Institute of Immunity and Transplantation


Paola Bonfanti

Senior Research Associate

Research area

Epithelial stem cell biology.

Research programme

Research summary

Epithelia line the outer and inner surfaces of our body and play crucial role in tissue homeostasis and repair. Epithelia have a complex biology, understood only in part, and despite some common features, they undergo progressive diversification to fulfil their specific role and function. In the case of thymus, epithelial cells contribute to the microenvironment that instructs lymphoid precursors to mature towards functional immune cells to establish proper immunity against pathogens and also to induce self-tolerance that prevents autoimmunity.

Our group aims to understand the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate epithelia self-renewal and differentiation, with the final goal to produce long lasting medicinal product for tissue engineering. We also aim to dissect the components of thymus microenvironment and study their role in regulating tolerance and immune cell maturation.

We use a number of experimental approaches ranging from clonal cell cultures, to molecular and functional characterisation and to in vitro organ reconstruction. 


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