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Stefano Pluchino, MD, PhD

Stefano Pluchino is Professor of Regenerative Neuroimmunology and Honorary Consultant in Neurology, within the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge, UK. He obtained his MD and PhD in Experimental Neuroscience at the University of Siena (Italy) and progressed towards two consecutive post docs and then tenured Group leader position at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan (Italy), before moving to Cambridge in 2010. 

The Pluchino team studies whether the accumulation of neurological disability observed in patients with chronic inflammatory neurological conditions can be slowed down using next generation molecular therapies. The overarching aim is to understand the basic mechanisms that allow exogenously delivered stem cells, gene therapy vectors and/or exosomes to create an environment that preserves damaged axons or prevents neurons from dying. Such mechanisms may be harnessed and used to modulate disease states to repair and/or regenerate critical components of the nervous system. By understanding the mechanisms of intercellular (stem cell) signalling, diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) may be treated more effectively, and significant neuroprotection may be achieved with new tailored molecular therapeutics.

Stefano Pluchino is best known for having provided compelling evidence in support of the feasibility and efficacy of advanced stem cell therapies in rodent and non-human primate models of inflammatory neurological diseases, including multiple sclerosis. His work has contributed to reshape the classical view that advanced cell therapeutics (ACTs), including cellular grafts, may exert their therapeutic effects not only through structural cell replacement, but also through modulation of mitochondrial function and neuroinflammatory pathways, and has inspired the first-in-kind clinical trials of allogeneic somatic neural stem cells in patients with progressive MS.

His most recent research has also elucidated the role of mitochondrial complex I activity in microglia, showcasing its pivotal role in sustaining neuroinflammation. This finding, as reported in a study published in Nature (2024), unveils a novel avenue for understanding the mechanisms underlying progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). The implications of this discovery are profound, as it suggests a new target for disease-modifying therapies. By targeting mitochondrial complex I activity in microglia, researchers may be able to intervene in the neuroinflammatory processes that contribute to disease progression in MS. This not only enhances our understanding of the pathophysiology of progressive MS but also opens avenues for the development of innovative treatments that could potentially halt or slow down disease progression.

His combined efforts towards the identification of new druggable targets, as well as the development of advanced regenerative therapies, underscore the importance of continued research into the intricate mechanisms underlying neurological diseases and the development of targeted therapies that can address these mechanisms.

Stefano Pluchino is recipient of numerous national and international awards, among which the Italian Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (FISM) Rita Levi-Montalcini prize for outstanding research in MS (2007) and the International Royan Award for outstanding research in Stem Cell Biology and Technology (2010). He is a 2009 Italian Ministry of Health Young Investigator Awardee and 2010 European Research Council (ERC) Starting Independent Researcher. 

His laboratory research on Regenerative Neuroimmunology is documented in >250 publications in international journals, including many recent articles in highly prestigious journals, such as Nature, Cell, Cell Stem Cell, Nat Cell Biol, Nat Chem Biol, PNAS, PLoS Biol, PLoS Med, Brain, Ann Neurol, and J Neurosci, as well as invited review articles in Nat Rev Neurosci, Trends Mol Med, Trends Immunol and Physiol Reviews, Trends in Mol Med and Trends Immunol. His publications have to date received >18.000 citations (ISI-WOK), having a Hirsch Factor of 61.

email: spp24@cam.ac.uk

Tel.: +44 1223 331163 (office)

skype me at stefanopluchino

Instagram @pluchino_lab

Twitter/X @Pluchinolab

Senior staff/Post doctoral fellows

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Luca Peruzzotti-Jametti, MD, PhD

Luca is a Clinical Research Associate and Honorary Clinical Fellow at the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge (UK) and Neurology consultant. 
His work has been focusing on the application of molecular and cellular therapies to acute and chronic disorders of the Central Nervous System (including ischemic stroke and multiple sclerosis).
After receiving his MD (2007) from the University Vita-Salute San Raffaele of Milan (Italy), Luca completed a residency program in Neurology at the same University in 2013. 
He then successfully obtained a Wellcome Trust research training fellowship and completed a PhD in Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge (2018). 
During the past years, he has worked as visiting scientist in major European universities, such as the University Hospital in Zürich (Switzerland), the University of Aarhus (Denmark), the Laboratory of Stem Cells and Restorative Neurology of Lund (Sweden) and the University of Innsbruck (Austria).
Currently, Luca is studying how progression works in multiple sclerosis by focusing on the link between immune cell metabolism and chronic neuroinflammation (thanks to a Fondazione Italiana Sclerosi Multipla-FISM Senior Research Fellowship).

