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Rebuilding tissues: the proper house for each cell

Dr. Francesca Gervaso, Institute of Nanotechnology of National Research Council (CNR Nanotec)

June 8, 2022 at 14.00 CET, on YouTube and Zoom

When a biological tissue injures because of trauma or pathological events, our body tries to self-repair the defect, but not always this process is successful. To fully understand the mechanisms behind the tissue regeneration events and testing new therapeutics to promote the regeneration, it is of paramount importance to rebuild tissues in vitro,  by obtaining tissue analogues. Though cells are undoubtedly an essential component of a tissue, a 3D structure, mimicking the same architecture where the cells live in our body (called extracellular matrix), is crucial to recreate the spatial organization of the original tissue, supporting cell migration, proliferation and differentiation is. 3D structures devoted to host cells, also called scaffolds, differ in material type, spatial architecture, porosity, degradation characteristics, mechanical and surface properties to meet the requirements of the tissue we want to rebuild and make the cells feel at home. This is the challenge of a tissue engineer.

Dr. Francesca Gervaso is an engineer (PhD in Bioengineering and Master Degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Milan), working as Researcher at the Institute of Nanotechnology of National Research Council (CNR Nanotec), since 2018. From 2013 to 2018, Dr. Gervaso was a Staff Researcher in Bioengineering at the Department of Engineering for Innovation at the University of Salento, Italy. She is author of about 60 papers on international peer-reviewed scientific journals, 20 conference proceedings, 3 book chapters and 3 patent applications (H-Index 21, total citations > 2000). She has been coordinator of several national projects and serves as Editor for international journals in biomaterial sciences. Dr. Gervaso supervised 35 master/bachelor students and 6 PhD students. She was speaker at more than 20 international conferences. She is also promoter of two entrepreneurial projects focused on innovative customized solutions for the treatment of osteochondral defects and innovative processes for the production of medical-grade chitosan. Her main interest focuses on the design and development of biomaterials for tissue engineering and biomechanics. At the moment, she works within a multidisciplinary team on the development of 3D in vitro models, including organ-on-chip solutions, as potential drug testing tools, supervising the research activity on cell-laden hydrogel development.