Student Spotlight

Lab Experience at the Neural Stem Cell Lab – UNIMI – Beatrice Antoniazzi

Lab Experience Personal reflection

Beatrice Antoniazzi, Virgilio 5° Cohort Student, UNIMI

I got the opportunity to do my 2nd lab rotation at the Neural Stem Cell Lab, one of the research facilities of the Dino Ferrari Center and the University of Milan (UNIMI), located in Foundation
IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan.
PI of the laboratory: Prof. Stefania Corti
Tutor: Dr. Linda Ottoboni
Prof. Corti’s lab focuses on cellular and molecular therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, especially motor neuron (ALS – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, SMA – Spinal Muscular Atrophy,
SMARD1 – Spinal Muscular Atrophy with Respiratory Distress type 1), neuromuscular diseases and neuropathies (CMT2A).
Patient-specific 2D and 3D models (iPSC-derived organoids patterned into brain/spinal cord) are generated to study the pathogenesis and develop new therapeutic strategies.

My experience & learnings:
Thanks to the advice of my mentor, Prof. Giorgio Eugenio Pajardi, I managed to direct my experience in the Virgilio Program towards the branch of research that interests me most:
regenerative medicine. What fascinates me most about this sector is the possibility of reprogramming specific cells of a patient (for example: fibroblasts, leukocytes) with the aim of
differentiating them into the cells involved in the pathology, studying their molecular mechanisms and identifying a potentially working therapy.
Last year, in fact, I had the opportunity to start my scientific path by attending the Stem Cell Laboratory directed by Prof. Yvan Torrente, where I learned how to manage a stem cell culture.
Interacting with this field led me to want to delve deeper into the use of these cells for the study and treatment of pathologies, particularly neurological ones, and to want to engage with
organoids, 3D iPSC-derived model systems. PI Prof. Stefania Corti, Dr. Linda Ottoboni and the Neural Stem Cell Lab team guided and supported me during this experience, allowing me to
acquire the fundamental skills to generate and analyze brain and spinal organoids. They also helped me to improve my scientific reasoning by involving me in lab meetings where decisions
were made in light of experimental successes and failures.

For all these reasons, I am firmly convinced that this lab rotation was an essential step in my journey as a medical student aimed at deepening research in the advanced field of regenerative