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Gianni Ciofani

Senior Researcher - Principal Investigator

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Smart Bio-Interfaces




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Gianni Ciofani (born on August 14th, 1982) is Associate Professor at the Polytechnic University of Torino, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (Torino, Italy) and Senior Researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Smart Bio-Interfaces Research Line (Pontedera, Pisa, Italy).

He received his Master Degree in Biomedical Engineering (with honors) from the University of Pisa, Italy, in July 2006, and, in the same year, his Diploma in Engineering (with honors) from the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna of Pisa, Italy. In January 2010, he obtained his Ph.D. in Innovative Technologies (with honors) from the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna. From January 2010 to August 2013 he was Post-Doc at the IIT, Center for Micro-BioRobotics @SSSA, where, from September 2013 to October 2015, he was Researcher in the framework of the Smart Materials Platform. In October 2015 he was appointed Associate Professor at the Polytechnic University of Torino, maintaining his research activity in IIT where he is currently Principal Investigator of the Smart Bio-Interfaces Research Line.

His main research interests are in the field of smart nanomaterials for nanomedicine, bio/non-bio interactions, and biology in altered gravity conditions. He is coordinator or unit leader of many grants/projects, and in 2016 he was awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant. Gianni Ciofani is author of about 120 ISI papers (H-index 30, excluding self-citations), 3 edited books, and 14 book chapters. He delivered about 35 invited talks/lectures in international contexts and, for his research activity, he was awarded several national and international prizes. He serves as Reviewer for more than 100 international journals, as Editorial Board Member of Scientific Reports, of the International Journal of Nanomedicine, of the Journal of Physics: Materials, of Bioactive Materials, and of Advances in Nano Research; he is Specialty Chief Editor (Nanobiotechnology) for Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.

Gianni Ciofani is professor of Biomimetic Systems and Bionanotechnologies, and supervisor of several M.Sc. and Ph.D. students.


Granted projects

  1. Magnetic solid lipid nanoparticles as a multifunctional platform against glioblastoma multiforme (SLaMM), grant number 709613, European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant, 2017-2022 (Principal Investigator)
  2. Advanced in vitro physiological models: Towards real-scale, biomimetic and biohybrid barriers-on-a-chip (BBBhybrid), grant number 832045, European Research Council (ERC) Proof of Concept Grant, 2019-2020 (Principal Investigator)
  3. Insight into new therapeutic preclinical strategies in Autosomal Recessive Spastic Ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay type, grant number RF-2016-02361610, Italian Ministry of Health, 2018-2021 (Unit Coordinator)
  4. Nanotechnological countermeasures against oxidative stress in muscle cells exposed to microgravity (NOEMI), project number ILSRA-2014-0012 (implementation phase), European Space Agency & grant number 2018-0156, Fondazione CaRiPLo, 2018-2020 (Principal Investigator)
  5. A biomimetic and neuroprotective delivery nanocapsule for the targeted treatment of post-ischemic stroke effects (BIONICS), grant number 793644, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship, 2018-2020 (Supervisor)
  6. Cerium oxide nanoparticles as countermeasure against reactive oxygen species production in altered gravity conditions: Preliminary investigation on planarians (PlanOx2), grant number CORA-GBF-2017-001, European Space Agency, 2017-2019 (Principal Investigator)
  7. Nanotechnology solutions against oxidative stress in muscle tissue during long-term microgravity exposure (NANOROS), grant number 2016-7-U.0, Italian Space Agency, 2016-2019 (Principal Investigator)
  8. Starting grant "Compagnia di San Paolo", grant number 55_AI16GC01, Compagnia di San Paolo, 2016-2018 (Principal Investigator)
  9. New self-powered devices for cochlear stimulation based on piezoelectric nanomaterials, grant number RF-2011-02350464, Italian Ministry of Health, 2014-2018 (Unit Coordinator)

Other projects

  1. Nanotechnological countermeasures against oxidative stress in muscle cells exposed to microgravity (NOEMI), project number ILSRA-2014-0012 (definition phase), European Space Agency, 2015-2017 (Principal Investigator)
  2. In vitro effects of the Bayer’s proprietary compound BAY 43-9006 (Sorafenib) linked to magnetic nanoparticles on HepG2 cell line, project number US208314731, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc., 2014-2016 (Principal Investigator)


