How do endogenous and extrinsic factors contribute to cell behaviour?
How does individual cell heterogeneity affect cell fate?
How do rhythmic oscillatory factors affect cell behaviour?
BioERA: Biological Engineering, Research and Applications
We are interested in combining engineering principles with basic biological science to rationally understand the mechanisms governing cell behaviour. We are focused on understanding how cells and environment interact with each other leading to a self-regulation of the biological processes by combining exogenous and endogenous factors. We use microfluidic cell culture systems coupled with 3D scaffolds and patterning to mimic the in vivo environment and have a close look to cell behaviour.
Currently available in vitro models to study human cell biology, human tissue organization or human diseases often fail to correctly recapitulate the in vivo cell behaviour, resulting in not fully representative systems. Nevertheless accurate in vitro models are indeed necessary to bridge the gap between animal models and patients in the process of drug and therapy development.
The BioERA lab is an interdisciplinary environment composed by people from biology, biotechnology, material science, chemical and biomedical engineering that work together to develop in vitro human models based on human artificial tissues for screening therapies and for the investigation of relevant molecular and biological mechanisms in a high-throughput fashion.
In the recent years the lab worked on the elucidation of the intricate 3D structure-function relationship in human tissues, developing technological solutions for mimicking the in vivo pathophysiology or as means to test biological hypotheses. In particular, microfluidic devices that allow accurate control of culture soluble microenvironment both in space and time have been designed. With the help of such devices, new breakthrough discoveries in the field of cell reprogramming and cell differentiation were achieved. The BioERA lab developed a high-efficient and low-cost microfluidic cell reprogramming protocol that allows to obtain patient-specific, clinical-grade human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC). Pluripotent stem cells can then be differentiated into reliable cell tissue models with high-efficient protocols that the lab developed, combining soluble microenvironment control with engineered biomaterials, scaffolds of patterning.
- PhD: Chemical Engineering at University of Padova (1999)
- Postdoc: Assistant Researcher at the Department of Chemical Engineering at University of Padova (1999-2001)
- Group leader: Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine, Padova, Italy (2007-current)
- Associate Professor at the Department of Industrial Engineering at University of Padova, Italy (2014 – current)
- Professorial Research Associate, Faculty of Pop Health Sciences, Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine, University College London, UK (2015 – current)
- Distinguished Professor-in-Residency at Shanghai Institute of Advanced Immunochemistry (SIAIS), ShanghaiTech University, Shanghai, China (2015 – current)
- 2005 – Fulbright visiting scientist at Harvard – M.I.T. Division of Health Sciences-Technology, Cambrige, USA.