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Gemma Palazzolo

Head of the Tissue Engineering Unit

Research Line

Enhanced Regenerative Medicine


IIT Central Research Labs Genova


Via Morego 30, 16163 Genova
+39 010 2896 884

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Gemma Palazzolo leads the unit of Tissue Engineering in the research line of Enhanced Regenerative Medicine. She is co-PI of the EU H2020 FET PROACTIVE project HERMES, a highly interdisciplinary project, whose long-term vision is to heal epilepsy, a so far incurable brain disorder characterized by aberrant synaptic transmission and nervous tissue degeneration.

Dr. Palazzolo’s research focus is to engineer bioinspired extracellular matrices that support cell organization into nervous tissue and thus help rebuild the brain matter, damaged or lost due to brain disorders.

Dr. Palazzolo earned her M.Sc. degree in Biotechnologies from the University of Palermo (Italy) in 2007 and, there, she gained her PhD in 2011, with a thesis on proteomic characterization of breast cancer extracellular microvesicles. Following her PhD, she obtained a Postdoctoral fellowship at ETH Zurich (Switzerland) (2011-2014), where she broadened her interests to embrace natural biomolecules, biopolymers and tissue engineering, to regenerate body tissues like cartilage and brain. In 2015 she moved to IIT, as Postdoctoral fellow, where she has run a broad range of activities, which include: i) developing in vitro brain tissue structures; ii) exploiting optical approaches to monitor and/or modulate the functional connectivity of neural networks; iii) establishing patient derived tumor spheroids as in vitro platforms for drug screening.

Dr. Palazzolo has been visiting scientist, during her PhD, at FHNW Basel (Switzerland), in 2009-2010; and visiting Postdoc at Tampere University (Finland), in 2014, in the context of the 3DNeuroN project (FP7-ICT 2012-2015;

Gemma Palazzolo holds patents on tissue engineering, cell manipulation and volumetric imaging.


2019 G. Palazzolo (co-PI) Hybrid Enhanced Regenerative Medicine Systems – HERMES. EU H2020 FET-PROACT-01-2018. 01/01/2019 – 31/12/2023 (€ 8 429 857,50)

Selected Publications

Broguiere N, Husch A, Palazzolo G, Bradke F, Madduri S, Zenobi-Wong M. Macroporous hydrogels derived from aqueous dynamic phase separation. Biomaterials (2019) 200:56-65. doi: 10.1016/j.Biomaterials.2019.01.047.

Soloperto A, Boccaccio A, Contestabile A, Moroni M, Hallinan GI, Palazzolo G, Chad J, Deinhardt K, Carugo D, Difato F. Mechano-sensitization of mammalian neuronal networks through expression of the bacterial mechanosensitive MscL channel. Journal of Cell Science (2018) doi: 10.1242/jcs.210393.

Palazzolo G, Moroni M, Soloperto A, Aletti G, Naldi G, Vassalli M, Nieus T, Difato F. Fast wide-volume functional imaging of engineered in vitro brain tissues. Scientific Reports (2017) 7(1):8499. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-08979-8

Kerschenmeyer A, Arlov Ø, Malheiro V, Steinwachs M, Rottmar M, Maniura-Weber K, Palazzolo G*, Zenobi-Wong M*. Anti-oxidant and immune-modulatory properties of sulfated alginate derivatives on human chondrocytes and macrophages. Biomaterials Science (2017) 5(9):1756-1765. doi: 10.1039/c7bm00341b. *Corresponding authors

Evrova O, Hosseini V, Milleret V, Palazzolo G, Zenobi-Wong M, Sulser T, Buschmann J, Eberli D. Hybrid randomly electrospun PLGA:PEO fibrous scaffolds enhancing myoblast differentiation and alignment. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces (2016) 8(46):31574-31586

Soloperto A, Bisio M, Palazzolo G, Chiappalone M, Bonifazi P, Difato F. Modulation of neural network activity through single cell ablation: an in vitro model of minimally invasive neurosurgery. Molecules (2016) doi: 10.3390/molecules21081018

Soloperto A, Palazzolo G, Tsushima H, Chieregatti E, Vassalli M, Difato F. Laser nano-neurosurgery from gentle manipulation to nano-incision of neuronal cells: an advanced neurotechnology tool. Frontiers in Neuroscience (2016) 10:101. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2016.00101

Palazzolo G, Broguiere N, Dermutz H, Cenciarelli O, Zenobi-Wong M. Ultra-soft alginate hydrogels support long term 3D functional neuronal networks. Tissue engineering Part A (2015) 21(15-16):2177-85

Mhanna R, Aditya A, Palazzolo G, Vallmajo Martín Q, Möller S, Becher J, Schabelrauch M, Zenobi-Wong M. Chondrocyte culture in 3D alginate sulfate hydrogels promotes proliferation while maintaining expression of chondrogenic markers. Tissue Engineering part A (2013) doi:10.1089/ten.TEA.2013.0544

Scaffaro R, Botta L, Sanfilippo M, Gallo G, Palazzolo G, Puglia AM. Combining in the melt physical and biological properties of poly(caprolactone) and chlorhexidine to obtain antimicrobial surgical monofilaments. Applied Microbiology Biotechnology (2013) 97(1):99-109.

Palazzolo G, Horvath P, Zenobi-Wong M. The flavonoid isoquercitrin promotes neurite elongation by reducing RhoA activity. PLoS One (2012) 7(11):e49979.

Palazzolo G, Albanese NN, DI Cara G, Gygax D, Vittorelli ML, Pucci-Minafra I. Proteomic analysis of exosome-like vesicles derived from breast cancer cells. Anticancer Research (2012) 32(3):847-60.


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