Our research interests focus on the study of the transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms dysregulated in metabolic disorders such as Insulin Resistance (IR) and Type II Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM). Our team relies on the use of mRNA-mediated non-integrative reprogramming technique to derive induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from fibroblasts obtained from large cohorts of patients and healthy donors. iPSCs can be differentiated into virtually all cell types of the human body and therefore constitute an unprecedented cellular platform to model disease onset and progression. Additionally, we use human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to understand the epigenetic mechanisms driving early tissue differentiation and terminal specification, with a particular focus on endoderm-derived lineages.
We combine reprogramming, next generation sequencing (NGS), genome editing as well as 2D/3D cellular biology techniques to identify the transcriptional and epigenetic signatures prognostic of metabolic diseases and to develop in vitro screening assays aimed to isolate chemical compounds able to revert these pathological signatures.
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LAB TEAM MEMBERS
Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor of Bioscience
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Main research project: I obtained my phD in Molecular Medicine at San Raffaele Institute in Milan, Italy. The topic of my work is the investigation of the epigenetic processes required for the in vitro differentiation of human embryonic and patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells into glucose sensitive cell types, such as hepatocytes and pancreatic b-cells. The final objective of my research is the identification of targetable pathways involved in the development of metabolic disorders.
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Main research project: My research project focuses on the study of the transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms deregulated in metabolic disorders such as Type II Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM). I rely on the use of a large cohort of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (IPSCs) obtained from patients carrying symmetrical copy number variation associated with glucose abnormalities. We use this cellular model to derive glucose sensitive cell types in-vitro and study transcriptional signatures associated to T2DM etiopathogenesis.
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Main research project: Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) and Insulin Resistance (IR) are two pandemic metabolic diseases that are reportedly increasing worldwide. Therefore, there is an urgent demand to develop new regenerative-medicine approaches based on the use of in-vitro self-derived spare tissues. We apply the reprogramming technology to selected cohort of patients’ fibroblasts with high reported risk of developing IR and T2DM and healthy controls. We then use this cellular platform to obtain in-vitro glucose sensitive cell types to potentially unravel basic transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms underlying the onset and progression of T2DM.
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Main research project: Studying the molecular mechanisms and the epigenetic landscape driving early development and axis formation) is my major interest. Specifically I focus on the study of the molecular events that guide the derivation of definitive endoderm during differentiation of human embryonic stem cells. Definitive endoderm is of particular clinical relevance as it is the germ layer that gives rise to pancreas and liver, two major organs that are studied intensively for regenerative medicine purposes.
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