YMNSC –Young MNS Committee members
MNS is committed to providing extensive support for young researchers and fostering their career advancement at all stages. In order to bridge the gap between the needs of young members and the MNS Council, the Young MNS Committee (YMNSC) has been established.

The primary objective of the YMNSC is to promote active participation of young neuroscientists in the Mediterranean region within the scientific community. It places special emphasis on individuals working in low-income countries. The committee takes the lead in initiating various programs and activities that facilitate the training and transition of students towards independence. Moreover, it actively addresses the interests, needs, problems, and concerns of young neuroscientists in the Mediterranean area.

To ensure effective communication and dissemination of information, the YMNSC utilizes social media platforms and newsletters to relay relevant updates on Education in Neuroscience and MNS activities.

The overarching mission of the YMNSC is to strengthen the MNS young community and provide a platform for young neuroscientists to express their perspectives on the future of Neuroscience in different regions of the Mediterranean area.

Furthermore, the YMNSC holds a significant role in the decision-making processes of the MNS Council. By actively participating in council meetings, the YMNSC offers valuable advice on matters concerning early career scientists. Additionally, they contribute to the development of tailored programs and activities that cater to the specific needs of young researchers.

The YMNSC is committed to fostering the growth and success of young neuroscientists within the MNS community, enabling them to contribute to the future of Neuroscience in the Mediterranean area.

Abdelhalim Islam Ayman Abdelhalim Islam Ayman (Egypt)

I’m an Assistant Lecturer of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the School of Pharmacy at Galala University since 2022. I earned a degree from the Euro-Mediterranean Masters of Neuroscience and Biotechnology program (EMN) in July 2021 after defending my thesis entitled “Model of B-amyloid pathology in hippocampal organotypic cultures”, in which I have studied the interplay of astrocytes/microglia in Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Since graduating with a bachelor’s in Pharmacy in 2011, I worked in different areas of the health sector, including basic biomedical research and industrial pharmaceutical research. I joined international projects learning a handful of practical and computational techniques and acquired experience in molecular biology, cell biology, biochemical, live (2-Photon) and confocal imaging, electron microscopy imaging, and animal handling. In the light of the above-mentioned tracks, I aspire to be a neuropharmacologist. Looking forward to pursuing research studying the paradigms beneath meticulous structuring and functioning of the nervous system, and deciphering underlying cellular and molecular interplay in normal and disease cases. By joining YMNSC, I aim at sowing a seed to a sequel of networking and channeling activities among Egyptian universities, and to collaborate with international neuroscience communities.
Ben Fradj Selma Ben Fradj Selma (France)

I am a French-Tunisian student, born and raised in France with Tunisian origin - I got the chance to have this double culture. I did a MSc in Cellular Biology and Pathophysiology in Paris. Then, I obtained my PhD in Physiology in Dijon in 2020. I was interested in the study of postprandial inflammatory and endotoxemic responses after a healthy or a high-fat meal. I demonstrated, for the first time, the existence of a specific postprandial hypothalamic inflammatory response dependent on nutritional status by characterizing the morphology of microglial cells with confocal microscopy and 3D reconstruction. Afterward, I joined the CNRS in the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology in Sophia-Antipolis in France since 2021 as a postdoctoral researcher. I work on the link between metabolic diseases and the brain, especially on the role of chemokines and their receptors in the neuroinflammation associated to obesity and type 2 diabetes. During these years, I also taught practical animal biology courses to bachelor students. I aspire to be a brilliant researcher in my field. I am also a member of an association helping Tunisian orphans (AORTI), on the behalf of which I regularly organize solidarity events.
Bou Sader Nehme Sarah Georges Bou Sader Nehme Sarah Georges (France)

