The 5th CAPSTONE Network Summit took place in Utrecht, Netherlands from May 10th to 12th, bringing together partners, scientific members, and Early Stage Researchers (ESRs). The event was thoroughly organized by Dr. Jonas Kuiper and Aroosha Raja (ESR12) from the University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht. The program encompassed a diverse range of activities and training workshops designed to enhance the scientific and other skills of the ESRs.



Programme Day 1 ‚Äď 10th May¬†2023


Scientific workshop (SW4): Systems Immunology perspectives of antigen presentation and T cell responses 


9:00-12:00 am

 Using population genetics to learn disease mechanisms of ERAP

 Jonas Kuiper, University Medical Center Utrecht, NL
 Repertoire sequencing in inflammation   Alex Yermanos, University Medical Center Utrecht, NL
¬†Immunogenetics of antigen presentation ¬†Can KeŇümir, University of Utrecht, NL
 A systems approaches in immunity  Bram Gerritsen , University Medical Center Utrecht, NL
Understanding how ERAP1 shapes T cell responses in disease  Edd James, University of Southampton, UK
 Time Transferable skills training (TS3): Business development, Entrepreneurship, Intellectual Property  Presenter
13:00-16:30 pm   Science-based entrepreneurship & Startup incubator  Stefan Braam, Utrechtinc, NL
 The Nontraditional Path -Technical Sales and Business Development  Erika Pfaunmiller, Technical Sales and Business Development, IMBT, FR
 From Incubating to international deployment  Jonathan Stauber, CEO ImaBiotech/Pryxant Labs
 NovaMechanics: towards 15 years of innovation  Antreas Afantitis, NovaMechanics, CY
 Intellectual Property Rights  Lea Ackerer, ImaBiotech, FR
¬†Scientific Workshop (SW1):¬†ERAP1: a journey beyond antigen processing ¬†Doriana Fruci, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Ges√Ļ, IT


Programme Day 2 ‚Äď 11th May 2023



Transferable skills training (TS2): Open Science, EU requirements & Data management, Plagiarism & Authorship, Ethics, FAIR Principles


9:00-12:00am   Open Science  Sander van der Laan, University Medical Center Utrecht, NL
 Eu requirements for Open Science   Joanna Plesniak, accelopment Schweiz AG, CH
 Open Data & Code  Nico Poppelier, University Medical Center Utrecht, NL
 Plagiarism & Authorship  Marcel van der Heyden, University Medical Center Utrecht, NL
 Repositories & Resources  Jonas Kuiper, University Medical Center Utrecht, NL

ESRs flash talks


13:00-15:00 pm

 Targeting an allosteric site in Insulin Regulated Aminopeptidase for the discovery of selective inhibitors

 ESR3: Evgenia Galateia Georgaki NCSRD, Athens, GR
 Proteomic analysis of ERAP1 role on the immunopeptidome of A375 melanoma cells  ESR4: Martha Spyridoula Nikopaschou NCSRD, Athens, GR
 Role of the IRAP compartment in cross-presentation: deciphering molecular interactions and MHC class I trafficking  ESR7: Alice Senni, University of Paris, FR
¬†ERAP modulation as an innovative strategy for cancer treatment ¬†ESR9: Paula Gragera Alvarez, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Ges√Ļ, Roma, IT
 Effect of ERAP1 modulation on induction of Protective anti tumor immunity  ESR6: Dario Vinicio Guglietta, University of Southampton, UK
¬†In vivo anti-tumour safety and efficacy of NK cell-based immunotherapeutic approach in preclinical models ¬†ESR10: Kamila Kr√≥l, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Ges√Ļ, Roma, IT
 A molecular ecosystem of ERAP four distinct immune cell subsets from patients with ERAP-linked diseases An update  ESR12: Aroosha Raja, University Medical Center Utrecht, NL
 Exploring the role of the ERAP and IRAP aminopeptidases in models of T cell-mediated autoimmunity  ESR8: Nadia Keelan, University of Paris, FR
 Untargeted metabolomic analysis of HLA B27+ rat selected organs by MALDI MSI  ESR13: Adele Ponzoni, Imabiotech, FR
 Development of Drug Delivery Systems for ERAP/IRAP Modulators  ESR14: Filipa da Silva de Vasconcelos, Inocure, CZ
 Cheminformatics Analysis: Ligand & Structure-Based  ESR15: Nikoletta Maria Koutroumpa, NovaMechanics, CY
 Design, synthesis and evaluation of carboxylic acids and bioisosters as potent ERAP/IRAP inhibitors  ESR1: Ben He, ULILLE, FR
 Design and development of ERAP1 modulators by kinetic target-guided synthesis and fragment-based drug discovery.  ESR2: Vasileios Fougiaxis, ULILLE, FR
 Design, synthesis and evaluation of phosphinic transition state analogues of ERAP/IRAP  ESR11: Sandra Llamas Rizo, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, GR
 15:30-16:30 pm  ESRs-Beneficiary "speed-dates"  all participants 


