Disc4All Press Releases

  • Terence McSweeney is the Early Stage Researcher 4 in the European project “Disc4All”

    Terence McSweeney is the Early Stage Researcher 4 - PhD candidate in the European project "Disc4All". He trained originally as an osteopath at the British College of Osteopathic Medicine and went on to lecture there and at Swansea University. He received a MSc in Pain Management from the University of Edinburgh and a PGCert in Teaching in HE from Swansea University. As an osteopath he has worked in a wide range of clinical settings including the NHS in the UK and private practice in Bahrain. Now he has returned to academia full time as an Early Stage Researcher with Disc4All at the University of Oulu, Finland. His research uses deep learning and multi-omics approaches to tackle the interpretation of imaging data in intervertebral disc degeneration.

  • Narasimharao (Nash) Kowlagi, Early Stage Researcher 15 in the European Project “Disc4all”

    Narasimharao (Nash) Kowlagi is the Early Stage Researcher 15 - Ph.D. candidate affiliated to the University of Oulu for the European Project "Disc4all". He has a bachelor's degree in Computer Science & Engineering and a master's degree in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. Before Disc4all, he was working for Accenture (~15 years) providing digital solutions for clients internationally. With the Disc4all project, he is excited to pursue his passion for AI in Healthcare and aims to apply his expertise in computer vision to study various medical image modalities. His primary research involves patient stratification by combining clinical and MRI (Spine) data using deep learning techniques and the need for psychological assessments for the patients having lower back pain (LBP).

  • Estefano Muñoz Moya, Early Stage Researcher 14 in the European Project “Disc4All”

    Estefano Muñoz Moya is the Early Stage Researcher 14 - PhD candidate in the European Project "Disc4All". He has a degree in Engineering Sciences with a mention in Mechanical Engineering (2017), Civil Engineering (2020), and obtained his Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering (2020) from the University of Santiago de Chile. He has dedicated his previous research to two Chilean projects through experimental tests and numerical simulations. His current research focuses on systematizing multiscale modelling of intervertebral disc regularization during degeneration. Molecular/cell and tissue/organ scale models are locally integrated into areas of interest, thus generating an intelligent atlas of simulated data. This will allow the extraction of simulated and real data altogether and the spatio-temporal evolution of degeneration, characterized by specific hierarchies of risk factors and exploitable clinically.

  • Sofia Tseranidou, Early Stage Researcher 13 in the European Project “Disc4All”

    Sofia Tseranidou is the Early Stage Researcher 13 - PhD candidate in the European Project “Disc4All”. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Mathematics and Physical Sciences in the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) in 2017, while at the same time completed her internship in the Onassis Cardiac Centre of Athens as an assistant to the department of the CT. In 2020 she received her Master’s Degree in Computational Biomedical Engineering in the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF). Her thesis focused in the mechanobiology of the intervertebral disc cartilage endplate. She is a member of the Department of Information and Communication Technologies (DTIC) in UPF, and the aim of her research is the multiscale modelling of the mechanism that take part during intervertebral disc regulation. She explores the dynamics of the cell activity and how it contributes to the tissue turnover to specific regions of interest, by modelling and simulating bottom-up processes of tissue regulation. The results might help the biomedical field by enhancing patients’ general well-being suffering from low back pain (LBP).

  • Katherine Crump, Early Stage Researcher 10 in the European Project “Disc4All”

    Katherine Crump is the Early Stage Researcher 10 - Ph.D. candidate in the European Project "Disc4All". She received her B.S in biomedical engineering at University of Virginia, and then went on to work at a startup and do research at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute before returning to the University of Virginia for her Masters. In her Masters research, she developed a computational model of long-term muscle degeneration in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. With Disc4All, she is very excited to apply her knowledge to combine computational modeling and tissue engineering to improve understanding of the intervertebral disc. The PhD involves an interaction of in silico modeling and evaluating parameters in vitro in organ culture models, such as glucose and lactate concentration, cell survival, and pro-inflammatory cytokines. These models will be evaluated in 3D cell, tissue, and organ cultures involving mechanical stimulation.

  • Exarchos Kanelis, Early Stage Researcher – 11 in the Project “Disc4all”

    Exarchos Kanelis is the Early Stage Researcher – 11, a PhD candidate in the Project “Disc4all”, which uses Intervertebral disc degeneration as a case study for forming a novel approach on how multifactorial disorders could be addressed. He has a BSc in “Molecular Biology & Genetics” from Democritus University of Thrace and an MSc in “Biotechnology” from the Technical University of Denmark. After his studies, he worked in Oxford - UK for two years gaining experience in assay development for biosensors and DNA/RNA sequencing products. His PhD project will take place in Protatonce, a biotechnology company located in Athens, Greece and is specialised in multiplex assay development & production , biomarker discovery, biomarker performance and compound evaluation. He will be using the Luminex technology for analysing hundreds of intracellular and extracellular proteins in order to identify differences in the proteomic profiles between healthy and LDD cells. He will also use in silico and bioinformatic tools to propose the Cell Signalling Pathways that are activated in LDD and propose mechanism-based biomarkers.

  • Ahmad Alminnawi, Early Stage Researcher -12 in the European Project “Disc4All”

    Ahmad Alminnawi is the Early Stage Researcher 12 – Ph.D. candidate in the European Project "Disc4All". Graduated with a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering from the Lebanese American University in Lebanon (2018) and with an M.Sc. in Bioengineering from Osaka University in Japan (2021), Ahmad Alminnawi defines himself as an international person with multidisciplinary knowledge and experience. He is currently working as a researcher within a collaboration between Université de Liège and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium on the topic of "In vitro and in silico modeling of cartilage endplate degeneration mechanisms" to unravel the source of the largest cause of morbidity worldwide which is lower back pain.

  • Paola Bermudez-Lekerika, Early Stage Researcher 9 in the European Project “Disc4All”

    Paola Bermudez-Lekerika is the Early Stage Researcher 9 - PhD candidate in the European Project "Disc4All". She graduated from the University of Navarra with a Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry (20.17) and Biochemisty (2019). Afterwards, she obtained her Master's Degree in Biomedical Research with a speciality in Regenerative Medicine and Advanced Therapies. Her current position is based in Tissue Engineering for Orthopaedics & Mechanobiology Lab, Department of Biomedical Research (DBMR), University of Bern. Her research focuses on understanding the key catabolic phenotypes involved in Intervertebral Disc Degeneration (IDD) and identifying in silico potential gene variants associated with this disease. Identification of these phenotypes and genetic variants could lead to a better understanding of IDD.

  • Before a spine operation, the risks can be better predicted thanks to a UPF study with Hospital del Mar and Vall d’Hebron University Hospital