Born in Lebanon, I obtained my Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and graduated with a Master in Cellular and Molecular Genetics from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK). I am currently enrolled in a joint PhD between France (Institute of Neurodegenerative Disorders) and Lebanon (Holy Spirit University of Kaslik), and I am currently working at the University of Bordeaux, France. My passion for research has driven me to pursue a thesis in Neurosciences, a decision reinforced by the increasing prevalence of neuropsychiatric disorders in Lebanon and the lack of resources to study these conditions. The objective of my thesis is to understand the inflammatory mechanisms at the origin of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and its comorbid pain. With expertise in molecular biology and histochemical techniques, and using a panel of transcriptomic and proteomic methods, I aim to discern whether neuroinflammation underpins the pathophysiology of these two conditions. Indeed, the identification of shared mechanisms, engaging overlapping neuronal circuits and inflammation, and underlying both disorders, is crucial for more effective treatments. Following my PhD thesis, I aspire to work as a basic neuroscientist to decipher the role of neuroinflammation in the development of neurological disorders, along with pursuing an editorial career.
Brancato Anna Brancato Anna (Italy)

I am Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at the Department ProMISE - School of Medicine, and a member of the Laboratory of Neuropsychopharmacology of Prof. Carla Cannizzaro, at the University of Palermo, Italy. My main research focus is to unveil the mechanisms of vulnerability to substances of abuse, such as alcohol and THC, during sensitive neurodevelopmental windows. My research interest is currently devoted to unravelling the consequences of alcohol binge drinking during adolescence on affective behaviour and neuropeptidergic systems, complemented by exploring possible rescue strategies. My background includes a PharmD, a PhD in Neuroscience and Behavioural Disorders, and extensive training as a behavioural pharmacologist, always keeping in mind that ‘brains have owners’ (Yong, 2017). My area of expertise embraces animal models of drug abuse and stress, analysis of affective, affiliative, and social behaviour in rats, immunofluorescence, PCR, and ELISA evaluations of stress-related neuropeptides and synaptic proteins. I am involved in Brain awareness activities and substance abuse monitoring in the academic context. My future goal is to develop refined and more predictive animal models to empower translational research in neuropsychopharmacology.
Ciscato Maria Ciscato Maria (France)

I am a PhD student of the Neurophysiology and Behavior team at ESPCI ParisTech & PSL Research University, Paris, France. I’m working in the field of nicotine addiction, with a focus on the molecular, cellular and circuit mechanism by which the interpeduncular nucleus (IPN) regulates nicotine consumption. To do so, I take advantage of novel optopharmacological and chemogenetic tools to manipulate the activity of nicotinic receptors in the IPN circuit. I am currently employing an array of behavioral tests to measure nicotine reward and patch clamp electrophysiology. In the past, I’ve had experience on behavioral testing in zebrafish and rats, self-administration paradigms, and binding and GTPgS assays. I have a bachelor in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Trento in Italy, after which I obtained a master in Fundamental Neuroscience at Maastricht University, in the Netherlands. After my PhD, I am considering either continuing in research as a basic neuroscientist or shifting to healthcare data analysis.
Dinis Alves Nuno Dinis Alves Nuno (USA)

I am a Junior Researcher at the Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS), University of Minho (Braga, Portugal). I performed my postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Dr. Ansorge and Dr. Gingrich (Columbia University, New York). My main research interest is to dissect the involvement and contribution of specific serotonergic projections to behavior. Currently, I am investigating the specific importance of serotonin release in the brain and the gut epithelium to emotional and cognitive behaviors and how we can revert impairments in those behaviors in neuropsychiatric disorders. I have wide expertise in behavioral neuroscience, adult mechanisms of neural plasticity, neuronal circuitries, and training in various in vivo methodologies, including rodent models of disease, electrophysiology, viral approaches, fiber photometry, optogenetics and a broad range of behavioral assessments (anxiety, depression, and cognition). I have been active in the scientific community, advocating for fellow young researchers, and helping in the organization of scientific and outreach events. I also played several active roles in diverse organizations and scientific societies. My future goal is to secure an independent position and, though a translational perspective, address research questions that ultimately aim to unravel novel therapeutic strategies to rescue behavioral dysfunctions in mental illness.
Dridi Aya Dridi Aya (Tunisia)

