The Team

Leadership

Prof Dr Martin Widschwendter, FRCOG

Director and Principal Investigator

Scientific Staff

Dr Chiara Herzog

Molecular Medicine

Chiara has a background in molecular medicine and regenerative neuroscience.

She obtained a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Edinburgh in 2019 and has extensive experience in molecular biology, biochemistry and microscopy. Her previous work involved generation and computational analysis of omic data and she joined Martin’s team in July 2020 after gaining valuable professional experience at a precision diagnostics company in Glasgow. She is now working on computational and statistical analysis of epigenetic data and coordinating a key clinical study assessing the impact of lifestyle factors on cancer risk and ageing.

Dr Charlotte Vavourakis

Computational Biology

Charlotte has a background in Molecular Microbiology. She obtained a bachelor’s degree with great distinction in Bio-Engineering Sciences focused on Cellular and Gene Biotechnology from the University of Antwerp.

After successfully completing a master’s degree in Biology at the University of Amsterdam, she received a PhD degree in 2020 on the topic of Aquatic Microbial Ecology and Meta-omics Analyses at the same university. Charlotte is a postdoctoral scientist in the EUTOPS team whose core work is the high-throughput detection of DNA methylation patterns in biological specimens using sequencing and real-time PCR data.

Dr James Barrett

Bioinformatics

James is an expert in bioinformatics and completed his PhD in machine learning at King's College London in 2015.

He joined Martin's group in 2018 and leads the bioinformatics and statistics team. His work focuses on statistical and computational techniques for analysing epigenetic data, the development of new epigenetic cancer tests, and the translation of epigenetic testing to the clinic. His research interests also include the impact of hormones on women's cancer risk and the relationship between aging and epigenetics.

Dr Tatiana Nazarenko

Data Science

After receiving her PhD in Mathematics at Moscow State University in 2014 (in the functional analysis field), Tatiana’s professional focus began to shift to applied questions (mainly biological and medical).

Along with the implementation and development of machine learning algorithms, Tatiana focused on acquiring a deeper understanding of specific features and hidden patterns of real data. In Martin's team, Tatiana is studying the reliability of probes methylation signals under the influence of technical and biological factors and finding solutions to help overcome the negative effect of such factors on the performance and accuracy of analysis on this data type.

Dr Elisa Redl

Laboratory

Elisa is working as a laboratory manager at the EUTOPS Institute in Zams.

After her school education in Innsbruck, she moved to Vienna to study Molecular Biology. She has a strong background in cancer research and epigenetics, especially DNA methylation, with a Master's degree in Molecular Medicine from the University of Vienna and a PhD in Malignant disease, studying the role of DNA methylation for epigenetic reprogramming in NPM-ALK driven lymphomagenesis at the Medical University of Vienna. Elisa started working with Martin in February 2021 and her main contribution to the overall vision is the establishment and maintenance of the new translational epigenetics laboratory in Zams, where we are establishing DNA methylation-based high-throughput analysis pipelines to identify and validate epigenetic signatures for individualised prevention, risk prediction, and early detection of cancer.

Dr Sepideh Aminzadeh-Gohari

Laboratory

Sepideh is a postdoctoral scientist who has worked in the field of cancer metabolism and the role of mitochondria in age-related diseases such as cancer.

 

Dr Amandine Masseron

Laboratory

Amandine is responsible for the flow cytometry experiments carried out in the EUTOPS laboratory in Hall in Tirol. 

Amandine has a microbiology and molecular biology background, with a PhD concerning antibiotic resistance. She has studied in France and Switzerland and since 2020, Amandine has been working in Austria. In Vienna, she worked at TU Wien on the detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater. Amandine commenced her EUTOPS post in September 2022. 

Ms Christine Kastner, BSc

Laboratory

Christine has a background in Molecular biosciences with a BSc Joint degree from Salzburg and Linz University.

She is highly excited to join Martin’s team in 2021. She has previously worked as a Laboratory Technician at the Medical University Innsbruck. Her main role is based in the “wet laboratory” area of the high-throughput laboratory, dealing with sample preparation and processing. 

