EUTOPIA Talks at NOVA Cairo

EUTOPIA Talks Expand Global Horizons:
NOVA Campus in Cairo Welcomes Top Researchers for Inspiring Scientific Dialogues

From January 2024 and during the year, EUTOPIA’s member universities are invited to join the NOVA Campus in Cairo, Egypt, bringing European state-of-the-art approaches to the lessons taught in situ. After its first year of operation in 2022-2023, the NOVA Campus in Cairo is promoting a series of lectures with top researchers from EUTOPIA universities. The purpose is to provide knowledge and methodologies to young Egyptian students and promote EUTOPIA outside Europe. Additionally, specialised webinars after the lectures will connect online experts from the different communities of the EUTOPIA Universities with local students and academics, reinforcing NOVA Campus’ outreach and the Alliance’s visibility. 

NOVA Cairo is the new global facility of EUTOPIA’s Portuguese partner, NOVA University Lisbon. It is located on the outskirts of Cairo, where the new capital of Egypt is being built. Five different degrees from Nova School of Business and Economics, NOVA School of Technology Executives, and NOVA Information and Management School are offered to the students of this first Portuguese campus in the north of Africa. Studies and exams are in English, and the exact same contents and procedures are followed simultaneously in Cairo and Lisbon. 

Talk Details
  • Cities on the Edge. Sustainability Challenges for Mediterranean Cities. Tales from Barcelona.

Presenter: Antonio Luna García is an associate professor at Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona at the Department of Humanities. He holds a BA degree in Geography from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (1989), an MA in Urban Planning from the University of Arizona (1994) and a PhD in Geography and Regional Development also from the University of Arizona(2000). Luna teaches in the Department of Humanities in the degree of Global Studies. He is one of the members of the Geohumanities research group and a senior researcher in the Research Group CASEs Culture, Archaeology and Socio-Ecological Dynamics ( He has been involved in different research projects in the fields of Geohumanities, Urban Geography and Planning, and Educational Geography founded by the EU( project Eurogame and EUTOPIA-more), the NSF (Center for Global Geography Education) and the Spanish Ministry of Research (project INVBAC; project Geohumanitats) and by other funding agencies such as the Institute of Catalan Studies, or the Regional Government of Catalonia. He has acted as Academic Director of the Study Abroad Program of the UPF (2003-2009), head of the Department of Humanities (2010-2013), academic director of the Global Studies Degree (2014-2020) and Vice-rector for International Relations of the UPF (2021-2023).

Date: February 11th, 2024

Abstract: The cities of the Mediterranean basin are some of the oldest cities in the world and have been able to adapt to multiple crises and transformations throughout their history. In this presentation, Pr. Luna García will explore the most important challenges of the contemporary city through the prism of the current environmental crisis. Contemporary Cities face several challenges: housing, mobility, governance and urban metabolic processes. He will analyse how different Mediterranean cities have faced these challenges throughout their history and how they are facing them today and use the case of Barcelona’s urbanism as a case study in these adaptability models.

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  • Electroporation: from the laboratory technique to a technological platform – the complexity and interdisciplinary approach
Presenter: Damijan Miklavcic is a tenured professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana. He is the world-leading expert in the field of electroporation. In the past 30 years, he contributed to a better understanding of electroporation on membrane, cell, and tissue levels. He has been involved in basic research demonstrating improved efficacy of selected cancer drugs at the preclinical level by electroporation, developing electrodes and devices, and providing numerical modelling towards treatment planning. He was involved in developing irreversible electroporation for cardiac ablation, which holds great promise and is a game changer in cardiac electrophysiology. He is also developing DNA delivery to cells by electroporation for cell and gene-based therapies. According to Google Scholar, his works received 33.273 citations and an h-index of 100.