I am a Tunisian student currently enrolled in the International EMN online Master's program in Neuroscience and Biotechnology at the University of Tunis El Manar, Faculty of Science of Tunis. My passion for neurobiological pathologies - with a specific focus on understanding the cellular communication mechanisms in healthy multicellular organisms and the causes of brain-related diseases - prompted this academic choice. Having completed a second master's degree in biochemistry, I benefited considerably from the thorough teachings on chromatography methods and the therapeutic potential of phytochemicals in neurobiological pathologies. As an advocate for brain awareness, I aim to bridge my knowledge of biochemistry and neuroscience to promote research on neurological diseases in Tunisia. Likewise, as a firm believer in the need to connect mental health to brain health, through my work in civil society and environmental organizations I have, avidly, endeavored to sensitize others of the impact of a healthy lifestyle on neuroscience. Ultimately, motivated as I am to add my own stamp in an evergreen branch of knowledge, I aspire to become a neuroscientist and contribute to the advancement of research in this exciting field.
El Marzouki Hajar El Marzouki Hajar (Morocco)

I obtained my PhD in Neuroscience, and I am currently a collaborative researcher at Biology and Health Laboratory, Unit of Clinical and Cognitive-Behavioural Neurosciences and Applied Nutrition Health, Ibn Tofail University, Morocco. My main research interests are neurobiology of stress, Cognitive and Behavioral neurosciences and Neuronal electrophysiology. Specifically, I am interested in sex differences in stress-induced neurobehavioral and physiological disorders and in the influence of steroid hormones and neurotransmitters. Within the laboratory, I investigate the effects of experiences with a battery of behavioral tests to evaluate learning, memory and anxiety levels. To assess sex difference in hippocampal synaptic plasticity I examine hippocampal long-term potentiation at perforant pathway-dentate gyrus synapses in vivo. In addition, I use different techniques for steroid hormones and neurotransmitters analysis, contributing to a solid background in cognitive and behavioral neurosciences with significant expertise in electrophysiology, stereotaxic surgery and behavioral testing in rats. I am a member of the Mediterranean Society of Neurosciences (MNS) and an IBRO alumna. My career goal is to be a basic neuroscientist and continue researching neural mechanisms underlying cognition and behavior, but I am also open to exploring a career in academia or industry.
Knezovic Ana Knezovic Ana (Croatia)

I am Research Associate at the Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb, Croatia. My main field of scientific interest is focused on the field of neuropharmacology and neuroendocrinology of neurodegenerative disorders with an emphasis on the influence of insulin resistance in the brain and brain metabolism. Projects on which I am currently working include the study of:

- the potential of methylphenidate to alleviate early neurobehavioral alterations and prevent cognitive decline in the rat model of sporadic Alzheimer's disease;
- modeling Parkinson's disease by intrastriatal administration of the diabetogenic compound streptozotocin;
- the role of transthyretin in sporadic Alzheimer’s disease-associated leptomeningeal and cerebrovascular amyloidosis and neuroprotective potential of a brain directed tafamidis prodrug.

I graduated in Molecular Biology at the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Croatia, (2008), completed my PhD in 2015 at the School of Medicine of the same University, and I am currently involved in the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree Programme in Brain and Data Science – NeuroData. My main technical expertise is in animal models of neurodegeneration, behavioural testing, biochemical analysis, protein expression and activity research.
Mancini Giulia Mancini Giulia (Italy)

My research focuses on the link between stressful/traumatic experiences and stress-related disorders development (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder; PTSD). I am currently working on a project aims at investigating the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the susceptibility/resilience to PTSD development in rats. I have been working on animal models since 2016 and I performed transcriptomic analysis within the rat brain during my post-doc period in Leiden University Medical Center (The Netherlands). I gave Lectures on drugs of abuse induced effects within the brain to high school students in Rome, Italy (SPERA Project). My future goals are to be an independent principal investigator in the academy and to lead my research projects in my own laboratory. My research questions are driven by the desire to produce translational science, and I would like to focus my research on the development of novel pharmacological tools to treat stress-related disorders.
Morais Pinto Tatiana Morais Pinto Tatiana (Malta)