Ms Isma Ishaq Parveen

Laboratory

Isma is a laboratory technician, having completed her vocational training as a biomedical laboratory technician and also as a chemical quality control technician from Spain.

She began working with EUTOPS in June 2022, and her primary role is in the “wet laboratory” area of the high-throughput laboratory.  Before this, she worked as a research laboratory assistant at "Girona Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBGI)" for five years.

Ms Lena Schreiberhuber, MSc

PhD Student

Lena received her Master’s degree in molecular biology from the University of Vienna in 2021 and is currently employed as a PhD student at the EUTOPS institute in Zams.

After working on Myeloproliferative Neoplasms and JAK-STAT signaling at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, during her Master’s, she joined the laboratory of Prof. Martin Widschwendter at the University of Innsbruck in June 2021. So far, she has been able to obtain thorough knowledge in the field of molecular medicine, mainly covering oncogenic cell transformation, and to focus on state-of-the-art techniques, such as CRISPR/Cas9-dependent gene-editing, mouse experiments or histological analyses. At EUTOPS, however, her PhD studies particularly explore the establishment of epigenetic assays which will potentially help to better understand, diagnose and treat highly aggressive, gynecological malignancies in clinical settings.

Clinical Study Staff

Dr Sandra Plaikner

Study Coordinator

Sandra has a medical, as well as nutrition and food technology background.

She graduated from the Medical University of Innsbruck in 2018 with a degree in human medicine and decided against a clinical career. Instead, she did a Master's degree in Food Technology & Nutrition at the Management Center Innsbruck. She is pleased to be working with the EUTOPS team since 2022 and is currently responsible for the coordination of the LIFE Tirol and SUN Tirol studies.

Dr Sarah Kuppelwieser

General Practitioner

Sarah completed her training as a general practitioner in 2021. Since then, she has worked as a resident physician.

In 2022, she obtained the ÖÄK diploma in nutritional medicine, which sparked her interest in preventive medicine. Sarah is very happy to now be working as a study doctor in the EUTOPS team.

Dr Elisabeth Marth

General Practitioner

Elisabeth graduated as a medical doctor in 1978 from the University of Innsbruck. For more than 30 years she has worked as a specialist in gynaecology and obstetrics.

Following a diploma in psychosomatic one her skill base is in communication with patients. Having been involved with the health of women all of her working life she is looking forward to contributing her knowledge to the EUTOPS team.

Ms Verena Nairz

Dietitian

After training as a health and fitness trainer, Verena decided to study dietetics. 

In the summer of 2022, Verena was able to successfully complete her studies to become a dietologist at the University of Applied Sciences for Health in Innsbruck. Verena is now happy to be part of the EUTOPS Institute and thus part of an interdisciplinary team. She is motivated to contribute her knowledge as a dietician and pleased that she can make a contribution to the health prevention of the population.

Mr Fabian Schmidt, BSc

Dietitian

Fabian graduated in 2022 as a dietician at the Health University for Applied Sciences in Innsbruck.

Fabian works as a dietitian at the LIFE Tirol Study and is very pleased to be a member of the EUTOPS Institute.

Ms Sissy Kainz

Research Nurse

Sissy completed her training as a certified health and nursing assistant in 1989 at the health and nursing school in Lienz.

Until 2007 she worked as a nurse at the BKH Schwaz, where she completed special training in nursing anaesthesia in 2006. Sissy then moved to the private clinic in Zillertal and worked until 2021 as a nursing supervisor and area manager among other roles in the recovery room and anaesthesia at the "Sportclinic Zillertal GmbH". She successfully completed "Basal Intermediate Nursing Management" at the GPZ in Innsbruck in 2016. In addition to her experience as a nurse, she successfully completed training as a "Pharmaceutical Commercial Assistant" at Wifi Tyrol in 2021 and gained practical experience in September 2022 at the Paracelsus Pharmacy in Mils. Her great passion is herbs - in 2022 she completed training as a certified herb grower in Bolzano.

