Nicolino Valerio Dorrello, MD Phd, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Columbia University – New York - USA
End-stage lung disease is the third leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 400,000 deaths per year in the United States alone. To reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with lung disease, new therapeutic strategies to promote lung repair and regeneration are being explored. Previous attempts at bioengineering functional lungs from fully decellularized or synthetic scaffolds lacking functional vasculature have been largely unsuccessful. We have developed an ex vivo airway-specific approach utilizing a mild detergent solution to removing the pulmonary epithelium (de-epithelialization) while preserving the lung vasculature, extracellular matrix, and supporting cells (for example, fibroblasts, myocytes, and pericytes). The resulting vascularized lung grafts supported the attachment and growth of human adult pulmonary cells and stem cell-derived alveolar progenitor cells. This has provided the basis to new methodologies being investigated in our lab: de-epithelialization in vivo and selective removal of specific epithelial cells, such alveolar type II (ATII) cells in all ATII cell-dependent lung diseases.
Dr. Dorrello obtained his medical degree in 2000 from the Second University of Naples, Italy. In 2004, he finished his Ph.D. in the laboratory of Dr. Pagano in the Department of Pathology at New York University. During his Ph.D., he focused on the role of ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis in cell cycle regulation. Remarkably, Dr. Dorrello’s original findings were published in journals of highest reputation, such as Science, Nature, and Molecular Cell. In 2006, he started the Residency in Pediatrics at the University of Padua (Italy) and continued the program at Columbia University in 2010. After completing his Residency in 2012, he pursued a fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at same institution. During his Fellowship, he continued his research activities by joining the Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering under direction of Dr. Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, where he commenced a challenging research project in lung bioengineering and developed a methodology for removal of only injured epithelium in the lung (Science Advances, 2017). In 2015, he has been appointed Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (tenure track) at Columbia University, where he has continued to work in the Lung Research Program.