email: lp429@cam.ac.uk

Tel.: +44 1223 331168 (office)

fax: +44 1223 331174

skype me at lucaperuzzotti

Twitter/X @Dr_LPJ

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Alexandra Nicaise, PhD
Alexandra received her bachelors degree in Neuroscience from Trinity College, Hartford, CT, United States (2013). She then completed her PhD at the University of Connecticut Health Center in 2019 in the lab of Dr. Stephen Crocker. Her PhD thesis involved the characterization of neural progenitor cells developed from induced pluripotent stem cells from patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

Alexandra joined the Pluchino Lab in March 2019 as a postdoctoral research associate to work on the development of induced neural stem cell therapeutics for progressive multiple sclerosis (PMS). In addition she is using induced neural stem cells from patients with PMS to model cellular senescence in vitro towards understanding why regeneration failure occurs in this disease. 

Alex is recipient of an individual post-doctoral fellowship from the European Committee for Research and Treatment in MS (ECRIMS) (2021-2023) to study neural stem cell ageing in progressive MS. 

email: an574@cam.ac.uk

Tel.: +44 1223 331168 (office)

fax: +44 1223 331174

skype me at alexandramnicaise

Twitter/X @Telencephale

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Cory Willis, PhD

Cory received his bachelors degree in neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, United States (2012). He then completed his PhD at the University of Connecticut in 2019 in the lab of Stephen Crocker.  His PhD thesis was two-fold, first to characterize astrocyte-derived EVs as a means to identify and isolate astrocyte EVs from complex biological fluids and secondly to discern plasma EVs as immune regulators in an animal model of multiple sclerosis.

Cory joined the Pluchino Lab in May 2019 as a postdoctoral research associate to work on the characterization of the metabolic profile of induced microglia from progressive multiple sclerosis patients. In addition, he is contributing to an on-going project investigating how sustained mitochondrial activity in mononuclear phagocytes leads to a chronically active inflammatory phenotype in a pre-clinical animal model of progressive multiple sclerosis.

Cory is recipient of an individual post-doctoral fellowship from the National MS Society (NMSS, USA) (2021-2024) to study the role of succinate-Gpr91 signalling in astroglia. 

email: cw739@cam.ac.uk

Tel.: +44 1223 331168 (office)

fax: +44 1223 331174

skype me at cwillis53_1

Twitter/X @exosomeguy

Graduate Students

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Evridiki Asimakidou, BSc, MSc

Evridiki studied medicine at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and graduated as the valedictorian in 2020. Afterwards, she moved to Sweden to continue with a master degree in Medical Research at Uppsala University. She spent the second year of her master studies in the USA and conducted her master thesis at Northwestern University in Chicago investigating the role of the immunosuppressive enzyme IDO1 and cellular senescence in the efficacy of PD-1 inhibitors in aged mice with glioblastoma. 

Evridiki joined the Pluchino Lab in January 2024 as a PhD student with the support of a Cambridge Trust and Newnham College Scholarship to investigate the role of microglial metabolism in cognitive decline within the context of chronic neuroinflammation. 

email: ea622@cam.ac.uk 

Tel.: +44 1223 331168 (office)

fax: +44 1223 331174

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Monica Emili Garcia-Segura, BSc, MSc

Monica graduated in 2019 with High Distinction from the University of Toronto (Canada) with a Neuroscience Specialist degree. She then completed her MRes in Experimental Neuroscience with Distinction (ICL) inProfessor Jules Griffin´s lab, where she conducted a multi-omics study to map the metabolic consequences of Alzheimers Disease. Afterwards, she investigated the regional and cell-type distribution of somatic SNCA mutations in MSA post-mortem brain tissue with Professor Christos Proukakis at UCL. 

Monica joined the lab in October 2021 as a PhD student with the support of the Medical Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership (MRC-DTP) and the School of Clinical Medicine Cambridge Trust Scholarship to investigate the role of extracellular metabolites in Progressive Multiple Sclerosis biological fluids and tissues. 

 

email: me485@cam.ac.uk 

Tel: +44 1223 331168 (office)

Fax: +44 1223 331174 

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Rosana-Bristena Ionescu, MD

Bristena received her Doctor of Medicine degree from “Carol Davila” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest (Romania) in 2020. Her senior project was in Dr. Ana-Maria Zagrean's lab in the Department of Physiology and Neuroscience, where she investigated the therapeutic potential of chloride transport modulation using in vitro models of stroke and excitotoxicity.

