Dr Massimo Vassalli
- Reader (Biomedical Engineering)
I graduated in Physics at the University of Florence (Italy) in 1999, including an instructive 1 year Erasmus experience at the University of Mainz (Germany). After the degree, I initially moved to the industry, working in the area of informatics and supporting the birth of a small company in the field. I quickly realized I would better enjoy the academic pathway and I decided to enroll in a cross-disciplinary PhD program between physics, engineering and biology at the University of Florence, and working at the Biophotonics Lab of the National Institute of Applied Optics. I then spent few years as research fellow inside different Italian national research institutes, learning and exploiting advanced optical microscopy and force spectroscopy techniques for the study of biological systems (molecules and cells). During 2009 I moved to the Institute of Biophysics ot the National Research Council in Genova, where I had the opportunity to cultivate my interest on "mechanics in biology". In the meantime, I never gave up the industrial experience and I supported technology transfer and innovation, leading to an increased network of interactions with national and international companies.
Since October 2019 I joined the School of Engineering of the University of Glasgow, to participate to the scientific activities of the Centre for the Cellular Microenvironment led by Prof Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez and Prof Matthew Dalby.
My general research interest is in understanding the mechanisms by which physical forces are transduced into biologically relevant signals (mechanotransduction), and their role in the homoeostasis of key physiological processes whose alteration eventually leads to pathology or degeneration, such as in cancer or ageing (mechanobiology). Moreover, exploiting my technical background in physics and engineering, I'm also committed in developing enabling microscopy and spectroscopy tools to measure mechanical properties, image and manipulate biological objects at the level of cells and molecules (nanoengineering).
Potential PhD projects
PhD projects and opportunities are available. Please have a look at the additional information section below if you are interested in more details.
Hammarström, B., Vassalli, M. and Glynne-Jones, P. (2019) Acoustic focussing for sedimentation-free high-throughput imaging of microalgae. Journal of Applied Phycology, (doi:10.1007/s10811-019-01907-5) (Early Online Publication)
Cacace, T., Bianco, V., Paturzo, M., Memmolo, P., Vassalli, M. , Fraldi, M., Mensitieri, G. and Ferraro, P. (2018) Retrieving acoustic energy densities and local pressure amplitudes in microfluidics by holographic time-lapse imaging. Lab on a Chip, 18(13), pp. 1921-1927. (doi:doi10.1039/c8lc00149a) (PMID:29878010)
Palazzolo, G., Moroni, M., Soloperto, A., Aletti, G., Naldi, G., Vassalli, M. , Nieus, T. and Difato, F. (2017) Fast wide-volume functional imaging of engineered in vitro brain tissues. Scientific Reports, 7, 8499. (doi:10.1038/s41598-017-08979-8) (PMID:28819205) (PMCID:PMC5561227)
Ossola, D., Dorig, P., Voros, J., Zambelli, T. and Vassalli, M. (2016) Serial weighting of micro-objects with resonant microchanneled cantilevers. Nanotechnology, 27(41), 415502. (doi:10.1088/0957-4484/27/41/415502) (PMID:27608651)
Professional activities & recognition
- 2016: Endeavour Research Fellowship, Australian Government
- 2014: Swiss National Science Foundation
Grant committees & research advisory boards
- 2014: FABCrea, President of the advisory board
- 2018 - 2019: Regional life science pole (PLSV), Liguria, Italy, Scientific Board
- 2016 - 2018: Regional Biotechnology Pole, Liguria, Italy, Scientific board
- 2016: Scientific Reports
- 2018: Biophysical Reviews
Professional & learned societies
- 2018 - 2020: Secretary, Italian Society for Pure and Applied Biophysics
- 2016 - 2018: Member, Optical Society of America
- 2014 - 2017: Member, Italian Society of Physics
- 2014 - 2016: Secretary, Italian Society for Pure and Applied Biophysics
- 2012 - 2020: Member, Italian Society for Pure and Applied Biophysics
Selected international presentations
- 2018: Invited Lecturer at the International Biophysics School "Academician Radoslav K.Andjus" (NERKA) on Mechanobiology (Kotor, Montenegro)
- 2018: Plenary speaker at the Regional Biophysics Conference (Zrece, Slovenia)
- 2017: Technical Lecturer at the International School on Computational Microscopy (Amalfi, Italy)
- 2015: Invited lecturer at the Nano-bio imaging workshop (Bologna, Italy)
- 2014: Invited lecturer at the Fall Meeting of the European Materials Research Society (Warsaw, Poland)
Potential PhD projects
Please find below a list of ideas for potential PhD projects, to be carried out at the School of Engineering, in the context of the CeMi, and in collaboration with national and international academic and industrial partners (see details in the specific description). Other arguments in th context of mechanobiology and experimental biophysics are also available. If you are interested and you want additional information, please contact me via email to schedule a dedicated meeting.
Exploiting piezo1 as a driver in osteogenic differentiation
- Aim: address the role of piezo1 in the process of bone formation and exploit the findings towards regenerative medicine applications
- Further readings: Piezo1 mechanosensitive channels: what are they and why are they important
- In collaboration with: Prof Matthew Dalby @UofG ; Prof Boris Martinac @VCCRI Sydney
High throughput single cell mechanosensitivity assay
- Aim: design and implement a microfluidic chip for measuring the mechanical response of single cells to mechanical stimuli with high throughput using fluorescence
- Further readings: GPR68 Senses Flow and Is Essential for Vascular Physiology
- In collaboration with: Dr Manlio Tassieri @ UofG
Identification of label-free biomarkers in visceral myopathy
- Aim: identification of robust single cell label-free biomarkers providing support for diagnosis in visceral myopathy, a rare and life threatening disease with poor genetic markers.
- Involved techniques: high content screening, imaging flow cytometry, high throughput mechanotyping, traction force microscopy
- In collaboration with: children's hospital Giannina Gaslini, Genova, Italy