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My research team studies bacterial infections of the brain using both in vitro and in vivo infection models to study host-pathogen interaction.

Federico Iovino

Assistant professor

My research team studies bacterial infections of the brain using both in vitro and in vivo infection models to study host-pathogen interaction.

About me

I have studied Biological Sciences, bachelor and master, at the University of Pavia in Italy. After my undergraduate studies, I moved to the University Medical Center of Groningen, The Netherlands, to perform my PhD in Medical Microbiology under the supervision of Prof. Jan Maarten van Dijl and Prof. Grietje Molema studying how Streptococcus pneumoniae interact with endothelial cells causing invasive pneumococcal disease, in particular meningitis. During my PhD in 2010 I have been visiting PhD student in the lab of Prof. Carlos Orihuela in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, USA. 

After my PhD graduation in November 2013, I immediately started my postdoc in December 2013 at the Karolinska Institutet in the laboratory of Prof. Birgitta Henriques-Normark where I continued my studies on pneumococcal meningitis. My postdoc studies have been published in leading international journals like The Journal of Clinical Investigation, The Journal of Experimental Medicine, The Journal of Infectious Diseases and Trends in Microbiology.

I am currently Assistant Professor at the Karolinska Institutet. My team conducts research focused on studying how bacterial pathogens after translocation across the blood-brain barrier interact with the different cell types of the brain (astrocytes, pericytes, neurons and microglia).

 

The Bacterial Meningitis Research Team

  • Federico Iovino, Assistant Professor
  • Sigrún Thórsdóttir, PhD student  
  • Tabusi Mahebali, Research Assistant
  • Mariana Oliveira, Undergraduate student (Biomedicine Bachelor Programme)
  • Maria Lysandrou, Undergaduate student (Biomedicine Bachelor Programme)

 

IVIS-SpectrumCT In Vivo Imaging Core Laboratory

I am also the manager of the new IVIS-SpectrumCT In Vivo Imaging Core Laboratory in the BSL2 area of KMB Animal Facility. For more information please visit the website below:

https://ki.se/en/mtc/ivis-spectrumct-in-vivo-imaging-core-laboratory

Research description

Biology of Streptococcus pneumoniae as cause of bacterial meningitis

Identification and characterization of the virulence factors that enable the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and cause meningitis.

Publications:

The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2016

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27348589 

The Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2017

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28515075

Development of new meningitis therapies to protect the brain towards bacterial invasion

Development of new therapeutic strategies to block the interaction of Streptococcus pneumoniae with the blood-brain barrier preventing the occurrence of meningitis in hosts without underlying diseases and in immunocompromised hosts (brain cancer models).

Publications:

The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2018

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29701809

The interplay between pneumococci and microglia, the primary immune cells of the brain

Study the biology of how microglia sense bacterial pathogens and initiate phagocytosis and/or neuroinflammatory process during meningitis pathogenesis; Study how pneumococci in the brain can survive and grow within microglia.

Publications:

Frontiers in Microbiology, 2019

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30967852

Neurological sequelae caused by meningitis: Interaction between pneumococci and neurons

Neurons are the main cell component of the brain, and mediate many functions controlled by the brain. Neurological sequelae caused by bacterial infection of the brain occur in 50-70% of meningitis survivors and are often related to neuronal damage. Our goal is to study how pneumococci can interact with neurons, invade and kill neuronal cells.

Role of astrocytes and pericytes in the passage of bacteria from the blood-brain barrier endothelium to the brain tissue

Astrocytes and pericytes are in close contact with the BBB endothelium. Our preliminary data show that bacteria exiting from the blood vessels are in close contact with astrocytes and pericytes, suggesting that these two cell types can function as a bridge for the bacteria to reach the brain tissue.

Nanotechnology to study host-pathogen interaction

Study of how flame-derived nanoparticles can be used as fluorescent dye to study bacterial interaction with the host using live-cell imaging (Collaboration with Dr. Georgios Sotiriou, MTC Department, Karolinska Institutet).

Teaching portfolio

Biomedicine Bachelor Programme - Microbiology and Immunology Course

Bacteriology. Role: Course Coordinator and Lecturer

Bacteriology Laboratory. Role: Course Coordinator and Lecturer

Medical School

Medical Microbiology. Role: Laboratory Teacher and Lecturer

Education

2013  PhD in Medical Microbiology (University of Groningen, The Netherlands).

2008  Master in Experimental and Applied Biology, Class of Human Biology and Biomedical Sciences (University of Pavia, Italy).

2006  Bachelor in Biological Sciences, Class of Human Biology and Biomedical Sciences (University of Pavia, Italy).

Academic honours, awards and prizes

Research Grants

2019    StratNeuro Start-up grant

            Petrus and Augusta Hedlund Foundation Grant for Medical Research

            Clas Groschinsky Foundation Grant for Medical Research

            Loo and Hans Osterman Foundation Research Grant in Geriatrics

2018   Petrus and Augusta Hedlund Foundation Grant for Medical Research

            Jeansson Foundation Grant for Medical Research

           Åke Wiberg Foundation Grant in Medicine

           HKK Kronprinsessan Lovisa Association for Child Care

           Stiftelsen Längmanska Kulturfonden Grant in Medicine

           Karolinska Institutet Research Foundation Grant (Pediatrics)

           Karolinska Institutet Research Foundation Grant (Medical Research)

           Fredrik and Ingrid Thuring Foundation

2017  Jeansson Foundation Grant for Medical Research

          Åke Wiberg Foundation Grant in Medicine

2016  Karolinska Institutet for Doctoral Education (KID) Grant (co-applicant)

 

Academic distinctions

2014  SpotLight of Infection & Immunity (peer-review international journal)

The manuscript “F. Iovino et al., Infection & Immunity. 82: 3555-66 (2014)” selected by the editorial board as article of significant interest.

http://iai.asm.org/content/82/9/3515.full?sid=a4e3ec5f-3e2f-45ba-bb07-fed3929e6be8

 

Journal Reviewer

The International Journal of Medical Microbiology; Microbiology (Microbiology Society); Microbial Pathogenesis; Pathogens and Disease (FEMS); Virulence; Cell Systems; Journal of Neuroinflammation; Brain Research; Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology; Infection and Drug Resistance; PLOS ONE.

 

Book Editor

Editor of the book on the subject Streptococcus pneumoniae, new volume for lab protocol based book series Methods in Molecular Biology, published by Springer.

https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-1-4939-9199-0

Published book chapters (available on Pubmed):

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30929216

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30929214

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30929205

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30929203

 

Editor of the Section Clinical Infectious Diseases, part of the Encyclopedia of Infection and Immunity, published by Elsevier (scheduled publication September 2020).

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