Maura’s research focuses on Stem cells Biology and Cells-Biomaterials interaction

Maura Cimino is involved in two projects: she aims at the development of proof-of-concept data to confirm that we can mimic the perivascular niche with boronolectin-based biomaterials (project 1) and that we can model vascular ageing with patient-derived engineered small diameter vessels (project 2). This indeed includes the characterisation of novel biomaterial surfaces and the associated biological assessment of these surfaces, in terms of their ability to support the adhesion and growth of patient-derived cells and cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells.  In addition, Maura is responsible for the retrieval of human tissues from clinical collaborators (from consenting young through to old donors), and the associated isolation, purification and culture of pericytes and endothelial cells.

Maura Cimino graduated in Molecular and Industrial Biotechnology at the University of Bologna (Italy), in 2012. Her master thesis project was performed at the National Institute of Health and Sciences (NIEHS, USA) under the supervision of Prof. Roel Shaaper. It lead to the development of a genetic system able to create a library of mutants on an essential gene in Escherichia coli.

In 2013 she joined the Bioengineered Surfaces team of Prof. M. Cristina Martins at Institute of Investigation and Innovation in Health, i3S (Portugal), where she conducted her PhD studies under the guidance of Prof. M. Cristina Martins and Dr. Francisco Belda, the industrial partner of the project. In fact Maura's PhD also included a 18 months period working as project manager of Pathogen Safety Validation Studies at Grifols (Spain), a world leader pharmaceutical company for the production of plasma proteins. 

The main focus of Maura's doctoral work was the expansion of human Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cells (hMSC) in xeno-free conditions and the development of novel surfaces for cell culture. Her PhD has provided an alternative strategy for hMSC production as therapeutic agents for regenerative therapies. Maura has developed a new, pharmaceutical-grade cell culture medium and a novel engineered surface that enhance MSC proliferation in vitro, maintaining cells karyotype stability, undifferentiated state as well as the capacity to differentiate into tri-mesodermal lineage.

Key Publications

Optimization of the use of a pharmaceutical grade xeno-free medium for in vitro expansion of human mesenchymal stem/stromal cells".  Cimino M, Gonçalves RM, Bauman E, Logarinho E, Barroso-Vilares M, Barrias CC , Martins MCL. J Tissue Eng Regen Med. 2018 Mar;12(3):e1785-e1795.

- Xeno-free strategies for safe human mesenchymal stem/stromal cells expansion: soluble supplements and surface/coatings. Cimino M, Gonçalves RM, Barrias CC, Martins MCL. Stem Cells International. Article ID 6597815. 2017.

Industry Engagement

2013 -2014 :Project manager of Pathogen Safety Validation Studies at Grifols S.A (Parets del Valles, Spain).