Marco Ferniani from the Federico II University of Naples was awarded one of ESDR’s European Skin Science Travel Awards (ESSTA). Here he talks about his experience of visiting CECAD in Cologne.

ESDR: What was the purpose of your visit?

Marco Ferniani: The purpose of my visit was to learn about organotypic culture of the skin to better understand the role of certain genes in skin differentiation and stratification and in skin cancer formation.

ESDR: How was the experience of your visit and what key things did you take back to your department.

Marco Ferniani: I studied the role of certain genes involved in the regulation of the cell cycle of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma and deepened my knowledge in the mitotic surveillance pathway, trying to understand if there is an involvement in skin cancer.

I enjoyed my visit in Cologne and it was a nice opportunity to learn new laboratory skills. During my visit, I was taught new cell culture techniques that I can incorporate into my future work (such as the organotypic culture). These new techniques have enhanced my research skills and I hope to introduce them in my research work for my PhD program.

ESDR: What is your research focus over the coming year?

Marco Ferniani: I will continue to study the role of certain genes involved in the sustaining of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma and introducing new aspects to this topic based on my experience abroad.

ESDR: Any other thoughts you wish to share?

Marco Ferniani: The experience in Cologne was a big change and I enjoyed life in this dynamic and multicultural city. Cologne gave me the opportunity to meet new people from all over the world with a unique common interest: the love for science. The ESSTA gave me not just an opportunity to learn new laboratory skills and experience a different culture, but also introduced me to a great team at the CECAD institute, who made me feel at home. All members of the lab were so open and friendly to me. On my last day in the lab the group organised a trip to an adventure park followed by a BBQ together in the evening. I thank the ESDR for this great opportunity and special thanks to Carien Niessen and Hisham Bazzi for making me feel part of their lab.