I am a Postdoctoral Researcher at Malta University, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery. I hold a bachelor’s in health sciences and a master’s in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Lisbon. During my PhD I moved to Cardiff University to join Prof. Vincenzo Crunelli’s Lab, to pursue my PhD in the field of Absence Epilepsy under the funding of a Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN. My research activity is focused on Absence Seizures and related comorbid memory deficits. As a neuropharmacologist, I explore how GABA, serotonin and cannabinoids can modulate the disease. I have expertise in surgery and recording of microinjection and EEG in freely moving rats and mice as well as in molecular biology techniques ranging from Primary cultures of brain cells to PCR, immunostaining, and shRNA to GABA uptake. I am involved with public engagement, from frequent visits to schools to brain week advocate, with the aim to educate about brain diseases and discrimination patients suffer daily. I am a member of the Native Scientist and serve in the Portuguese Pharmacology Society Young Council. As for the future, I aspire to be a basic neuroscientist in the area of epilepsy and educate and raise awareness to brain diseases.
Pavlidi Pavlina Pavlidi Pavlina (Greece)

I am a dedicated neuroscience researcher, with a primary focus on neuropsychopharmacology. As a Doctorate Student at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, I am studying the mechanism of action of the newly discovered G protein-coupled estrogen receptor 1 (GPER1) in rodents' brains and its potential connection to the development of depression in both sexes. Previously, I have conducted a master's degree in Translational Neuroscience at the Imperial College in London, where I explored age-related cognitive deficits in healthy animals. At the Netherlands Institute of Neuroscience in Amsterdam, I studied the relationship between cognitive inflexibility, habit formation, and compulsivity in a knock-out mouse model. My skills include behavioral testing, stereotactic surgeries, and high-performance liquid chromatography. In addition to my research, I am actively involved in advocacy and open science initiatives, including the "PEERS - Platform for the Exchange of Experimental Research Standards" project, which promotes open science and reproducibility in biomedical research. I presented data from my research at several neuroscience conferences, including the ECNP Congress, the FENS Forum, the Mediterranean Neuroscience Society Meeting, and the ECNP Workshop. I aspire to be a neuropsychopharmacologist with the ultimate goal to identify innovative therapeutic approaches for mood disorders.
Prvulovic Milica Prvulovic Milica (Serbia)

I am Research Assistant at the Department of Neurobiology, Institute for Biological Research "Sinisa Stankovic" (IBISS), National Institute of the Republic of Serbia University of Belgrade, and PhD student at the Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade, Serbia. My research interests include brain aging, caloric restriction, nutrition and animal behavior. My ongoing PhD research focuses on the role of onset and duration of caloric restriction and sex specificity. A particular focus is on animal frailty status, behavior (including motor skills, anxiety, learning, and memory), and changes in expression of key proteins of the mTOR signaling pathway. In addition to the topic of my PhD, I am involved in several projects related to age-related neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's diseases in particular), different nutritive approaches (fermented foods, chrononutrition), synaptic plasticity, and cholesterol metabolism in the brain. My technical skills include animal behavior, Western Blot, immunohistochemistry, data analysis, and statistics. I am an active member of COST Action CA20128, Promoting Innovation of ferMENTed fOods (PIMENTO). I would like to stay in basic neuroscience and focus on optimizing nutritional approach according to a person's age and health status to extend healthspan and prevent age-related cognitive decline, neuroinflammation, and neurodegeneration.
Sanz-Magro Adrian Sanz-Magro Adrian (Spain)