She is very much looking forward to her new task as a research nurse working in the interdisciplinary team and thus making a meaningful contribution to health promotion. 
 

Ms Ingrid Lieb

Research Nurse

Long before she graduated as a qualified health and nursing professional in 2015, Ingrid enjoyed health topics of all kinds with great enthusiasm.

Several months of trekking trips shaped her view of the connections between nutrition, performance and well-being. After many years of working in the geriatric field, she decided to join the EUTOPS team and is looking forward to working with an international and professional team.

Ms Tamara Schmid, BA

Research Nurse

After studying at MCI and gaining practical experience in the tourism and leisure industry, Tamara decided to switch to the healthcare sector.

Her subsequent studies as a nurse at the FH Gesundheit enabled her to pursue a meaningful and caring profession. Tamara sees nursing as a profession with great social responsibility, health promotion, and prevention being particularly important to her. She is very pleased to be able to make an important contribution to the promotion of social health in a highly qualified, interdisciplinary team.

Mr Florian Hofstätter MSc

Sports Scientist

Florian Hofstätter graduated from the University of Innsbruck with an MSc in Sports Science and worked as a project assistant at the Institute of Sports Science.

He is currently working on his dissertation on the topic of "Effects of intermittent fasting and exercise on quality of life and energy supply". His sports background is handball, gymnastics and strength/athletic training. He coaches several adult gymnastics classes and has experience with sports workshops with children in schools.

Away from active sports, he gives lectures on nutrition in sports, as well as training methods, as a training therapist and certified nutrition trainer.
 

Administrative Staff

Dr Sara Sleigh

Strategic Research Coordinator

Sara is a life scientist with a background in chemistry and molecular biology gained during her BSc and DPhil studies at the University of York, UK.

She has authored regulatory submissions documents for new medicines in the pharmaceutical industry, has experience of grant proposal authoring for a wide range of funders including the European Commission, UK Research and Innovation and major charities, and has written extensively for business information publishers on topics of interest to the life science and healthcare industries. She has been working with Professor Widschwendter since 2012, initially as project manager for the FP7-funded EpiFemCare project and subsequently in support of the H2020 FORECEE and European Research Council Advanced Grant (BRCA-ERC). She continues to support new funding applications for all aspects of Professor Widschwendter’s research portfolio.

Ms Irene Künzel

EUTOPS Institute Secretary

Irene is Martin’s PA/secretary. She joined the Institute in February 2020.

Before this, she worked as the assistant to the director of the Training Centre for Physiotherapy at UMIT (Private University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology) since 2004, after completing an apprenticeship as office and wholesale clerk and chief assistant training and working at various other places and companies for a few years.

Affiliated Members

Prof Nora Pashayan

University College London
Public Health & Epidemiology

Nora is a Professor of Applied Cancer Research & honorary Consultant in Public Health Medicine and Head of the Research Department of Applied Health at University College London.

Nora studied Biology and completed an MD at the American University of Beirut. She then completed a Masters in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and a Masters in Public Health at the University of Cambridge, and a PhD at the University of Cambridge on modelling the natural history of prostate cancer and the role of genetic predisposition in cancer progression. She has received a Cancer Research UK Training Fellowship and Clinician Scientist Fellowship. 

Nora’s research is in cancer early detection, investigating biology informed risk-stratified screening strategies to improve the benefit-harm balance and cost-the effectiveness of screening programmes, and ways of implementing such programmes.

Ms Allison Jones, BSc

University College London
Senior Research Associate

Allison completed her BSc in Applied and Human Biology at Aston University, Birmingham in the UK in 1997.

Since her degree, she has accrued almost 20 years’ experience working in cancer research. She began working with Martin in 2006 and ever since has specialised in the role of epigenetics in the development of women specific cancer. During these productive years she lead the UCL laboratory and established the laboratory logistics for two of our major research programmes: EpiFemCare (an FP7 funded programme of research aiming to develop epigenetic based tests for the early detection of breast and ovarian cancers), and, FORECEE (a Horizon 2020 programme of research aiming to develop clinical tests to risk predict future development of women specific cancer). Currently, she is working with our pan-European team on refining numerous early detection and risk prediction tests developed during our research programmes for eventual clinical implementation, with the aim to ultimately progress towards our 2040 vision i.e. 50% reduction of women specific cancer incidence and mortality by 2040.

