COST Action Blog: how GenE-HumDi support young researchers


COST Actions are meant to be inclusive which means ensuring a geographic spread of participants, encouraging gender balance, and involving young researchers. So what happens when an Action ensures that participation of young researchers is rooted the very fabric of the network? Let’s find out:

Blogs are written by COST Actions

GenE-HumDi is working to bring together pharmaceutical companies, academic institution, science and regulatory agencies, biotechnology firms, patient advocacy association and information technology, in order to tackle knowledge fragmentation with the aim to accelerate the translation of Genome Editing technologies to the treatment of human diseases.

In GenE-HumDi we have identified young scientists as a key stakeholder for our mission to extend beyond the Action’s life. So young scientists have, from the design of our network MoU, been given a principal role from the Capacity Building Objectives, seeking to inspire and instruct the next generation of gene therapy experts to our search for networking excellence. So what does this look like concretely?

Firstly we established Short-Term Scientific Missions (STSM) and Inclusiveness Target Country (ITC) grants to promote young scientist mobility and nurture their scientific experience and networking abilities. The Action also contributes to educational initiatives such as Summer Schools. We also want to give young researchers a forum to express themselves and actively take part, and for that purpose we invited network member Laura Torella, a young researcher herself, to give a voice to the younger members of GenE-HumDi as our ‘Young Researchers Coordinator’.

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“Being entrusted by COST to lead the youth in our Action fills me with immense pride and excitement. It’s a testament to the trust they have in our potential to make meaningful contributions to the scientific community, especially in areas like gene editing. I strongly believe that our Young Researchers community is growing in such an exciting scientific season. Gene editing is a current reality, and us as young researchers can’t do any better than stay up to date with its innovation and be involved, from bench to bedside.”

Laura Torella, Young Researchers Coordinator of GenE-HumDi

GenE-HumDi officially kicked off in September 2022 and in our first year we awarded several Short-Term Scientific Missions that granted young investigators a short stay in leading laboratories abroad. All participants were kind enough to later share their experiences and gist of their research in an online conference for our wider network. We also had many students participating in a Training School organised at GENyO (Spain) and in a summer course organised at Aarhus University (Denmark). Recently in our second GenE-HumDi Conference and General Meeting held in Limassol (Cyprus), we had many young investigators participating with scientific talks or presenting posters.

Participants at the 2023 GeneHumdi summer course at Aarhus University on ‘Genetic Engineering using CRISPR/Cas’

And what do the young researchers have to say about their experiences with GenE-HumDi? Iris Ramos, one of our STSM awardee’s in 2023, visited Dr Manuel A.F.V. Gonçalves in Leiden (Netherlands) to learn advanced epigenome analysis for her project ‘CX3CR1 Intron 4 Knock-In: A Novel Endogenous Protective Regulation for Expression Cassette during Stem Stages in HSP’.

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“Thanks to this STSM, I had the chance to join for one month the pioneering gene editing team lead by Manuel A.F.V Gonçalves at LUMC. This opportunity not only helped me to reach the scientific goal we established, but also resulted on a synergistic network between both research groups. Sharing the goal to enhance current gene editing protocols by studying the fundamental epigenome dynamics following the editing process, we agree the STSM was an absolutely success.”

Iris Ramos, STSM grantee

Now thanks to the initiative of Laura Torella we are taking the next step and launching the ‘Young Researcher Seminar Series‘ to further foster early career member roles and to raise the network appeal for young talent.

A major goal of our network is helping early career investigators and young scientists and professionals in the GenE-HumDi network to build new abilities. As such we have invite renowned science and field leaders to our seminar series. These figures inspire many of us, yet they are hard to reach because of their complicated schedules. With this initiative we pursue to provide an opportunity for young investigators and early career members to be able to reach these leaders and provide the space for personal interaction. We hope this can be an encouraging or even transformative experience for many young members and a great way to strengthen our network and promote colligability.

Our goal in starting this series is to nurture the next generation of genome editing experts and contribute to its growth by giving them a forum where they can express themselves and drive the conversations about therapeutic genome editing. We look forward to see what comes out of it.

So mark your calendars for our inaugural session on May 20th at 10 am CEST. Our first expert, Marc Güell, will discuss ‘Strategies and tools for ex vivo and in vivo genome editing.’

What could we say to young scientist and professionals considering to get onboard on the genehumdi activities? Laura captures this perfectly: “To other young individuals who are undecided about joining or participating in COST activities, I would say this: seize the opportunity! COST offers a unique platform for networking, learning and collaboration. It’s a chance to be part of something bigger, to contribute to cutting-edge research, and to grow both personally and professionally. Don’t hesitate to join us, be enthusiastic, proactive, and never doubt your own level of experience.”

Further events in this Young Researcher Seminar Series will be announced so if any of this content or future grant opportunities are appealing to you, we invite to follow further announcements on our website and our social media: @genehumdi on X and our GenE-HumDi LinkedIn webpage.


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Dr Fco. Javier Molina Estevez
GenE-HumDi Science Communication Coordinator