Profile of a professor and R and D director in stem cell research
Inspired by International Women’s Day 2016,
Center for Regenerative Medicine Stefano Ferrari’s Professor and member of
board of directors of Holostem Terapie Avanzate S.r.l., Graziella Pellegrini
will give us an insight to her day-to-day life as a woman working in stem cell
Dr. Graziella Pellegrini is Associated Professor of Cell Biology, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, and Director of the Cell Therapy Program and Qualified Person in Centre for Regenerative Medicine “Stefano Ferrari” of the same University. She is founder and R&D Director of Holostem Terapie Avanzate S.r.l. Prof. Pellegrini was Chief of Laboratory of the Epithelial Stem Cell Regional Research Center of the Veneto Eye Bank Foundation (2002-2007), Deputy Head of Laboratory of Tissue Engineering at the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata, Rome (1996-2002), Senior Investigator in the Department of Cellularand Molecular Biology at Advanced Biotechnology Center, Genova (1993-1995), Head of Laboratory in Cellife Biotechnology, Milan (1991-1993) and Investigator in Laboratory of Cell Differentiation, Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro, Genova (1988-1991). She graduated in Chemistry and later in Pharmacy. She is founding member of International Ocular Surface Society, member of 9 scientific societies and member of national and international commitees. She is the author of over 70 scientific publications in major international peer reviewed journals and books and author of 7 international patents. She was invited speaker in more than 150 international meetings and symposia. She was born in Genova, Italy, July, 12, 1961.
Name and Title:
Graziella Pellegrini, Professor of Applied Biology at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy
Graziella Pellegrini, 54, is head of the Cell Therapy Program at Centre for Regenerative Medicine of University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, co-founder and R&D Director of the spin off company Holostem Terapie Avanzate, she lives most of her time in the countryside of Modena with her daughters and two cats.
My alarm goes off…
I am up from 4am, when I travel, to 7am when I go to Center for Regenerative Medicine. After my alarm goes off (at any time), I do not do anything before 3 consecutive Italian coffees. The coffee time is dedicated to thinking about organization and planning; after that, I start running all the day between the different commitments. I have a quick breakfast, while I am answering to urgent e-mails. When I go around, I take my notebook, smartphone and internet connection with me, to be always connected with collaborators and colleagues.
I’m responsible for…
I work in different teams: the teams of the spin off company, the team of related company, the teams with surgeons, the research teams: five PhD students, three post-docs and two students. Every day is different, sometime I work as manager, sometime I am in the lab working and thinking with the research teams and others I am applying for grants on behalf of the lab or I am in the operating room to follow surgery with cultured cells. I love to follow everything, sometimes too much!
I got the job…
I originally studied chemistry and pharmacy later on, but i was always interested in therapy and related biological research, therefore I started my post-doctoral experience on biology. I was immediately fascinated by cell cultures and the possibility to use them for human tissue regeneration: this was the real beginning of this field (1988), treating burnt patients.
I changed laboratories and cities every 5-6 years, then I reached University of Modena where they were interested in a big project on regenerative medicine and a young entrepreneur decided to support this type of products. I spent all my life working on new solutions for patients and interacting with a lot of collaborators and colleagues from all over the world, some of them became friends and together we were able to work on good science and enjoy life.
My typical day…
I could not describe a typical day, since everything is different: this week I am working on PhD student thesis and following experiments in the lab, next week I will be in Japan for seminars with regulatory authorities and scientists (I love Japan!). I could say that recurrent activities are to work off e-mails, read articles, write and look for new information and approaches. One enjoyable thing done recently, was to invite all research collaborators at home for a very long brainstorming and to cook for them Italian dishes.
The worst part of my job…
Is the endless to do list and the continuous interference in my activities by phone call or collaborators: sometime one of them enter in my office and tell me “It is OK: the result were positive in all samples!” and I do not understand what he/she is talking about….Sometime is hard to focus on my research knowing I’ve got a lot of pending activities.
The best part of my job…
There are several important things that I like: the idea of treating patients with poor or no alternative, changing their Iife is simply wonderful! It is a motivation that provide a reason to wake up in the morning and to study up to late night! In addition, understanding mechanism and solving problem is fascinating and finally the synergistic interaction with people everywhere is great! Teaching student is motivating also, since they are the future and we can help them to be rigorous in their experiments and ethically correct towards patients. The company work is demanding but essential to make results available to patients, and the collaborators are so keen!
I should say that sometime I think that I would stop the world and get off …
When I leave the lab, I like practice sports or dance, cooking for friends and family (particularly in the week end, when the week, ends…) and reading. When possible, I like going to theater or concert. I am never in bed before 12:30 pm.
1988 — Investigator in Laboratory of Cell Differentiation, National Institute for Cancer Research Genova
1991 — Head of Laboratory in Cellife Biotechnology, Milan
1993 — Senior Investigator in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology at Advanced Biotechnology Center, Genova
1996 – Deputy Head of Laboratory of Tissue Engineering at the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata, Rome
2002 – Chief of Laboratory of the Epithelial Stem Cell Regional Research Center of the Veneto Eye Bank Foundation, Venice
2007 -at present Associated Professor of Cell Biology, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, and Director of the Cell Therapy Program and Qualified Person in Centre for Regenerative Medicine “Stefano Ferrari” of the same University. Founder and R&D Director of Holostem Terapie Avanzate S.r.l.
I always wanted to be…
A medical doctor, from the time I was 4 years old. In the end, I became a different type of medical doctor…and probably I had more fun!
I must acknowledge many people, who believed in me or supported me. The family is the first, and my first mentors, Maurizio Raiteri and Ranieri Cancedda. Some surgeons collaborating with me up to 19 years, Alessandro Lambiase e Paolo Rama, and the entrepreneurs believing in the regenerative medicine project, Andrea e Paolo Chiesi.