Dr Iona Evans

University College London
Research Associate

Iona has a background in cell signalling and epigenetics, with a BSc from the University of Wales Cardiff and a PhD from Sheffield University.

She has been working with Martin as part of his UCL team since December 2013, working on various EU funded projects including EPIFEMCARE and FORECEE. Her main role within the team is laboratory-based and involves sample processing and methylation assay design and analysis.

Dr Dan Reisel

University College London
Senior Research Associate

Dan received his PhD in from the University of Oxford in 2005, with a thesis focusing on the molecular anatomy of GluR-A receptors and their role in activity-dependent synaptic plasticity.

After completing his graduate medical training at University College London (UCL), he joined Prof Widschwendter’s group as a full-time post-doctoral fellow. In 2016, Dan was awarded a three-year NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship, during which he supported the research activities in Prof Widschwendter’s group and also completed an MSc in Genomic Medicine at Imperial College. Dan has an interest in the effect of hormones on cancer and establishing new prediction and prevention strategies for female cancers, including epigenetic, metabonomic or other omics-based tools. He also has an interest in implementation-related themes, such as risk communication, genomic testing and informed consent in the genomic/post-genomic era. He combines research with clinical training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Dr Ojone Illah

University College London
PhD Student

Ojone qualified as a medical doctor in 2014 from the University of Warwick.

She has undergone clinical training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and aims to subspecialize in Gynaecological Oncology. Her area of interest is global women’s health, particularly in cervical cancer prevention in low- and middle-income countries. She has participated in several activities internationally to further this objective. Her PhD is investigating epigenetic means of cervical cancer screening in understudied African populations.

Prior to her medical degree, she completed a BSc in Physiology at the University of Edinburgh. Her final year laboratory project investigated factors that affect the expression of a receptor within the renal tubular collecting system. 
 

Dr Mally Scott

University College London
PhD Student

Mally qualified as a doctor in 2010 from Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, going on to undertaken Obstetrics and Gynaecology training in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

He has taken time out of his clinical training to undertake research in gynaecological cancer prevention, firstly through the Margaret Spittle Clinical Research fellowship followed by a PhD, both at UCL. His research interests are in endometrial cancer surveillance and prediction in women with an increased inherited risk as a result of Lynch Syndrome.

His PhD is looking at endometrial surveillance for women with Lynch Syndrome. Assessing current surveillance practice, investigating epigenetic and immunohistochemistry markers and evaluating the acceptability of self-smears for endometrial surveillance.

Dr Twana Alkasalias

Karolinska Institutet
Tumour Biologist

Twana obtained his PhD in Medicine from the Karolinska Institutet in 2018 and has extensive experience in cell and molecular biology. He is interested in understanding why most people remain cancer free throughout their lifetime.

During his PhD, Twana studied tumour microenvironments focusing on non-immune-intercellular surveillance mechanisms. His previous work involved generating 2D and 3D cell culture models, gene editing, drug discovery, and developing high throughput live cell imaging tools. Twana is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Women's and Children's Health at the Karolinska Institutet. He joined Martin Widschwendter and Kristina Gemzell Danielsson‘s team in September 2021.  Currently, he is developing a high throughput 3D organoid-normal breast model to study cancer prevention in women. This study will open new avenues to implement possible therapeutic interventions helping women at risk of developing breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers.

Learn more about EUTOPS

Leadership

Martin Widschwendter is Professor for Cancer Prevention and Screening and the Director of the European Translational Oncology Prevention and Screening (EUTOPS) Institute.

The team

Find out who is contributing to our vision.

Collaborations

We strongly believe in collaborative work.

Publications

Read our scientific publications.

Open positions

We are always interested in working with talented scientists.