our team

research partners

PREMSTEM is a global team of world leading clinicians, researchers, stakeholder advocacy groups and an industrial partner with well-established experience in neonatology and drug development. 

To learn more about each partner, click on the logos below.

cerebral palsy alliance

Group leader: Professor Iona Novak

The Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute has more than 10 years’ experience working together with consumers to help inform research and deliver outcomes with real benefit to the cerebral palsy community. Our research priorities are informed by our clients and their families. This was defined by a 2007 Delphi survey conducted by our research team; the study involved interviewing clinicians, families and researchers to identify a range of questions about cerebral palsy to help direct the future of cerebral palsy research. Our multidisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians conduct meaningful research into the prevention, treatment and cure of cerebral palsy.

Chiesi Farmaceutici S.p.A.

Group leader: Doctor Diego Ardigò

Chiesi Farmaceutici is an international pharmaceutical group based in Parma (Italy) with 85 years’ experience and a strong focus on research and development (R&D) of innovative drugs. For decades, Chiesi has worked alongside the medical community to improve the level of care for preterm babies, developing and bringing to market the leading product for neonatal distress syndrome with more than 4 million babies treated worldwide, combining the biotechnology and advanced therapy expertise with a leading commercial position in the field of neonatology. The Chiesi team for PREMSTEM includes several experts in preclinical, clinical, CMC and regulatory functions, with a consolidated experience in the development of advanced therapy products, including stem cell-based therapies and in neonatal brain injury. The team will provide H-MSCs, scientific/technical support in preclinical studies, and industrial expertise for exploitation of project results.

European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants

Group leader: Professor Luc J.I. Zimmermann

The European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI) is the first pan-European organisation and network to represent the interests of preterm and newborn infants and their families. EFCNI runs EU-wide awareness campaigns to improve maternal and neonatal health. EFCNI initiated and coordinated the European Standards of Care for Newborn Health (ESCNH) project in which some 100 standards for maternal and newborn health were developed together with a multi-professional group of about 220 experts. The EFCNI team includes Ms Aisling Walsh as Senior Project Manager, Professor Luc J.I. Zimmermann as Senior Medical Director and Ms Marisa Huber as Communication Manager. EFCNI leads the communications and dissemination strategy for the PREMSTEM project.


Group leader: Doctor Bruno-Félix Osmanski

ICONEUS is a French start-up fully dedicated to brain imaging by fUS (functional ultrasound). Our technology provides unprecedented features for neurofunctional imaging and brain vascular imaging allowing us to go far beyond the limits and restrictions imposed by fMRI (functional MRI). We are committed to delivering unparalleled tools to the neuroscientific community for pushing forward the limits of current knowledge. As part of the PREMSTEM project, we are excited to help shed new light on brain and central nervous system function, to better understand neuropsychiatric pathologies and to progress towards effective treatments.

Inserm U1141

Group leader: Professor Pierre Gressens

U1141 research team, which is affiliated to Inserm and Université de Paris, brings expertise in the areas of neonatal neurology, neuroinflammation, stem cells, and modelling brain damage to the preterm born infant in small animals. The team members have vast experience in animal modelling (Doctor Juliette Van Steenwinckel, Mrs Leslie Schwendimann, Doctor Cindy Bokobza), cell sorting and phenotyping (Doctor Juliette Van Steenwinckel, Doctor Valérie Faivre, Mrs Sophie Lebon), nanoparticle-based cell targeting (Doctor Juliette Van Steenwinckel, Doctor Cindy Bokobza), primary cell culture (Mrs Tifenn Le Charpentier), bioinformatics (Professor Andrée Delahaye), and scientific management (Doctor Estelle Drobac).

inserm transfert

Project manager: Ms Stéphanie Le Naour

Founded in 2000, Inserm Transfert SA is the private subsidiary of the French National Institute of the Health and Medical Research (INSERM), dedicated to technology transfer (from invention disclosure to industrial partnership). Ms Stéphanie Le Naour is a project manager in the Collaborative Research Funding Department and has 10 years of experience in the management and coordination of EU-funded projects. Ms Delphine Smagghe is deputy director of the Collaborative Research Funding Department and head of the ‘neurosciences and ageing’ group within this department. She has 15 years of experience in helping coordinators to set up and manage their research projects.

Istituto di Neuroscienze del CNR

Group leader: Doctor Claudia Verderio

The mission of the CNR Neuroscience Institute (IN) is to promote the comprehensive knowledge of structural and functional aspects of the nervous system and to encourage the application of scientific knowledge to the development of therapeutic approaches for diseases of the nervous system. IN researchers use a multidisciplinary approach including cellular and molecular biology, physiology, developmental biology, pharmacology and genetics. IN has five main branches in Pisa, Milano, Padua, Parma and Cagliari. Research in the ‘Cell-to-cell signaling’ lab of Doctor Claudia Verderio aims to study the contribution of microglia and astrocytes to brain function in physiological conditions and during neuroinflammatory brain diseases. Particular attention is paid to how glial cells react to and repair from damage in chronic brain disorders and after acute brain insult and to develop new strategies to reprogram glial cells towards beneficial functions. In PREMSTEM, the lab will investigate how H-MSCs direct microglia toward pro-regenerative functions and impact the crosstalk of microglia with oligodendrocytes.

maastricht university

Group leader: Associate Professor Tim Wolfs

The pediatrics lab at Maastricht University focuses on the role of inflammatory stress in fetal and neonatal organs, including intra-amniotic infections, perinatal hypoxia-ischemia and mechanical ventilation, and how this disrupts their development. Associate Professor Tim Wolfs, Doctor Daan Ophelders and Doctor Reint Jellema bring longstanding expertise on pre-clinical ovine models for injury of vulnerable neonates in which the consequences of inflammation stress are studied across the entire life span. These models form a solid basis for clinical translation and enable us to investigate potential clinical immune-modulatory and regenerative interventions, and cell-based therapeutics in particular, to treat adverse outcomes of babies. The group of investigators is completed by Assistant Professor Sabine van Rijt from the MERLN institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine at Maastricht University. She will study the distribution and fate of stem cells using nanotechnology.

