). Eva joined the Chromosome Dynamics laboratory at IGC in September as part of the Marie-Curie program CohesiNet. She will investigate novel regulators of sister chromatid cohesion using Drosophila and human cells. 

Doctoral Candidate 7: Palina TRUS

Host Institution:

IMP (Vienna, AT)

PhD project: Molecular mechanisms that control DNA loop extrusion by cohesin


Palina graduated with honours from the biological faculty at Lomonosov Moscow State University focusing on cell biology and embryology. After that, she continued her studies in the Regenerative biology and medicine program at Technical University Dresden (Dresden, Germany, 2020-2023). During the program, she did several rotations combining various biological scales and systems, united by cell division and regeneration topics. Her master’s project was centered on studying meiotic chromosome axis proteins using mouse model in Attila Toth’s laboratory (MTZ, Dresden, Germany).

Doctoral Candidate 8: Bartosz MALINSKI

Host Institution:

LUMICKS (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

PhD project: Investigating cohesin functions with single molecule techniques


Bartosz got his master’s degree in biotechnology at the University of Agriculture in Kraków (Kraków, Poland, 2020). During his master studies he participated in BARI program (Baltic Science Network Mobility Program for Research Internships), during which he went to do his 3-month internship in Francisca Lottersberger’s laboratory at Linköping University (Linköping, Sweden), to work in the field of telomere biology (2020). After defending his master thesis, he went back to Linköping as a Research Preparatory course student and later as Research assistant to study new mutations in telomerase complex protein NHP2 (2021-2023).

Doctoral Candidate 9: Zoi KARAGIORGOU

Host Institution: VUMC (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

PhD project: Cohesin (mal)functioning in cohesinopathies


Zoi holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Patras (Patras, Greece) and a master’s degree in applied biochemistry from the University of Patras and the National Centre for Scientific Research “Demokritos” (Athens, Greece). During her master’s studies she was part of the Biochemistry, Biochemical Analysis and Matrix Pathobiology Research Group (University of Patras) and did a research internship in the University of Tromsø (Tromsø, Norway) in the Tumour Biology Research Group, where she studied the role of proteoglycans in cancer progression. Soon after, she started her PhD in cohesion biology and cohesinopathies in the Oncogenetics Research Group in Amsterdam UMC (Amsterdam, Netherlands). 

Doctoral Candidate 10 : Farnaz Zare

Host Institution:VUMC (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

PhD project: Functional CRISPR genomics-exploring cancer vulnerabilities linked to sister chromatid cohesion


Farnaz got her master’s degree in biomedical engineering in cell, tissue, and biotechnology from Politecnico di Milano University (Italy, 2020). During her master’s studies, she joined the research group at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Umeå University (Sweden, 2019), where she completed her thesis studying host-cell membrane interactions. With a background in engineering coupled with her exposure to genomics, she stepped into the field of computational biology. Following her graduation, she worked as a bioinformatician in the research group at Human Technopole institute (Milan, Italy). Farnaz’s passion lies in exploring data to address biological questions with the ultimate goal of therapeutic targeting.

Doctoral Candidate 11: Ivana MILAS

Host Institution:PLASTICELL (Stevenage, United Kingdom)

PhD project: Development of stem cell-based models of cohesinopathies in vitro


Ivana, originally from Croatia, has a bachelor’s degree in biomedicine and a master’s degree in molecular genetics from Lund University in Sweden (2022). Before starting her PhD studies, Ivana worked as a research assistant in the department for Muscle Biology (Lund University) and in the division for Clinical Genetics (Lund University Hospital) (2022-2023).

Doctoral Candidate 12: Ana Rita MARQUEZ

Host Institution: FSP CNIO (Madrid, Spain)

PhD project: Crosstalk of cohesin and Polycomb in differentiated and cancer cells


Ana Rita obtained a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry (2020) and a master’s degree in molecular genetics and biomedicine (2022), both from the NOVA School of Science, in NOVA University of Lisbon (Lisbon, Portugal). She performed her master thesis’ project in the Chromatin and Epigenetics Lab, under the supervision of Dr Sérgio de Almeida, in the Institute of Molecular Medicine João Lobo Antunes (iMM-JLA, Lisbon, Portugal). Here, she explored a cancer therapeutic approach based on the synthetic lethal interaction between an epigenetic regulator and a group of replication stress-regulating proteins (2021-2022). She was then offered a laboratory technician position at the same laboratory, in which she collaborated in exploring the DNA damage response of muscle fibres (2022-2023).