IICD Partners with the Alliance Program to Host Students from the École Polytechnique

Lorenza Favrot
February 28, 2022

Created in 2002, the Alliance Program collaborates with Columbia University and three French higher education institutions (École Polytechnique, Sciences Po, and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University). Alliance is funded through an endowment established in 2008 that includes the four partner schools, the French Ministry for Higher Education, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Regional Council of Île de France. The program aims to facilitate the exchange of students, research scholars, and resources and to foster academic collaborations between the four institutions. 

Every year, Alliance facilitates the organization of approximately 40 programs (seminars, panel discussions, conferences, etc.) exploring a broad range of topics. These events take place in Paris and New York with the participation of 60 centers and institutes. The program offers long-term and short-term visiting professorship opportunities within the four partner universities at the faculty level. The organization also established the Alliance Call for Joint Projects, a grant initiative to drive the implementation of collaborative research projects and teaching endeavors between the faculty members of the Alliance network. 

Alliance also provides a wide range of opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate student levels, including dual degrees, doctoral mobility grants, project competitions, scholarships, and more. Such an example of opportunity is the Alliance Research Internship Program, which offers scientific research internships at Columbia University to École Polytechnique students. The Irving Institute for Cancer Dynamics (IICD) recently partnered with the program to host interns in the labs of Drs. Elham Azizi (Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Herbert and Florence Irving Assistant Professor of Cancer Data Research) and Simon Tavaré (Director, Irving Institute for Cancer Dynamics; Professor of Statistics and Biological Sciences). Aida Sarr, Columbia Alliance Senior Finance and Operation Manager, explains: "Alliance works with researchers, faculty members and students to create new collaborative ventures. This newly established partnership between Alliance and the Irving Institute for Cancer Dynamics, which enables students from École Polytechnique to carry out internships at the Institute, is an exciting example of collaboration." 

Elisa Bergomi, a third-year engineering student at the École Polytechnique, is the first intern to join the IICD through this recent partnership. Elisa will join Dr. Simon Tavaré's lab later this month to work on clonal evolution in tumors, applying advanced mathematical techniques to the modeling of cancer evolution. "I'm passionate about applying mathematical techniques to biology and medicine, and interning with Professor Tavaré is a fantastic opportunity to get a taste of that field. I hope this experience will allow me to learn and develop useful tools to fit stochastic models to data, specifically for cancer dynamics. I feel very lucky that École Polytechnique's partnership with Columbia through the Alliance program made me aware of IICD. I'm also excited about living in the big apple for five months!" Elisa Bergomi said. The Institute is looking forward to continuing its collaboration with Columbia Alliance and welcoming more students from the École Polytechnique in future years.  


Elisa Bergomi Biography:

Headshot of Elisa Bergomi

After high school, Elisa Bergomi spent two years in preparatory classes in the MP (Mathematics/Physics) section at the Lycée Henri IV (Paris). In 2019, she passed the national entrance exam to enroll in the École Polytechnique. In her first year, she completed the military training program then spent five months as a Teaching Assistant in SPEIT (Shanghai Jiao Tong - ParisTech Elite Institute of Technology) at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The virus outbreak in China cut this experience short but afforded an opportunity for an unplanned one-month stay in Vietnam, which she enjoyed very much. Her classes at the École Polytechnique have focused on Biology, Applied Mathematics, and Computer Programming. Her summer internship at DNA Script last year confirmed her interest in pursuing a career in the biotech industry or biomedical informatics. 

Elisa is passionate about musical theatre and performing arts, which she practiced professionally as a teenager and more recently this year in her school’s musical. She loves music (she has played the violin for ten years) and languages. She is a French-American-Italian trinational and, although she has visited New York City in the past, this will be her first time living in the US. She is looking forward to joining Dr. Simon Tavaré's team at the IICD to work on clonal evolution in tumors, applying advanced mathematical techniques to the modeling of cancer evolution.