  • Cover image of issue 5(2), February 2019, of ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering
  • Cover image of issue 11(1), January 2019, of Nanoscale
  • International Association for Advanced Materials (IAAM) 2018 Scientist Medal
  • Cover image of issue 14(6), February 2018, of Small
  • Cover image of issue 6(9), May 2017, of Advanced Healthcare Materials
  • Winner of the Spin Your Thesis! Campaign (2016), promoted by the ESA, presenting the experiment Hypergravity-induced oxidative stress in planarians: Nanotechnology-based countermeasures
  • Cover image of issue 4(11), August 2015, of Advanced Healthcare Materials
  • Cover image of issue 7(7), February 2015, of Nanoscale
  • Cover image of issue 31(11), November 2014, of Pharmaceutical Research
  • Winner of the Spin Your Thesis! Campaign (2014), promoted by the ESA, presenting the experiment Implementation of hypergravity in mammalian cell transfection procedures
  • Cover image of issue 14(5), May 2014, of Macromolecular Bioscience
  • Winner of the Spin Your Thesis! Campaign (2013), promoted by the ESA, presenting the experiment Combination of hypergravity and nanotechnology for the improvement of the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells into osteoblasts
  • Cover image of issue 114(1), July 2012, of the Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering
  • European Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Doctoral Award (EDA) 2011
  • “Nital I-Robot - Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna” 2010 award for the Ph.D. Thesis
  • “Massimo Grattarola” 2010 award for the Ph.D. Thesis
  • Winner of the “Salvatore Venuta” 2010 scholarship for young researchers in nanomedicine
  • Winner of the Spin Your Thesis! Campaign (2010), promoted by the ESA, presenting the experiment Investigation of hypergravity on proliferation, metabolism and differentiation of muscle cells
  • STSBC-Roche 2009 award (Italian-Switzerland Society of Biomedical and Chemical Sciences and Roche Diagnostics Ltd.) for researches in the fields of biomedicine and/or biotechnology
  • Excellent Paper Award 2009 of the Society for Biotechnology of Japan, with the paper Bi-compartmental device for dynamic cell co-culture: design, realisation and preliminary results (Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering, 105(5): 536-544, 2008)
  • AICC 2008 award (Italian Cell Culture Association, national branch of the European Tissue Culture Society) for young researchers in the biomedical field
  • ISIB-CNR 2006 award (Institute of Biomedical Engineering, National Research Council) for the Master Degree Thesis
  • Winner of the 8th Parabolic Flight Campaign (2005), promoted by the ESA and NOVESPACE, presenting the experiment Verification of the Fitts’ law in microgravity and hypergravity environment and energetic considerations


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I numeri di IIT

L’Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) è una fondazione di diritto privato - cfr. determinazione Corte dei Conti 23/2015 “IIT è una fondazione da inquadrare fra gli organismi di diritto pubblico con la scelta di un modello di organizzazione di diritto privato per rispondere all’esigenza di assicurare procedure più snelle nella selezione non solo nell’ambito nazionale dei collaboratori, scienziati e ricercatori ”.

IIT è sotto la vigilanza del Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca e del Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze ed è stato istituito con la Legge 326/2003. La Fondazione ha l'obiettivo di promuovere l'eccellenza nella ricerca di base e in quella applicata e di favorire lo sviluppo del sistema economico nazionale. La costruzione dei laboratori iniziata nel 2006 si è conclusa nel 2009.

Lo staff complessivo di IIT conta circa 1440 persone. L’area scientifica è rappresentata da circa l’85% del personale. Il 45% dei ricercatori proviene dall’estero: di questi, il 29% è costituito da stranieri provenienti da oltre 50 Paesi e il 16% da italiani rientrati. Oggi il personale scientifico è composto da circa 60 principal investigators, circa 110 ricercatori e tecnologi di staff, circa 350 post doc, circa 500 studenti di dottorato e borsisti, circa 130 tecnici. Oltre 330 posti su 1400 creati su fondi esterni. Età media 34 anni. 41% donne / 59 % uomini.

Nel 2015 IIT ha ricevuto finanziamenti pubblici per circa 96 milioni di euro (80% del budget), conseguendo fondi esterni per 22 milioni di euro (20% budget) provenienti da 18 progetti europei17 finanziamenti da istituzioni nazionali e internazionali, circa 60 progetti industriali

La produzione di IIT ad oggi vanta circa 6990 pubblicazioni, oltre 130 finanziamenti Europei e 11 ERC, più di 350 domande di brevetto attive, oltre 12 start up costituite e altrettante in fase di lancio. Dal 2009 l’attività scientifica è stata ulteriormente rafforzata con la creazione di dieci centri di ricerca nel territorio nazionale (a Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) e internazionale (MIT ed Harvard negli USA) che, unitamente al Laboratorio Centrale di Genova, sviluppano i programmi di ricerca del piano scientifico 2015-2017.

IIT: the numbers

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) is a public research institute that adopts the organizational model of a private law foundation. IIT is overseen by Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca and Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze (the Italian Ministries of Education, Economy and Finance).  The Institute was set up according to Italian law 326/2003 with the objective of promoting excellence in basic and applied research andfostering Italy’s economic development. Construction of the Laboratories started in 2006 and finished in 2009.

IIT has an overall staff of about 1,440 people. The scientific staff covers about 85% of the total. Out of 45% of researchers coming from abroad 29% are foreigners coming from more than 50 countries and 16% are returned Italians. The scientific staff currently consists of approximately 60 Principal Investigators110 researchers and technologists350 post-docs and 500 PhD students and grant holders and 130 technicians. External funding has allowed the creation of more than 330 positions . The average age is 34 and the gender balance proportion  is 41% female against 59% male.

In 2015 IIT received 96 million euros in public funding (accounting for 80% of its budget) and obtained 22 million euros in external funding (accounting for 20% of its budget). External funding comes from 18 European Projects, other 17 national and international competitive projects and approximately 60 industrial projects.

So far IIT accounts for: about 6990 publications, more than 130 European grants and 11 ERC grants, more than 350 patents or patent applications12 up start-ups and as many  which are about to be launched. The Institute’s scientific activity has been further strengthened since 2009 with the establishment of 11 research nodes throughout Italy (Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) and abroad (MIT and Harvard University, USA), which, along with the Genoa-based Central Lab, implement the research programs included in the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan.