JRC event

My experience at the virtual JRC-Summer School in in vitro alternative methods

Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog! This time I want to share with all of you my experience at the digital JRC-Summer School in in vitro alternative methods which was organized by the European Commission. In this blog post I will talk about how nicely the event was organized in a very cute digital platform. Also, I will talk about some of the lectures that I considered the most interesting from a toxicology perspective. Finally, I will tell how amazing the poster, networking and debate sessions were for me and my fellow classmates.

The event

This was a summer school aimed at discussing and exploring novel in vitro approaches in biomedical and toxicological research This is an event that on regular basis is organized at the Joint Research Center at Ispra, Italy, which is part of the European Commission. However, due to the current circumstances, this year the event had to be held in a digital format. The summer school took place from Monday May 17 to Friday May 21. I must admit that at first I was not very excited about the event and was not expecting it to be very nice. Because of course, I really wanted to go to Italy and live and leave the whole experience there.

World Caffe rooms at the virtual JRC platform
Aline Colonnello

But from the very first day, I really liked the event organization and the platform that was chosen. The platform made me feel like if I was playing the videogame Sims. The quality of the graphics and animations really made it feel like if you were inside there. I liked that they digitally created the same rooms that the JRC has in real life. There was an auditorium, an exhibition hall, a world caffe, coffee lounges, information desk and poster wall. Also, in this event there were around 140 participants from several different universities mostly from Europe. Most of the participants were PhD students, although some of us (the whole tox class) were master students and there also some bachelor students. Of course, there were also experts from different biomedical and toxicological fields.

Exhibition Hall at the JRC digital platform
Aline Colonnello

The lectures by the experts

These topics comprehended a very bast part of the whole event, given that half of the days several speakers enlightened us with their expertise on their research areas. For us tox students, most the talks felt very familiar given that were about in vitro testing methods for drug safety and risk assessment of chemicals. Also, because most of the topics comprehended regulatory and legal areas in  which we have been trained during the programme.

Lecture on Chemicals Management at the JRC digital platform
A presentation about Chemical’s Risk Assessment. Aline Colonnello
Annika Hanberg talking about Toxicology education at KI
Our director Annika Hanberg talking about education in Toxicology at KI. Aline Colonnello

Here I share some of the lectures topics that I was most interested about:

  • Organ-on-Chip Technology and its Application for Immunological Research
  • The need to address human relevance and measure impact and innovation of biomedical research
  • Adverse Outcome Pathways (inflammation as hub in AOP networks)
  • Endocrine Disruptors and the Thyroid validation project
  • Chemicals assessment and risk management
Lecture on AOPs at the JRC digital platform
Lecture about AOP’s application at KI. Aline Colonnello

The poster sessions

There were only 2 of the 5 days in which we could present our poster projects with other participants and experts. However, it was super, super fun because we could engage with other students, get to know their work and discover new in vitro methods and technologies. Also, because we could network with other participants, which is always super important!  

Poster exhibitions at the poster walls at the JRC digital platform. On the right, a zoom of my own poster
Poster wall and my poster presented at the summer school. Aline Colonnello

Also, it was amazing that some of us had the honor and privilege to orally present in 3 minutes our poster project to the rest of the audience. Given that I was one of the chosen ones to present, I would like to say that it was an amazing experience, it was super fun and made me feel proud of myself and my work. Also, it made me feel so, so nervous because it was first time I presented something in a so short time and for a huge audience. However, it went all nicely, and we all enjoyed a lot learning from each other’s projects.

Me giving a 3 minute presentation at the JRC
Violetta Nikiforova

Networking sessions with experts and other participants

This was a very nice opportunity to interact with experts in various fields of biomedical and toxicological research. In these cute rooms located in the World Caffé we had the chance to ask question about the speakers presentations, about their expertise on a specific field or simply their opinion on a specific topic, such as organs in a chip to a replacement technology.  Also, at the middle of the summer school we had to chance to visit the marker fair and career event at the exhibition hall. Here we had to chance to interact with scientists working on different fields and companies. We could ask questions such as how has holding a PhD has helped you on your career. Also, what opportunities are out there for us young scientists? Finally, we could interact to some bio-companies who work on innovating technologies to improve in vitro testing.

A digital view of all our networking sessions at the JRC
Aline Colonnello

I hope you enjoyed this blog and that my experience here encourages you to think about participating in this JRC-Summer School! If you have any questions or comments do not hesitate on contacting me!

Aline Colonnello Montero


Aline Colonnello - Toxicology

Aline Colonnello - Toxicology

My name is Aline Colonnello Montero, I am twenty five years old and I come from the wonderful but busy Mexico City. I consider myself to be a perseverant person who works hard to meet all my goals and ambitions. I have a bachelor’s degree in Biology and I currently study the Master’s programme in Toxicology at Karolinska Institutet. My job as part of the digital ambassadors’ team consists on writing blogs


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