Programme Day 3 ‚Äď 12th May 2023


Transferable Skills training (TS2)


 9:00-12:00 am Academic writing (Part two) Taylor Krohn, University Medical Center Utrecht, NL

Details on presentations

  • The first day¬†kicked off the Summit with a training session on systems immunology perspectives of antigen presentation and T cell responses. Dr. Alex Yermanos (ETH Z√ľrich, CH and UMC Utrecht, NL) delivered an instructional speech on sequencing the single-cell immune repertoire to understand immune recognition and response diversity. Dr. Can KeŇümir (University of Utrecht, NL) discussed the immunogenetics of antigen presentation, demonstrating its predictive potential for T cell epitopes and its relevance to SARS-CoV-2 evolution and vaccination. Dr. Bram Gerritsen (UMC Utrecht, NL) provided insights into systems immunology, emphasizing how pre-vaccination gene expression can predict vaccine response and individual antibody production.¬†The morning talks concluded with Prof. Edd James (University of Southampton, UK), who explored how ERAP1's trimming function shapes T cell responses in autoinflammatory diseases and viral infections.










  • The afternoon session¬†was dedicated to business development and entrepreneurship. Stefan Braam (UtrechtInc, NL) highlighted the growth of early-stage technology startups and emphasized the importance of building networks and collaborations. Dr. Erika Pfaunmiller (Aliri Bioanalysis, FR) discussed how the knowledge and soft skills gained during a Ph.D. can be applied to business development, emphasizing innovation, critical thinking, communication, and negotiation. Dr. Antreas Afantitis (NovaMechanics, CY) and Jonathan Stauber (Aliri Bioanalysis, FR) shared success stories, case studies, and challenges in the field of drug discovery and development, accompanied by a focus on intellectual property. Lea Ackerer (Aliri Bioanalysis, FR) delved into the legislative framework surrounding intellectual property rights, highlighting the role of patent attorneys. Dr. Andreea Ioan ‚Äď Facsinay (Genmab, NL) closed the session by discussing the advantages of working in the biotech industry and promoting Genmab's pipeline in the bio-therapeutics field.

  • To close the day,¬†Dr. Doriana Fruci (Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Ges√Ļ, Rome, IT) shed light on the multifaceted role of ERAP1 in cellular signalling pathways beyond antigen processing. (Picture modified from Tsujimoto et al., Biol. Pharm. Bull. 2020)
  • The second day concentrated on Open Science, EU requirements, data management, plagiarism, and authorship. Dr. Sander W. van der Laan (UMC Utrecht, NL) provided definitions and insights into Open Science, emphasizing the importance of openness, transparency, and knowledge sharing in research. Joanna Plesniak and Jacqueline Strehler (accelopment Schweiz AG, Zurich, CH) presented the EU's perspectives on Open Science and highlighted differences between EU funding programs for research and innovation. Dr. Nico Poppelier (UMC Utrecht, NL) discussed open data, code, and innovative publishing platforms, emphasizing the adoption of FAIR principles. Dr. Marcel van der Heyden (UMC Utrecht, NL) concluded the session by addressing plagiarism prevention and showcasing examples of scientific misconduct.







  • The remaining part of the second day focused on the ESRs' projects. They delivered flash talks, providing updates on their research. Subsequently, the ESRs engaged in "speed-dates" with beneficiaries, offering an opportunity to discuss scientific challenges encountered during their research. In the evening, the organizing committee arranged a delightful city tour along Utrecht's canals, followed by a social dinner event.


  • The third day revolved around Transferable Skills sessions, with a particular focus on Academic Writing. Taylor Krohn (UMC Utrecht, NL) shared general advice on Academic Writing with the ESRs. An interactive workshop followed, where ESRs worked collaboratively to identify and rectify mistakes in texts, aiming to improve clarity and informativeness.

The 5th CAPSTONE Network Summit cprovided ESRs with comprehensive scientific training, business development insights, and transferable skills. The sessions covered diverse topics, ranging from systems immunology and antigen presentation to entrepreneurship, Open Science, and academic writing. The event fostered collaboration, knowledge sharing, and professional growth, empowering the ESRs to excel in their research endeavours.