Connecting and representing Physician Scientists across Europe

who are we ?

Antonia Felzen


I´m Antonia Felzen, and I am an MD/PhD candidate at the Department of Pediatrics at the University Medical Center in Groningen, The Netherlands. For my PhD, I am working on rare genetic liver diseases in children, specifically on unraveling their natural history and potential (personalized) treatment options. MD/PhD students are more the exception than the rule in all medical faculties across Europe (and the world) and yet it is extremely important to have physician-scientists who can understand and advance the current standard of knowledge and care. My mission as EMPA’s president is to bring together (aspiring) MD/PhD students from all over Europe, to give them a chance to interact and learn from their peers, to spread awareness on the different types of MD/PhD programs and career paths in Europe and to foster international collaborations among the different countries to promote and support MD/PhD programs (even or especially if they have yet to be established). A fun fact about me is that in highschool I was convinced I would never do research because it's too far away from patient care but I have found out that it is quite the opposite!

Dimitrios Daskalou

Vice-president & Secretary

Hi, my name is Dimitrios, and I am an MD/PhD student at the inner ear and olfaction lab at Geneva University in Switzerland. My primary focus of research is the protection of inner ear function. More precisely, I study the potential of NADPH oxidase 3 inhibition to prevent radiosurgery-induced hearing loss in vestibular schwannoma. I believe that MD-PhD students around Europe are a small but potentially powerful community of like-minded individuals who need to communicate better, collaborate better, and have a common voice. I joined EMPA's executive board to foster the association, organize events to bring closer MD-PhD students from all over Europe, and promote the physician-scientist career path.

Freek van den Berg

Treasurer & National Representative Coordinator

Hi! I´m Freek van den Berg, and I am an MD/PhD candidate at the Department of Experimental Cardiology of the University Medical Center in Groningen, The Netherlands. My PhD focusses on cardio-oncology, and I try to contribute to unraveling the complex interplay between heart failure and cancer. I joined EMPA as I take great pleasure in working with my fellow MD/PhD candidates to create a supranational community of MD/PhD candidates and setting-up a network to help one another with all sorts of problems we MD/PhD candidates encounter, be it social or scientific.

Alina Aurelia Lazar

International Contacts Manager

My name is Alina Aurelia Lazar, and I am a resident doctor, currently training in Pathology at the department of Pathology of Bucharest Emergency University Hospital, Romania. I have a special interest in cancer biology, tumorigenesis, molecular biology, immunology, and hematopathology and I pursue a PhD in these fields, as I believe that combining research with medical practice provides a more comprehensive view of medicine and biology, ultimately leading to better patient care. I have been involved with EMPA since my time as a medical student and currently I am a board associate, working to expand and strengthen the network.

Imad Messaadi

Media & Communication Manager

Hello, I'm Imad Messaadi, a final-year medical student at Rouen University in France. With a strong passion for neurology and a keen interest in immunology and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, I'm dedicated to specializing in this captivating field. I'm driven by the desire to understand the intricate relationship between the immune system and the central nervous system, particularly in the context of autoimmune diseases. Through my research, I aim to contribute to advancements in diagnosis, treatment, and patient care. In addition to my studies, I serve as a board associate managing social media for EMPA (European MD/PhD Association). Together with my colleagues, we aim to connect and support MD/PhD candidates across Europe, promoting collaboration and raising awareness about the diverse career paths available to physician-scientists. If you have any questions or would like to connect, please feel free to reach out to me.

Dario Bottignole

Sponsoring & Fundraising Manager

Hello there! I'm Dario Bottignole, a first-year Neurology resident at the University Hospital of Parma (Italy). Besides clinical duties, I'm pursuing my research interests at the Sleep Medicine Center "Mario Giovanni Terzano", where we explore the pathophysiological mechanisms that underlie sleep disorders, and the usefulness of sleep architecture as a predictor for other neurological conditions (particularly for neuro-inflammation and related diseases). Since I was a young student I have been curious about the future healthcare professionals' formative process and possible strategies to implement it. After years of local work, I discovered the European MD/PhD Association (EMPA), an entity that groups young bright researchers with a common purpose: shaping a better future through innovation. I see in this association a driving force that preserves the physician-scientist figure, a crucial bridge between patients' needs and laboratory creativity. As part of the EMPA board, I am honored to have the opportunity to promote this figure across the whole continent. I'm responsible for the sponsorship and fundraising program, so if you would like to support us or you're just interested in our activities, let's talk!