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Ruggiero Norfo


Postdoctoral researcher

I am a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Haematopoietic Stem Cell Biology (HSCB) Lab under the supervision of Sten Eirik Jacobsen and Adam Mead. I received my PhD from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in 2014.

My research interests lie in the field of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). MPNs are a heterogeneous group of blood tumours that arise when a single HSC acquires one or more genetic lesions. While low-risk patients have a near-normal life expectancy, high-risk patients can develop major cardiovascular events or progress to more aggressive disorders, ie acute leukaemias. Mutant HSCs are the cells where MPNs originate and the only cells able to sustain the disease.

During my PhD, I analyzed and integrated the expression of genes and microRNAs in human CD34+ haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells from patients with an aggressive form of MPN. This analysis has led to the identification of microRNA-gene pairs whose aberrant expression confers certain aberrant features to this MPN sub-type. Since the HSCB lab has a long-standing interest and expertise in dissecting cellular hierarchies in normal and malignant haematopoiesis, my work here now specifically focuses on haematopoietic stem cells to try to elucidate how certain mutations specifically transform this cell type to give MPNs. Ultimately, this line of research will lead to a better understanding of the initiating events that cause these types of blood cancer.