Individual projects

Research project

DC13 The fetal liver niche role in hematopoietic development and childhood leukemia


The liver is the main residence for blood forming cells in utero, before they move to the bone marrow, and it is also the environment where many infant and childhood leukemia initially develop. The Live-N-ChilL project aims to define the role of the fetal liver cellular and environmental components during embryonic and fetal development in the establishment of the blood and immune system, the support provided to developing blood stem cells and in the context of leukemia.

Keywords: Hematopoietic Stem Cells, Gene Regulation, Functional Maturation, Fetal Liver, Pediatric Leukemia 

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The goal of Live-N-ChilL is to deciphering the human fetal niche at both molecular and cell-interaction level, which will be crucial to understand the origin of infant leukemia but will also be instrumental for improving HSC in vitro expansion both from primary tissue (patients derived) and iPSC-derived HSC. The Live-N-ChilL project involves work with human normal and disease tissue, usage of mouse models for human xenografts and iPSC differentiation protocols as well as state-of-the-art omics analysis at bulk and single cell level. Successful completion of the project has therefore the potential to impact the future diagnostic and therapeutic procedure of children suffering from Leukemic disorders, and to turn the cell and gene therapy promise into clinical reality for patients with genetic diseases affecting hematopoietic cells.

During the PhD, the doctoral candidate will be trained and supervised to mature as an independent scientist and experience several international research environments. Working with human tissue, mouse models, omics techniques, leukemia models and iPSC differentiation, the DC will gain an independent scientific thinking in range of fields spacing from stem cell research to oncology to bioinformatic analysis, crucial for wide future perspective both in academic and industry career.


Should you have more questions about the doctoral project DC13, please contact Vincenzo Calvanese,

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Barts Cancer Institute, QMUL (London, the UK) secondment 1; King’s College and The Roger Williams Institute of Hepatology, (London, the UK).