Bristena joined the Pluchino Lab in October 2020 as a PhD student with the support of the Medical Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership (MRC-DTP) and the Cambridge Trust to investigate the metabolic control of brain stem cell behaviour in ageing.

 

email: rbi24@cam.ac.uk 

Tel.: +44 1223 331168 (office)

fax: +44 1223 331174

skype me at bristena.ionescu

Twitter/X @BristenaIonescu

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Ivan Lombardi, BSc, MSc

Ivan obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Italy (2017). Then, he studied Biomedical Research at the University of Milan “La Statale”, Italy, where he also joined Prof. Elena Cattaneo’s lab for his Master’s thesis by investigating hippocampal dysfunctions in Huntington’s disease (2020). Afterwards, he moved to Prof. Angelo Vescovi’s group at the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy - before as Research Fellow and then as PhD student in Molecular Medicine (2021) - to study human neural stem cells (hNSCs) and their therapeutic potential/properties for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, with particular emphasis on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

 

Ivan joined the Pluchino Lab in January 2024 as Visiting PhD student in order to investigate the remyelination potential of induced-Neural Stem Cells (iNSCs) transplant in a mouse model of focal spinal cord demyelination and the role of succinate receptor 1 (SUCNR1) in neuro-immune interactions.

 

 

email: il359@cam.ac.uk

Tel.: +44 1223 331168 (office)

fax: +44 1223 331174

skype me at Lo.ivan95

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/lo-ivan

Twitter/X @LoIvan_

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Radhika Kesharwani, BSc, MSc

Radhika Kesharwani, with a Bachelor's in Pharmacy (2016) from Dr. Hari Singh Gaur University, pursued her Master's in Science at NIPER Ahmedabad, India(2019). Her research concentrated on exploring the therapeutic potential of stem cell therapy in mitigating mitophagy and neuronal death by inhibiting caspase-1, using a middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo)-induced rat model of cerebral ischemia. Afterwards she moved to University of Cagliari, Italy in 2022 to pursue her Ph.D. in Neuroscience, where her research delves into metabolomic analysis of human pineal glands, aiming to identify differences in metabolomic profiles associated with day and night deaths, as well as investigating post-mortem intervals. As a visiting student, she recently joined Pluchino lab in 2023 , she is working on spatial proteomics and metabolomics of progressive multiple sclerosis tissues.

 

email: rk764@cam.ac.uk

Tel.: +44 1223 331168 (office)

fax: +44 1223 331174

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Grzegorz Krzak, BSc, MSc

Greg received his Bachelor’s degree in neurobiology from Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland (2016). In 2016 he joined Prof. Miller’s lab to work on his MSc thesis in the department of Clinical Neuroscience at King’s College London. After graduation he joined Prof. Smith’s Lab at the Department of Neuroinflammation (UCL), Queen Square to study the role of hypoxia in multiple sclerosis.

Greg joined the PluchinoLab in October 2019 to work on his PhD thesis investigating the role of succinate receptor/GPR91 in immune cells during neuroinflammation.

 

email: gk433@cam.ac.uk 

Tel.: +44 1223 331168 (office)

fax: +44 1223 331174

skype me at krzak9327

Twitter/X @grzkrzak

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Hebe Manos, BSc

Hebe completed her Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences at University College London (2021). She joined the Pluchino Lab in January 2023 as an MPhil student, investigating the metabolomic profile of microglial cells during early postnatal development and in adult pathological states. Her project aims to provide insight into the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric diseases such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia.

 

Email: hmn30@cam.ac.uk
Tel: +44 7747452096 (office)
Fax: +44 1223 331174

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Magdy Mekdad, BSc

Magdy graduated in June 2023 from Imperial College London, receiving his degree in Biochemistry with a Year in Industry/Research. He did his undergraduate project in Prof. Brickley’s lab, investigating the morphology and physiology of interneurons from the higher-order mammalian thalamus.

 

Magdy joined the Pluchino lab in November 2023 as an MPhil student in Biomolecular Sciences. He is very excited to contribute to the development of induced neural stem cell models to better understand the mechanisms behind multiple sclerosis.