Date: February 25th, 2024

Abstract: When a cell is exposed to an electric field of sufficient amplitude, its membrane becomes permeable for molecules otherwise deprived of transmembrane transport mechanisms. Suppose electric pulse parameters are selected in a way to increase membrane permeability only transiently. In that case, the membrane reseals, and the cell survives. Initially, electroporation was introduced as a laboratory technique for bacteria transformation. It was later demonstrated that membrane electroporation can be achieved in all types of cells (including mammalian) and that they can be transfected by electroporation in both in vitro and in vivo/in situ. This has recently been shown to be of use also in CAR-T cell-based treatments as well as for DNA-based vaccination. The electroporation has grown from a laboratory technique to a technological platform used in food technology, biotechnology, and biomedicine. In tumour treatment, it is used as electrochemotherapy or an ablation method based on irreversible electroporation. Some chemotherapeutic drugs with intracellular targets but lack efficient transport across the membrane (e.g. bleomycin, cisplatin) can greatly benefit from membrane permeabilisation (electroporation). Bleomycin cytotoxicity has been demonstrated to be increased by 1.000-10.000 times, whereas for cisplatin, this potentiation in vitro was 10-100 times. This potentiation of drug cytotoxicity was effectively translated from in vitro to in vivo preclinical trials and finally introduced into clinical practice as electrochemotherapy. The metastases of different origins have responded locally to electrochemotherapy with an overall complete response rate of 59.4% and an objective response rate of 84.1%. Since 2006, electrochemotherapy has been introduced into more than 220 clinical centres in Europe, with 3000 patients being treated in 2022 and is paving its way into standard clinical use. Electrochemotherapy, however, still awaits widespread adoption around the world. Electroporation can also result in cell death through nonthermal mechanisms. This has been recognised as an efficient ablation method that kills the cells but spares tissue scaffolding, allows immune response involvement, and saves critical structures. Recent clinical trials in treating deep-seated tumours by interventional radiologists using needle electrodes proved the feasibility of irreversible electroporation as a treatment modality with promising prospects and as a valuable new tool in the armamentarium of oncologists. As a nonthermal ablation, irreversible electroporation was also developed and recently clinically tested in intracardiac ablation, which goes by the name of Pulsed Field Ablation (PFA). Cardiac ablation by irreversible electroporation has been recognised as an effective nonthermal ablation modality benefiting from localised ablation of arrhythmogenic tissue while sparing surrounding critical structures such as the oesophagus and phrenic nerve. However, the response of cells and tissue to high-voltage electric pulses is complex and requires further studies and thorough understanding. Electric pulses not only cause cell death but also reversible electroporation, which renders cells (cardiomyocytes and nerves) transiently stunned. Electric pulses also affect tissue perfusion and can cause coronary spasms. Intracardiac delivery of high voltage electric pulses (in the order of 1000 V with currents 10 A) is challenging and may give rise to bubble formation in the left heart. Based on the available evidence, the efficacy of PFA is comparable to established thermal ablation techniques in terms of treatment outcome but of unparalleled safety. The excellent safety profile of PFA is believed to be a result of its unique tissue selectivity, i.e., cardiac tissue being more sensitive to PFA than other tissues. Potentially, PFA represents a safe and effective solution for treating atrial fibrillation and is already being actively investigated for treating other arrhythmias. However, the exact mechanisms of PFA still need to be better understood. In addition, available PFA systems differ in their proprietary pulse waveforms, which are thought to be an important variable of treatment success. To fully realise the potential of PFA, a thorough understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of electroporation and their application in clinical practice is required. Also missing are intraprocedural indexes that will guide cardiac electrophysiologists to achieve durable transmural lesions.

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  • Artificial Intelligence and Archaeology
Presenter: Marcello Pelillo is a Professor of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, where he leads the Computer Vision and Machine Learning Lab which he established in 1995. He has been the Director of the European Centre for Living Technology (ECLT) and has held visiting research positions at Yale University (USA), University College London (UK), McGill University (Canada), University of Vienna (Austria), York University (UK), NICTA (Australia), Wuhan University (China), Huazhong University of Science and Technology (Wuhan, China), South China University of Technology (Guangzhou, China). He is an external affiliate of the Computer Science Department at Drexel University (USA) and of the Italian Institute of Technology. His research interests are in the areas of computer vision, machine learning and pattern recognition where he has published more than 200 technical papers in refereed journals, handbooks, and conference proceedings. He has been General Chair for ICCV 2017, Program Chair for ICPR 2020, and he is regularly an Area Chair for the major conferences of his field. He is the Chief Editor of Frontiers in Computer Science – Computer Vision, and serves (or has served) on the Editorial Boards of several journals, including IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, Pattern Recognition, IET Computer Vision, Visual Intelligence, etc. He is also on the Advisory Board of Springer’s International Journal of Machine Learning and Cybernetics. Prof. Pelillo is Fellow of the IEEE, the IAPR, and the AAIA, and is an IEEE SMC Distinguished Lecturer.

Date: March 10th, 2024

Abstract: In this talk Pr. Pelillo will provide an overview of the RePAIR project which aims to develop a ground-breaking technology to virtually eliminate one of the most labour intensive and frustrating steps in archaeological research, namely the physical reconstruction of large shattered artworks. By developing and integrating novel technologies in the fields of robotics, computer vision and artificial intelligence, we envisage a future where archaeology can deal effectively with reconstruction problems at an unprecedented scale, thereby bringing back to life ancient artworks and masterpieces which would otherwise remain broken into pieces forever. Specifically, Pr. Pelillo and his team are developing an intelligent robotic system which will autonomously process, match and physically assemble large fractured artefacts at a fraction of the time it takes humans to do. The system is being tested over iconic case studies.

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  • Muon Radiography - Cosmic Rays Applied to Archaeology"

Presenter: Michael Tytgat is currently appointed as a professor in physics in the High Energy Physics Group of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). He obtained his PhD in Experimental Particle Physics in 2001, after which has was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship of the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO). He was a visiting scientist at CERN in the period 2006-2007. In 2010 he obtained a tenured staff position at Ghent University, where he stayed until his current appointment at VUB in 2023. He served as guest lecturer at Mons University from 2013 to 2023, and still maintains a part time guest professorship at Ghent University. 
Over the years, he has participated in several projects at various particle accelerator facilities in Europe, including the HERMES experiment at the HERA lepton-proton collider at DESY Hamburg and the currently ongoing CMS experiment at the CERN Large Hadron Collider. His current research focuses on searches for new physics beyond the Standard Model in particle physics and on instrumentation development for applications in high-energy physics and interdisciplinary science.

Date: June 4th, 2024

Abstract: Muon radiography is an innovative imaging technique based on cosmic-ray muons that can be used to visualize the internal structure of a wide range of macroscopically large objects which otherwise cannot be imaged with traditional methods. In muon radiography one uses conventional techniques from experimental particle physics to detect and process muons passing through the object under study. This visualization method has gained a significant amount of interest over the past two decades, with an ever increasing number of applications appearing in interdisciplinary research, industry, homeland security and many other areas. In this seminar, the main principles of muon radiography will be explained, including the commonly used detector technologies. Several key examples of current applications and projects will be discussed, focusing on the use of muon radiography in archaeology.

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