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Nicola Tirelli

Senior Researcher Tenured - Principal Investigator

Research Line

Polymers and Biomaterials


IIT Central Research Labs Genova


+39 010 2896 923
+39 010 71781 923
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Nicola was born in Rome, but grew up and studied in the town of Pisa. 

There, he graduated in Chemistry (1992) and later obtained a PhD in Industrial Chemistry (1996) at the local University, working on photosensitive  (photochromic) and non-linear optically active polymers under the supervision of Prof. Francesco Ciardelli.

During his PhD, he spent one year at the ETH Zurich, as a guest of the group of Macromolecular Chemistry (Dept. of Materials) then led by Prof. Ueli Suter. He stayed as a postdoc until 1997, then joining in the same department the group of Prof. Jeff Hubbell as an Oberassistent (position broadly analogous to Habilitant in Germany, or to Assistant Professor in the US), after a short spell at the EPF Lausanne. Nicola crossed the Channel in 2003, being appointed as Senior Lecturer at the School of Pharmacy of the Victoria University of Manchester (VUM); when in 2005 this amalgamated with the second university of Manchester (UMIST) to form the new University of Manchester, Nicola had just been promoted full Professor and chair of Polymers and Biomaterials. He was one of the last professors appointed in the VUM.

In 2010 he accepted a split position with the School of Materials, returning to the School of Pharmacy, then School of Health Sciences/Division of Pharmacy & Optometry.

In 2017 he has joined the IIT in Genova.

In Manchester, Nicola is currently director of the Centre of Doctoral Training in Regenerative Medicine and academic lead of the NorthWest Centre of Advanced Drug Delivery.


Nicola has published >140 research papers, and has an h-index of 37 (Google Scholar). He was editor of the journal Reactive & Functional Polymers (Elsevier) between 2006 and 2012.

Selected Publications


Selected recent publications:

E. Lallana, J.M. Rios de la Rosa, A. Tirella, M. Pelliccia, A. Gennari1, I.J. Stratford, S. Puri, M. Ashford, N. Tirelli “Chitosan/hyaluronic acid nanoparticles: rational design revisited for RNA delivery”, Molecular Pharmaceutics, (2017) in press

A. Gennari, C. Gujral, E. Hohn, F. Cellesi, N. Tirelli “Revisiting boronate/diol complexation as a double stimulus-responsive bioconjugation”, Bioconjugate Chemistry, 28 (2017), 1391-1402 DOI: 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.7b00080 

J.M. Rios de la Rosa, A. Tirella, A. Gennari, I.J. Stratford, N. Tirelli, “The CD44-mediated uptake of hyaluronic acid-based carriers in macrophages”, Advanced Healthcare Materials, 6 (2017) 1601012. DOI 10.1002/adhm.201601012    

J. Burke, R. Donno, S. Cartmell, N. Tirelli, “The effect of branching (star architecture) on poly(D,L-lactide) (PDLLA) degradation and drug delivery”, Biomacromolecules, 18 (2017), 728-739 DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.6b01524 

A. Gennari, M. Pelliccia, R. Donno, I. Kimber N. Tirelli “Mannosylation allows for synergic (CD44/C-type lectin) uptake of hyaluronic acid nanoparticles in dendritic cells, but only upon correct ligand presentation”, Advanced Healthcare Materials, 5 (2016) 966-976 DOI:10.1002/adhm.201500941

R. d’Arcy, A. Siani, E. Lallana, N. Tirelli “The influence of primary structure on responsiveness. Oxidative, thermal and thermo-oxidative responses in polysulfides”, Macromolecules, 48 (2015) 8108-8120. DOI:10.1021/acs.macromol.5b02007

D. Jeanmaire, G.A. Timco,A. Gennari,J.S.P. Walsh, K.J. Williams, R.E.P. Winpenny, N. Tirelli “Binary behaviour of an oxidation-responsive MRI nano contrast agent”, Chemical Communications, 51(6) (2015) 1074-1076. DOI: 10.1039/c4cc08024f.

 A. Siani, R.R. Khaw, O.W.G. Manley, F. Cellesi, R. Donno, N. Tirelli “Serum-containing media affect fibronectin localization, fibrillization, and myofibroblast marker expression”, Scientific Reports, 5 (2015) 9278. DOI: 10.1038/srep09278.



He received a Bessel award from the Humboldt foundation in 2004, was EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow 2005-2010 and visiting professor at the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Surfaces (Golm, Germany; 2004) and at the Institute of Biomaterials Science, Helmholtz Centre Geesthacht (Teltow, Germany; 2012). 


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