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Email: mm2789@cam.ac.uk
Tel: +44 7747452096 (office)
Fax: +44 1223 331174

Twitter/X @MagdyMekdad

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Pranathi Prasad, BSc

Pranathi received her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany (2021). She did her thesis project on Conformational Dynamics of MHC Class I Molecules with Professor Sebastian Springer at Jacobs University and her senior year project on Neuron-Glia Interactions in Peripheral Neuroinflammation at Charité’s Department of Microbiology, Infectious Diseases and Immunology (Berlin) with Dr. Christoph Klose. 

 

Pranathi joined the Pluchino lab in October 2021 as a PhD student with the support of the Medical Research Council Doctoral Training Program (MRC-DTP) and the School of Clinical Medicine Cambridge International Scholarship. She will be investigating DNA damage-induced mechanisms of disease progression in age-related neurodegeneration with joint supervision from Dr Gabriel Balmus at the UK Dementia Research Institute.

 

Email: pp531@cam.ac.uk
Tel: +44 7747452096 (office)
Fax: +44 1223 331174

Skype me at pranathitp

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Linda Sbarro, BSc

Linda received her bachelor’s degree in psychology with Neuroscience from the University of Reading (UK) in 2022. In 2023 she completed a master’s degree in Translational Neuropathology at the University of Sheffield (UK), where she developed a strong interest in astrocyte biology. Her master’s thesis focused on astrocyte phenotypes in relation to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which was carried out in the lab of Dr. Laura Ferrariuolo at the Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience. 

In October 2023 she joined the Pluchino Lab as an MPhil student to further pursue her interest in researching astrocytes in neuroinflammation. Her MPhil thesis will focus on investigating the crosstalk between astrocytes and microglia in neuroinflammation as it relates to multiple sclerosis (MS). Her project aims to provide insights into the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the transition from relapsing-remitting MS to progressive multiple sclerosis (PMS).

 

Email: ls2067@cam.ac.uk
Tel: +44 7747452096 (office)
Fax: +44 1223 331174

Instagram @/lindasbarro

Twitter/X @/LindaSbarro 

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Kassandra (Kay) Zhou, BSc

Kassandra completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience and Physiology in 2022 at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. During her undergraduate studies, she received supervised training on human brain dissection and neuroanatomy with Dr Wayne Vogl. In her senior year, Kassandra conducted a project to investigate Sertoli cell junction turnover, also with Dr Wayne Vogl in the Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences.  

 

Kassandra joined the Pluchino Lab in October 2022 as an MPhil student co-supervised with Irina Mohorianou (Wellcome-MRC Stem Cell Institute) with the goal of integrating expression data (proteins, metabolites, genes) with cellular behaviours. Her project will focus on the biology of disease pacemaker neural stem cells using single cell data analysis and machine learning. 

 

Email: yz830@cam.ac.uk

Tel: +44 0789-588-5696

Skype me at live:kassandra.zhou

Twitter/X @KassandraYz830

Undergraduate Students

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Madalena Abade, BSc

Madalena completed her Bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cell Biology at NOVA University Lisbon, Portugal (2022) and is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Molecular and Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. In the first year, she joined Professor Wia Baron's lab, where she investigated the role of white matter synapses in remyelination in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) lesions using human post-mortem brain tissue.  

Madalena joined the Pluchino lab in January 2024 as a visiting master's student to complete her thesis under the supervision of Alexandra Nicaise. Her project aims to better understand the role of senescent neural stem cells (NSCs) in progressive MS. For this, she will investigate cell-to-cell interactions between induced NSCs from progressive MS patients and neurons and astrocytes within brain organoids. 

 

Email: ma2139@cam.ac.uk 

Tel.: +44 7747452096 (office) 

Fax: +44 1223 331174 

Laboratory Technicians

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Alyson Speed, BSc

Alyson joined the University in 1992 in the Department of Pathology as a trainee technician.  Moving around various departments gave exposure to various research programs gaining new skills with each group.  

After a period away, in 2014 re-joined the University in the MRC-CU working with four Research groups (Ashok Ventikarman, Christian Frezza, Sakari Vanharata and Carla Martin). Working on lung, pancreatic, and metastases cancer projects.

 

Alyson Joined the Pluchino Lab in November 2022 as a Research Laboratory Technician.

email: ajs99@cam.ac.uk

Tel.: +44 1223 331168 (office)

fax: +44 1223 331174

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Olena Hruba, MSc

Olena received her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Ukraine (2020). She then completed a Master's degree in Genetics and Biotechnology from the same University (2022).

Olena joined the PluchinoLab in November 2022 as a Research Laboratory Technician.

email: oh311@cam.ac.uk

Tel.: +44 7547905973 (office)

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