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Stem Cell Biology, differentiation potential, disease modelling and applications for Regenerative Medicine

Virginie Sottile, PhD, P.I.


Lab members

Virginie Sottile, PI, Associate Professor

Lidia Pollara (PhD student)

Paola Fulghieri (PhD student)

Research Focus

Our research focuses on the biology of stem cell populations and on the mechanisms regulating their differentiation in health and disease, in order to develop new approaches for regenerative medicine. Stem cells are key to the formation, maintenance and the repair of organs. The control of stem cell self-renewal and multipotency is a pre-requisite for their fruitful therapeutic use. We study stem cells present in different tissues to investigate their regulation and their differentiation potential for biomedical applications, which include new drug screening, disease modelling, tissue engineering approaches and regenerative medicine.

Stem cells in use include human and mouse cell cultures, from healthy and disease models including cancer models. Using both 2D and 3D cell culture, we are involved in research projects including the regulation of neural stem cells present in different brain locations, the role of adipogenic stem cells in obesity and metabolic health, and the improvement of tissue repair processes through the use of novel biomaterials to support stem cell-based regeneration. We also investigate the relationship between stem cells, tissue repair and neoplasia, and the differences between cancer stem cells and their normal counterparts.

Research Lines:

  • Stem cell characterisation: Analysis of progenitor cells present in tissues, study of the distribution, cell properties, markers, differentiation capacity and gene expression pattern of stem cells to determine their biological features and therapeutic potential. Development of new non-invasive techniques to monitor stem cell phenotype in vitro. Comparison of stem cells from healthy and disease models including cancer, and collaboration with the Stivala group to study the regulation of cancer stem cells.
  • Stem cell models for disease modelling: Culture, characterisation and differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells from patients carrying specific genetic diseases, in order to identify the cellular defects underpinning disease phenotypes. Collaboration with the Valente group to model neurodevelopmental diseases with patients’ stem cells.
  • Stem cells for tissue repair: Studying differentiation in 2D cultures and 3D organoid models, in combination with biomimetic biomaterials to drive stem cell differentiation towards specific lineages needed to promote tissue repair and regeneration.

A full and up-to-date list of our publications can be found here.


Pollara L, Sottile V*, Valente EM*. Patient-derived cellular models of primary ciliopathies. J Med Genet. 2022; 59(6):517-527. doi: 10.1136/jmedgenet-2021-108315. PMID: 35184035

Salih S, Nizamudeen ZA, De Melo N, Chakrabarti L, Sottile V*. Sox-positive cell population in the adult cerebellum increases upon tissue degeneration. Exp Neurol. 2022; 348:113950. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2021.113950. PMID: 34902356

Hamid OA*, Eltaher HM, Sottile V*, Yang J. 3D bioprinting of a stem cell-laden, multi-material tubular composite: An approach for spinal cord repair. Mater Sci Eng C Mater Biol Appl. 2021; 120:111707. doi: 10.1016/j.msec.2020.111707. PMID: 33545866

Fulghieri P, Stivala LA, Sottile V*. Modulating cell differentiation in cancer models. Biochem Soc Trans. 2021; 49(4):1803-1816. doi: 10.1042/BST20210230. PMID: 34436513

Velickovic K, Lugo Leija HA, Surrati A, Kim DH, Sacks H, Symonds ME, Sottile V*. Targeting Glutamine Synthesis Inhibits Stem Cell Adipogenesis in Vitro. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2020; 54(5):917-927. doi: 10.33594/000000278. PMID: 32946687