The 3rd CAPSTONE summit took place in a physical format between May 11th and 13th in Rome, Italy, hosted by Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù. Dr. Doriana Fruci and her team organized the event in an excellent way. It was the first physical gathering, with ESRs and supervisors meeting in person. The network-wide meeting was divided into three parts, transferable skills training, scientific workshops, and ESRs’ presentations


Programme Day 1 – 11th May 2022


Transferable skills: Scientific writing



Academic writing worshop

Taylor KROHN, Premier Taaltraining, Utrecht, NL


Five rules of good Science writing

Dr. David PERALTA, Editor-in-Chief, ChemMedChem, Wiley, Weinheim, DE


Open access publishing

Joanna PLESNIAK and Jacqueline STREHLER, AccelCH, Zurich, CH


Programme Day 2 – 12th May 2022


Scientific workshop 1 - Drug Discovery in Europe



European Drug Discovery panorama: Players in the drug R&D Value Chain

Pr. Benoit DEPREZ, Institut Pasteur of Lille, ULILLE, FR


Innovation in drug discovery



Cases studies in immunology and immunooncology

Pr. Rebecca DEPREZ-POULAIN and Dr. Laetitia LESIRE, ULILLE, FR


Scientific workshop 2 - ERAP and diseases



ERAP1 in cancer immunity

Dr. Doriana FRUCI, OPBG, Roma, IT


Programme Day 3 – 13th May 2022


ESR presentation




WP3: ERAP/IRAP Functions

Analysis of the structure and mechanism of function of ERAP/IRAP Evgenia-Galateia Georgaki, NCRSD, Athens, GR
Proteomic analysis of ERAP/IRAP role on the immunopeptidome of cancer and immune cells Martha Spyridoula Nikopaschou, NCSRD, Athens, GR
Role of the IRAP compartment in cross-presentation: deciphering molecular interactions and MHC class I trafficking

Alice Senni, University of Paris, FR

ERAP modulation as an innovative strategy for cancer treatment
Paula Gragera Alvarez, OPBG, Roma, IT
WP4: ERAP/IRAP & Diseases  

Effect of ERAP1 modulation on induction of protective anti-tumor immunity

Dario Vinicio Guglietta, University of Southampton, UK

In vivo anti-tumor safety and efficacy of NK cell-based immunotherapeutic approach in preclinical models

Kamila Krol, OPBG, Roma, IT

Molecular ecosystem of ERAP four distinct immune cell subsets from patients with ERAP-linked diseases

Aroosha Raja, University Medical Center Utrecht, NL

Exploring the role of the ERAP and IRAP aminopeptidases in models of T cell-mediated autoimmunity

Nadia Keelan, University of Paris, FR

WP5: Leads and probes targeting ERAP/IRAP


Design, synthesis and evaluation of carboxylic acids and bioisosters as potent ERAP/IRAP inhibitors


Discovery of potent modulators of ERAP/IRAP by Fragment-Based Drug Discovery and Kinetic Target Guided Synthesis
Vasileios Fougiaxis, ULILLE, FR
Design, synthesis and evaluation of phosphinic transition-state analogues of ERAP/IRAP Sandra Llamas Rizo, National and Kapodistrian, University of Athens, GR
Biomarker discovery, compound distribution, efficacy and toxicity analysis by Mass Spectrometry Imaging in ERAP-related models - Untargeted metabolomic analysis of HLA-B27+ rat selected organs through MSI Adele Ponzoni, Imabiotech, FR
Development of drug delivery systems of ERAP/IRAP modulators Filipa da Silva de Vasconcelos, Inocure, CZ
Cheminformatics analysis: Ligand and Structure based Nikoletta Maria Koutroumpa, NovaMechanics, CY

Details on presentations

  • The transferable skills training was about scientific writing. It started with an interactive workshop by Taylor Krohn (Premier Taaltraining) who presented some general advice about scientific writing. After that, ESRs worked in groups, traded texts, and gave each other feedback on their work. Some of the advice that would help write clear and informative texts was to use consistent vocabulary, start with familiar information in each sentence, and use parallelism when needed.
  • The next speaker was Dr. David Peralta (Editor-in-Chief on ChemMedChem, Wiley), who presented the rules of effective writing in science and highlighted some tips for publications. Knowing your audience was the most important rule, knowing who you are addressing. Also, keeping the story short and simple and letting it guide you, please the readers, and be confident about what you are publishing were very important. Dr. Peralta’s speech was a very informative speech that could help ESRs publish their work.
  • The transferable skills training ended with the talk of Jacqueline Strehler and Joanna Plesniak (Accelopment) who provided us with up-to-date information about open access publishing and data management.





  • The 2nd day of the network-wide event started with an inspiring speech delivered by Pr. Benoit Deprez (Scientific director - U1177, University of Lille, FR) and titled “European drug discovery panorama: Players in the Drug R&D Value Chain”. Key aspects were shared regarding the rapid development of the pharmaceutical/biotechnological industry in order to target the unmet medical need for common and rare health disorders. The need for scientific agility, innovation, and transdisciplinary communication was highlighted, as well as the element of strong ethics for research involving human subjects.





  • Continuing on a similar tone, Pr. Rebecca Deprez-Poulain (University of Lille, FR) presented insightful information related to “Innovation in drug discovery”. Basic research for new drug candidates and especially small molecules were highlighted, with emphasis on breakthrough therapies for untreated diseases. In addition, essential parameters for the development of a lead compound to a pharmaceutical product (e.g. solubility, stability, bioavailability, potency, selectivity, metabolism, toxicity), were described.





  • Post-doctoral researcher Laetitia Lesire (University of Lille, FR) provided industrial examples of drug discovery with a focus on “Case studies in immunology and immuno-oncology”. The lecture included therapeutic applications with synthetic and biological drugs targeting protein-protein interactions (PPI). Benefits and drawbacks of the use of antibodies, peptides, and small molecules as immunotherapeutic agents, were also mentioned along with optimization techniques against known immunomodulatory targets (TNF-α, IL-17).





  • Dr. Doriana Fruci (Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù, IT) closed the training sessions by delivering a lecture about “ERAP1 in cancer immunity”. The subject was centered around therapeutic implications of ERAP1 expression in the cancer-immune cycle and the impact of its polymorphisms on tumor progression, together with the immunopeptidome alteration observed after genetic or pharmacological inhibition of ERAP1.








  •   At the end of the day, the organizing committee provided a wonderful guided tour around the historic center of Rome, which gave the   opportunity to all CAPSTONE members to interact and socialize around signature monuments and places such as the Colosseum and   the ancient Roman Forum.







  • During the 3rd and last day of the meeting, ESRs had the opportunity to present to each otherand to supervisors some early results of their projects.


ESR words

   "The 3rd CAPSTONE meeting in Rome gave us the possibility to finally meet in person and to share face-to-face our ideas and impressions concerning these first 6 months as PhD students. Having the chance to interact with each other and talk about our feelings and emotions was very supportive, giving us more energy and motivation to face the next future months. " Alice (ESR7)

   "Being part of the first physical CAPSTONE meeting was a memorable experience filled with skill-building activities around our common purpose. It was exciting to interact with the fellow members as a team and exchange valuable knowledge during the scientific workshops " Vasilis (ESR2) 

   "During the 3rd CAPSTONE meeting, we had the opportunity to build a constructive scientific discussion with the members of the consortium. Along with the knowledge gained during the scientific workshops, I went back to work with new insights for my research" Adele (ESR13)