University of Cambridge

News about Pluchino’s lab at the University of Cambridge

Stefano Pluchino <> Stefano Pluchino received his MD and PhD degrees at the University of Siena, Italy, and additional training at Cambridge University, UK. Dr. Pluchino is University Lecturer in Brain Repair and Honorary Consultant in Neurology at the University of Cambridge, within the Centre for Brain Repair (2010). Stefano Pluchino is an European Research Council (ERC) Starting Independent Researcher and member of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences. Dr Pluchino is also a non-tenured Professor of Regenerative Neuroscience at the University Vita-Salute San Raffaele in Milano (Italy; since 2005) and he also serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor in Neurology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington (USA; since 2008). The major contribution of Stefano Pluchino’s studies has been the demonstration of the [constitutive vs inducible] immune modulatory functions of somatic neural stem/precursor cells (NPCs). This seminal observation has lead to a number of pre-clinical studies where NPCs injected trough biological routes, such as the blood stream and the cerebrospinal fluid, protect the nervous system from accumulation of chronic tissue damage (therapeutic plasticity of stem cells). His major recent focus has been the exploitation of the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating the therapeutic plasticity of neural progenitor cells in inflammatory CNS diseases such as multiple sclerosis, ischemic stroke, and spinal cord injury. Having established this, current research projects are exploring the different modalities by which NPCs engage programs of horizontal cell-to-cell communication with cells in the microenvironment.

Elena Giusto <> Elena graduated with a MSc, first Class Honors in Medical Biotechnologies from the University of Trieste, Italy in 2007. Then she joined the Pluchino’s lab as PhD student in Experimental Neurology at INSPE-San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy in 2008. From June 2008 to September 2010 she has worked in the laboratory of Alexey Terskikh at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, USA and trained on human pluripotent stem cells. Elena has completed her PhD in Experimental Neurology at the University Vita-Salute San Raffaele (Milan, Italy) in April 2011. Elena’s present interests focus on the study of the therapeutic potential of pluripotent stem cell-derived NPCs in complex neurological syndromes, such as MS and SCIs. Her most recent efforts are devoted towards the definition of the safety and efficacy profiles of next generation implantable organic nano-electronics for spinal cord regeneration, both in vitro and in vivo in mice with SCI. Elena’s post doctoral fellowship is supported by the EU FP7th project Implantable Organic Nano-Electronics (iONE) coordinated by the Italian Research Council (CNR; PI: Fabio Biscarini).


Matteo Donegà <> Matteo received his BSc in Industrial Biotechnology at the University of study Milano-Bicocca, Italy with honors. From November 2008 to February 2010 he has worked as undergraduate student in the Laboratory of Prof. A.L. Vescovi at the Dep. of Biology and Biotechnology, University of Milano-Bicocca on a project aiming at the the application of self-assembling hydrogels for the regeneration of the injured rat spinal cord. Matteo has joined the Pluchino lab in September 2010 as junior lab technician working at the CNS Repair Unit, INSPE, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy. He will move to the main Pluchino’s lab at the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair, University of Cambridge, from February 2011. Matteo has been offered a PhD studentship in Clinical Neurosciences under the support of the EU FP7th project Implantable Organic Nano-Electronics (iONE) coordinated by the Italian Research Council (CNR; PI: Fabio Biscarini).


 Chiara Cossetti <> Chiara graduated with a MSc, first Class Honors in Medical Biotechnologies at the University of Trieste, Italy in 2004. She spent a total of two years working in a small biotech company (Bioxell), and then started a PhD program in Basic and Applied Biology (GABBA) at the University of Oporto, Portugal in 2007. She has moved to the Pluchino’s lab in 2008. Her main research interest is the study of mechanisms of cell-to-cell in the neural stem cell field. She has started studying how NPCs regulate de function(s) of cells of the immune system, including T cells and dendritic cells, and she’s now very much focusing at the analysis of secreted membrane vesicles as carriers of highly sophisticated biological informations (including transfer of microRNAs). In February 2012, Chiara was awarded the title of PhD in Basic and Applied Biology with honors from the University of Porto (Portugal). Chiara is a AISM/FISM Posto-doctoral fellow.


 Diana Breitmaier <> Diana received her training qualification certification at the University Stuttgart-Hohenheim (Germany) in 2002. She has worked from August 2002 to July 2008 as a Laboratory Technician in the GMP-Laboratory of BioTissue Technologies GmbH Freiburg (Germany; at the culture of autologous human cells for medical products, then from February 2009 to February 2011 as a Laboratory Technician in the Laboratories of Greenovation Biotech GmbH Freiburg (Germany; at the culture of plant cells for antibody production and from March 2011 to August 2011 as a medical-technical Assistant in the Histology Laboratory of the Pathology-Clinic