How do tissues in our body break down? Let's find out (to fix them)

Young researcher Alessandra Bonfanti has won a prestigious research grant for her studies in mechanobiology

Politecnico is at the top of the world rankings of universities also thanks to the frontier scientific research it carries out in its laboratories. The protagonists of this Italian record are the approximately 3,500 scientists and researchers of Politecnico. Among the hottest topics are obviously those related to the systemic transformation towards climate neutrality; and then, the world of digital, space exploration, life sciences, the movements embraced by the New European Bauhaus, the new frontiers in the study of matter... In particular, young researchers inject new life into the research system and grow innovative scientific strands. Politecnico invests in activities aimed precisely at encouraging young scientists of excellence to join in. Among many, this year we welcome twelve new young researchers who are among the best of their generation. They are here at Politecnico di Milano thanks to the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) fellowship programme. Let us introduce them... in alphabetical order.

ALESSANDRA BONFANTI deals with the mechanics of soft materials, with a focus on biological materials, both animal and plant. Her field is Mechanobiology, which focuses on the response of biological components - from the sub-cellular to the tissue scale - to mechanical signals for the regulation of biological processes - such as development, physiology and disease. One example is epithelial tissues subjected to mechanical strain during physiological processes: alveoli swell during respiration, epithelial cells in blood vessels are subjected to strain due to blood flow, the intestines contract and relax during digestion. When these tissues break down, a pathological condition is developed. Through the combination of advanced experimental instrumentation, such as the Organ-on-Chip, and new micromechanical models, Bonfanti aims to improve understanding of how tissues function and how they can and do break down, with a foreseeable impact on personalised care and the development of new treatments.

Read more: all Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) researchers in 2023 on MAP 12