Physics for Medicine Paris

Group leader: Professor Mickael Tanter

The laboratory Physics for Medicine Paris (Inserm U1273/ESPCI Paris/PSL University/CNRS) is internationally renowned for its expertise in biomedical ultrasound. Mostly composed of physicists, the lab develops technologies for medical diagnosis and therapy based on innovative concepts of wave physics. The team has contributed to introduce major advances in the field of biomedical ultrasound over the past twenty years. In 2011, the lab introduced a disruptive imaging modality of the brain, using ultrafast ultrasound to combine high imaging performances in a cost-effective and portable bedside technology. The imaging modes pioneered by this team will be further developed for PREMSTEM project.


rmit europe

Group leader: Professor David Walker

The RMIT Australia research team brings expertise in the areas of modelling brain damage to the preterm born infant in small and large animals.

Professor David Walker and Associate Professor Mary Tolcos have vast experience in the surgical approaches required to model brain injury in sheep. The use of sheep as robust pre-clinical models for perinatal brain injury is well established due to similarities in foetal physiology and brain development in humans.

Doctor Bobbi Fleiss is an emerging leader in the field of perinatal brain research, designing and testing neurotherapeutics. She is leading the first stage testing of H-MSC efficacy and was critical to the creation of PREMSTEM due to her previous experience working with the labs involved in Sweden, France, the Netherlands and Italy.

RMIT Europe’s communications expertise will help to raise the profile of PREMSTEM’s research.


Group leader: Doctor Renate van der Molen

The Laboratory of Medical Immunology of Radboudumc, headed by Professor Irma Joosten, is an internationally accredited facility for specialised immune diagnostics and dedicated research on immune regulation of inflammatory and reproductive disorders. Research in this lab is embedded in the Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences. Professor Joosten is widely recognised for her research on T cell mediated immunological tolerance, which is considered an important mechanism behind the postulated protected effects of MSCs. Doctor Renate van der Molen is an expert within the field of immunological disorders and specialised in reproductive immunology. The Radboudumc technology centres provide additional high end facilities required for the PREMSTEM project.

Universitätsklinikum Essen

Group leader: Professor Ursula Felderhoff-Müser

Within 15 years of research experience in the field of developmental brain injury, the Universitätsklinikum Essen laboratory focuses on perinatal brain injury and morbidities triggering encephalopathy of prematurity (EoP). The group focuses on basic molecular and cellular mechanisms of neural cell injury triggered by common paradigms in early life. The group was the first to describe the morphology and pathophysiology of hyperoxia-induced preterm brain injury also combined with inflammation, a model now used in various research groups around the world. Basic research is combined with the evaluation of pharmacological and cellular therapeutics to prevent long-lasting deficits and may pave the way into clinical translation.

Université de Genève

Group leader: Doctor Yohan van de Looij

Doctor Yohan van de Looij is part of the Center for Biomedical Imaging which is the result of a major research and teaching initiative of the partners in the Science-Vie-Société project between the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Université de Lausanne, Université de Genève, Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève and the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois. Doctor van de Looij has extensive experience in the study of various animal models of perinatal brain injuries and what we can learn in these models from MR imaging and spectroscopy. For the PREMSTEM project, this lab will perform all the MRI assessments, including technology transfer of established cutting-edge imaging sequences and leading the world class analysis approaches.

University of Gothenburg

Group leaders: Professor Henrik Hagberg and Professor Carina Mallard

This research lab is part of the Centre of Perinatal Medicine and Health at the University of Gothenburg. Its primary aim is to improve health care for pregnant women and children with the aim of reducing infant mortality and morbidity, and improving their quality of life and participation in society. A consultant in fetal medicine and leading neuroscientist, Professor Henrik Hagberg is one of the world’s most highly cited researchers (h-index = 102) in the field of perinatal brain injury. Professor Carina Mallard has over 190 peer-reviewed publications and has received several accolades for her contributions. Doctor Syam Nair and Doctor Eridan Rocha-Ferreira are two young, talented and promising scientists in this group. The lab has developed small animal and in vitro models for studies on brain injury, inflammation and mitochondria-related mechanisms which are key to the PREMSTEM project.

umc utrecht

Group leader: Doctor Cora Nijboer

The Department of Developmental Origins of Disease (DDOD) and the Department of Neonatology are part of the ‘Woman and Baby’ division of University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU). The two departments have more than ten years’ experience in performing preclinical research into intranasal stem cell application for neonatal brain injury and the underlying regenerative mechanisms in both in vitro and in vivo models. The Department of Neonatology is led by Professor Manon Benders and is a world leader in the field of neonatal neuroscience, high-end neonatal imaging and clinical neuroprotective clinical trials. Professor Benders, Doctor Caroline de Theije and Doctor Cora Nijboer are members of the MASC-prematurity Task Force in which research on stem cell-based therapies for newborns is coordinated.