Assistant Professor and Group Leader

Principal Investigator and Group Leader

In my lab we investigate host-pathogen interactions during bacterial meningitis pathogenesis.

Federico Iovino

Assistant professor

Principal Investigator and Group Leader

In my lab we investigate host-pathogen interactions during bacterial meningitis pathogenesis.

Department and organisational affiliation:

About me

Dr. Federico Iovino has studied Human Biology and Biomedical Sciences, bachelor and master, at the University of Pavia in Italy. After his undergraduate studies, he moved to the University Medical Center of Groningen, The Netherlands, to perform his 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 his PhD in 2010 Federico has 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. His PhD studies on pneumococcal meningitis pathogenesis have been published by international microbiology and infectious diseases journals such as Cellular Microbiology, Infection and Immunity and mBio

After his PhD graduation in November 2013, Dr. Federico Iovino immediately started his postdoc in December 2013 at the Karolinska Institutet in the laboratory of Prof. Birgitta Henriques-Normark where he continued my studies on pneumococcal meningitis. His 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.

Dr. Federico Iovino was awarded in November 2018 with the 4-year funding for Assistant Professor position by the Karolinska Institutet Board of Research. Federico has started his own research team within the Unit of Prof. Birgitta Henriques-Normark until December 2020; in January 2021 he started his own lab at the Department of Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet, his group conducts research focused on studying how bacterial pathogens after translocation across the blood-brain barrier interact with microglia, the primary immune sentinels of the brain, and neurons, since neuronal damage is linked to many neurological disorders caused by bacterial meningitis. 

The Iovino Lab


      Alumni (former members)

  • Maria Lysandrou, Undergraduate student (Biomedicine Bachelor Program)
  • Mariana Oliveira, Undergraduate student (Biomedicine Bachelor Program)
  • Matas Grabauskas, Undergraduate student (Biomedicine Bachelor Program)

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.


The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2016 

The Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2017

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).


The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2018

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.


Frontiers in Microbiology, 2019

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.

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).


Chemical Communications, 2020


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:

Teaching portfolio

Biomedicine Bachelor Program - Immunology and Microbiology Course

Bacteriology. Role: Course Coordinator and Lecturer

Bacteriology Laboratory. Role: Course Coordinator and Lecturer

Medical School

Medical Microbiology. Role: Laboratory Teacher and Lecturer


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


Total number of publications on Pubmed and bioRxiv: 22

Pubmed link:

Total number of last-author and corresponding-author publications: 4

Total number of first-author publications: 15

Total citations: 359 (Google Scholar); H-index: 10 (Google Scholar); Total Impact Points: 121,854


Research Grants

2020  Vetenskapsrådet Starting Grant Medicine & Health

           Bjarne Ahlström Foundation Award in Clinical Neurology

           Karolinska Institutet Research Foundation (Medical Research)

           Clas Groschinsky Foundation           

           HKH Kronprinsessan Lovisa Association for Child Care

           Magnus Bergvall Foundation

           Tore Nilsson Foundation

2019    StratNeuro Start-up grant

            Petrus and Augusta Hedlund Foundation 

            Åke Wiberg Foundation 

            Clas Groschinsky Foundation

            Loo and Hans Osterman Foundation (Geriatrics)

            Fredrik and Ingrid Thuring Foundation

2018   Petrus and Augusta Hedlund Foundation

            Jeansson Foundation

           Åke Wiberg Foundation

           HKH Kronprinsessan Lovisa Association for Child Care

           Stiftelsen Längmanska Kulturfonden

           Karolinska Institutet Research Foundation (Pediatrics)

           Karolinska Institutet Research Foundation (Medical Research)

           Fredrik and Ingrid Thuring Foundation

2017  Jeansson Foundation 

          Åke Wiberg Foundation

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


Awards and Prizes

Bjarne Ahlström Minnesfonds pris 2020 for research in Clinical Neurology


Reviewer activity

International Journals: mBio; The International Journal of Medical Microbiology; Microbiology (Microbiology Society); Microbial Pathogenesis; Pathogens and Disease (FEMS); Virulence; Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology; Microorganisms MDPI; Pathogens MDPI; Antibiotics MDPI; Biomedicines MDPI; Current Research in Microbial Sciences; Infection and Drug Resistance; Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology; Cell Systems; Journal of Neuroinflammation; Brain Research; Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology; PLOS ONE.

Grant applications: UK Medical Research Council (MRC); CIISA grant call (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Lisbon, Portugal).


Editorial activity

Guest Editor at Vaccines MDPI (IF 4.76). Special Issues:

Topic Editor at Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology (IF 3.52). Research Topic:

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

Published book chapters (available on Pubmed):

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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