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Diana Passaro, laureate of an ERC Starting Grant 2023

Diana Passaro, laureate of an ERC Starting Grant 2023

Congratulations to Diana Passaro, PhD, researcher Inserm, head of the “Leukemia and Niche Dynamics” team (CARPEM Team 21), winner of an ERC Starting Grant 2023. These prestigious Starting Grants are awarded by the European Research Council to young researchers to enable them to launch their own projects, train their teams and pursue their best ideas.

On this occasion, we invite you to discover her portrait and research projects.

Her research team investigates the intimate relationships between endothelial cells (vascular cells) and leukemia through the development of innovative tools:
mouse models to visualize, trace and specifically manipulate endothelial cells,
humanized 3D models that mimic the vascularized leukemic microenvironment to study human disease and develop rapid, reproducible drug screening platforms to facilitate transfer of results to patients.

Her ERC Starting grant-winning project, PLASTECITY (PLASTicity of Endothelial Cell as new Target for acute myeloId leukemia TherapY), explores how the development of acute leukemia affects healthy cells in the microenvironment, in particular endothelial cells which play a crucial role in the bone marrow. The project is based on the hypothesis that certain endothelial cells regress to a less differentiated, more plastic state, favoring disease progression. To test this hypothesis, mouse models will be used, and advanced microscopy and sequencing techniques will be employed to describe endothelial cell plasticity. By identifying the molecular factors involved in this process, the study aims to identify new therapeutic targets to prevent the formation of a leukemia-promoting environment in the bone marrow. These targets will then be tested using humanized chip models developed by the team. The results will contribute to preclinical validation and bring us closer to the development of more effective treatments for patients

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