Marco Silvestri is an EACR Travel Fellowship recipient who returned from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden in July 2022.

The EACR has joined forces with Worldwide Cancer Research to provide Travel Fellowships of up to €3,000 to enable early-career cancer researchers to gain new skills through a short-term visit to a lab or research group in another country.

You can read about other Travel Fellowship awardees and their experiences here.

Marco Silvestri

Name: Marco Silvestri
Job title: PhD student
Home institute: Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori di Milano, Università degli Studi di Brescia, Italy
Host institute: Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Dates of visit: 14 May – 31 July 2022
Research: The goal of our project (awarded by AIRC-Italian Association for Cancer Research) is to generate a tool for monitoring cancer evolution under treatment pressure taking advantages from genomic, transcriptomic and clinical data of cholangiocarcinoma donors to provide new insights for the comprehension of tumor heterogeneity and progression within individual patients. Finally, we also expect to generate a useful framework not only for the evaluation of cholangiocarcinoma but also for other tumor types. In this context, the experience at Karolinska Institutet was fundamental for the development of the project.

Why did you decide to apply for an EACR Travel Fellowship?

The EACR is an amazing organisation involved in cancer research that, alongside organising and hosting high-profile conferences, supports the work and the projects of many researchers around the world. As such, the decision to apply for an EACR Travel Fellowship to support my period abroad was simple.

Why did you choose the host lab?

The choice of Dr. Trung Nghia Vu’s research group is related to their very high level of competence and publications in the field of statistical and computational methods for cancer genomics data. Indeed, their publications about computational approach in cancer genomics are considered milestones in the field.

Marco with all the host colleagues at Karolinska Institutet

What was a typical day like during your visit?

Usually, my work day took 7 or 8 hours and, due to the inclusive and international environment in my department, I was never alone for lunch or coffee break (“fika”). After work, I usually spent my time in the gym on campus, which was totally free for the employees and really good for different sport activities.

What were you able to do that you could not have achieved in your home lab?

The competencies between my home and the host lab are different but complementary in the area of cancer genomics. The home lab is mainly devoted to wet lab procedure with great skills in sample handling and data generation using NGS platforms. On the contrary, the hosting lab is deeply focused on the establishment of computational methodologies to analyse cancer data, with a great knowledge of biostatistics, bioinformatic approaches and programming ability. With these premises, my visit to Karolinska Institute improved my computational expertise and, importantly, the multidisciplinary approach in my home lab.

Did you have a personal mentor who particularly helped you?

I have to say big thank you to Dr. Nghia Vu and Prof. Yudi Pawitan, both of whom were fundamental in my experience at Karolisnka Institutet, giving me a lot of advice and support for my project. Another thank you to my supervisor Prof. Stefano Calza: without him the experience at Karolinska Institutet could not have been possible.

How has the trip inspired you?

Stockholm is an amazing city bringing together both the “dark” and “light” of life. Living there helped me not only to improve my project and skills, but also to better understand myself.

Want to find out more?

If you are interested in applying for the Travel Fellowship scheme, please click here for more information: EACR Travel Fellowships.