I am a PhD student at the Cajal Institute, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Madrid, Spain. My research focuses on the molecular determinants of neuronal vulnerability and neuronal circuits of non-motor symptoms in Parkinson´s disease.
I studied Biomedicine at the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares (Spain) and, later on, I specialized with master and PhD degrees in Neuroscience at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain). I am a multi-disciplinary scientist that combines behavioural testing, anatomical techniques (immunohistochemistry, stereology and neuronal structure reconstruction) and molecular approaches (ELISA, western Blot and RT-qPCR), and have expertise in Parkinson´s disease mice models.
Beyond my research activity, I participated in science dissemination and communication activities, attended national and international specialized congress and gave talks for general audience. I have also participated actively in the formation of students at my university, giving informative talks and training in the lab.
My objective is to continue my formation as a basic neuroscientist, trying to explore the determinants of cell death in Parkinson’s disease, aiming to identify new therapies that improve the quality of life of patients.
Vandaele Youna Vandaele Youna (France)

I am postdoctoral fellow at the laboratory of Experimental and Clinical Neuroscience at INSERM, University of Poitiers, France. The goal of my research is to understand the behavioral and neurobiological bases of maladaptive behaviors characterizing psychiatric disorders, such as addiction, using animal models. During my PhD at the University of Bordeaux (France), I investigated the pharmacological and behavioral determinants of choice between drugs of abuse and sweet water, in a rodent model of addiction. During my postdoc at Johns Hopkins University (USA), my research aimed at dissecting the behavioral determinants and neural underpinnings of habitual reward seeking behavior. I am currently working with Dr. Nathalie Thiriet on a research project aimed at investigating the role of brain cholesterol metabolism on drug-seeking behavior in a rat model of relapse. I aspire to develop an independent line of research with the objective of constructing a new theoretical framework integrating my long-standing interests in habit, choice, and animal models of addiction. I am eager to promote diversity in neuroscience and to help the public learn about the brain through outreach events.
Yiğit Ünlü Galip Yiğit Ünlü Galip (Turkey)

I am a PhD student from Turkey currently enrolled at the University of Malta in the Neuroscience program offered by the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery. I am working on a project with Professor Giuseppe Di Giovanni entitled “Cannabinoid Modulation of The Stress Response in Normal and Epileptic Gaers Rats: Involvement of The Serotonin System”. I got my Bachelor’s degree from Middle East Technical University (METU), Psychology Department (Turkey). After my bachelor’s, I moved to Italy to get my Master’s degree in Psychology, Neuroscience, and Human Sciences program from the University of Pavia. During both my Bachelor’s and Master’s studies, I had opportunities to be a Research Assistant to my professors from different fields of psychology and neuroscience, which helped me to increase my interdisciplinary working skills. Once completed my PhD studies at the University of Malta, I would like to continue my academic career with post-doctoral research and become a successful researcher and academician.
Anastasia Vamvaka Anastasia Vamvaka (Greece)

I am a PhD student at the National Centre for Scientific Research "Demokritos" at the Institute of Biosciences & Applications. My research interests lie in understanding the intricate mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration, particularly the interplay between genetic and environmental factors in the development of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease. Currently, my PhD research is focused on investigating the potential therapeutic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in alleviating stress and combating the pathological processes associated with Alzheimer's disease. Prior to my doctoral studies, I completed my master's degree at the University of Ioannina and the Biomedical Research Foundation Academy of Athens, where I delved into the mechanisms of alpha-synuclein seeding in oligodendrocytes. My academic journey also led me to the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain, where I explored the expression profile of neuroinflammation-related genes RORα and LGR6 in different phases of Multiple Sclerosis and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Subsequently, I conducted research at the ICVS institute, Medical School of the University of Minho in Braga, Portugal, focusing on understanding the Glucocorticoid receptor signaling in stress-induced Alzheimer's disease pathology. In terms of technical expertise, I am proficient in various laboratory techniques including cell culture, behavioral testing, and biochemical and molecular methodologies such as Western Blot, Immunofluorescence, neurostructural reconstruction, and spine morphology analysis.I have had the privilege of presenting my research findings at esteemed neuroscience c onferences including the Hellenic Society for Neuroscience and the AD/PD International Conference on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases and related neurological disorders.