Giulio Cossu RicercatoreMedicina

Research Activity

Curriculum Vitae


Research Activity

My laboratory has a long-lasting interest and more than 40 years of research experience in the field of muscle biology and muscular dystrophy. We identified signals that activate myogenesis in the embryo,  discovered the myogenic potential of bone-marrow derived, circulating progenitor cells, identified of a novel population of vessel associated progenitor cells that we termed mesoangioblasts, later characterized as a subset of muscle pericytes. We tested the therapeutic potential of mesoangioblasts in mouse and dog models of muscular dystrophy and completed a phase I/II clinical trial in five Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients who received escalating doses of HLA-matched, donor derived mesoangioblasts. We are currently optimising the transplantation protocol and have started a new trial with autologous, genetically corrected cells. The juxtaposition of developmental biology with stem cell clinical work characterizes our work in the field of molecular medicine.

Curriculum Vitae

Current Positions:

2013- : Constance Thornley Professor of Regenerative Medicine, University of Manchester

2019-2022: BIH Visiting Professor, Charité Medical Faculty, Max Delbrück Centre, Berlin  

2021-2026: Head of Unit, Institute of Experimental Neurology, San Raffaele Hospital, Milan  

Previous appointments:

2012-2013: Professor of Human Stem Cell Biology, University College London

2008-2011: Director, Division of Regenerative Medicine, San Raffaele Institute, Milan

2005-2011: Professor of Histology and Embryology, University of Milan

2000-2008: Director of the “Stem Cell Research Institute”, San Raffaele, Milan.

2003-2006: Scientific Director of the San Raffaele Biomedical Science Park of Rome.

1994-2005: Professor of Histology and Medical Embryology, II° Medical School, University of Rome "La Sapienza"

1993-1994: Visiting Professor. Dept. of Molecular Biology, Istitut Pasteur, Paris

1986-1993: Associate Professor, Dept. of Histology and Medical Embryology, University of Rome "La Sapienza"

1983-1986: Researcher, Institute Histology, University of Rome "La Sapienza"


Post-doctoral training:

1980-1983: USPHS Fogarty Fellow, Wistar Institute, University of Pennsylvania

1978-1980: CNR Fellow, Institute Histology, University of Rome "La Sapienza"

Areas of interest:

Developmental biology of striated muscle; Gene and cell therapy, stem cells, regenerative medicine. 

Scientific Societies and Committees:

2022-2024:   Member, Panel LS7, European Research Council

2019-: Member of the Advisory Council of the Italian Ministry of Health.

2017-: Member (Italian) of the Inter-Academy Partnership.

2016-: Member, Scientific Advisory Board of the Dept. of Biomedicine, Basel University. 

2016-2020:   Member, Scientific Advisory Board of the Italian National Research Council.

2013: Fellow of the Accademia dei Lincei

2013: Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences

2011: Member of the European Academy of Sciences       

2013-2017:   Reviewing Editor, e-Life.

2011-2014:   Member, Committee for Advanced Therapy (CAT), European Medicinal Agency

2008-2014:   Chair and Member, Panel LS7, European Research Council

2008-2011:   Directory Board, International Society of Differentiation.

2008-:  Senior Editor, EMBO Molecular Medicine

2008:  ISSCR Task Force for “Clinical Translation of Stem Cell Research”

2006-2013:   Associate Editor, International Journal of Developmental Biology

2004-2014:   Editorial Board, Cell Death & Differentiation

2004-:  Editorial Board, Journal of Cell Science

2003-2011:   Member, TIGEM External Scientific Advisory Board.

2002-2005:   Directory Board of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

2003-2006:   Chairperson, Stem Cell Committee, European Society of Gene Therapy

1998-2001:   President, ABCD (Italian Society for Cell Biology and Differentiation) 

1998-2001:   Secretary, FISV (Italian Federation of Life Sciences)

1997-:  EMBO Member


Clinical activity:                                                                                                                                                                            

2017-2019:         PI of a “first in man” Phase I/IIa of autologous, genetically corrected stem cell transplantation in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

2011-2014:    PI of a “first in man” Phase I/IIa of donor, HLA-matched stem cell transplantation in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

2009-2011:         PI of an observational study on motility in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy ambulant patients.

Teaching activities:


1992 -:           Developmental Biology; Differentiation and Cell Therapy; Bioethics; Cellular and Molecular Pathology; Stem Cells; Histology and Embryology; Post-graduate Medical Schools in Cardiology, Neurology, Obstetrics and Gynecology


Seminars and Meetings:

- EMBO Conference: Cell therapy today: achievements, hopes and hypes, Manchester Sept. 9-13, 2015. Organizer.

- EMBO Workshop on “Advances in Stem Cell Research”, Paris April 6-8, 2011, Co-organizer.

- Gordon Research Conference “Myogenesis”, Il Ciocco, Lucca, May 2004. Chairperson.

- Gordon Research Conference on “Myogenesis”, Il Ciocco, Lucca, May 2001. Vice-Chairperson.

- EMBO Workshop on “Molecular Biology and Pathology of myogenesis”, Baia di Conte, September 1992, Organizer.

- Speaker and/or Chairperson in most major meetings in the field of Stem Cell and Myogenesis. Seminars held in many Italian, European and North American Institutions. 


Prizes and Awards:

- Galileo Prize for excellence in scientific research, City of Padua 2003.

- Stella d’oro per la Medicina, Rome 2005.

- Prize for excellence in Research, Medical Academy of Turin, 2007.

- Jean Brachet Memorial Lecture (ISD) Keystone Symposium “Stem Cells Cancer and Ageing”, Singapore 28.09.2008.

- Feltrinelli prize (Accademia dei Lincei) for science, 2011

-Galileo Prize for scientific dissemination with the book “The frame of life” 2020.



Success in securing funds for research is demonstrated by more than 10 EC networks, three of which as Coordinator and many other competitive international grants such as for example the ERC Advanced Investigator Grants (2008 and 2019). Overall, GC has secured more than 20 M€ for his research in the last decade. A partial list of grants is pasted below:

Wellcome Trust Heath Innovation Challenge Fund, 2015; British Heart Foundation 2014; Medical Research Council 2012, 2016, 2019; UMIP 2018; European Research Council 2008, 2019; European Community: 1992, 1993, 1995 (coordinator) 1998, 1999 (coordinator), 2003, 2005, 2005, 2006, 2008 (coordinator), 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2019; Muscular Dystrophy Association (USA): 2004; Association Francoise contra les myopathies: 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009; Cure Duchenne: 2007; Duchenne Parent Project: 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2016, 2019; Telethon (Italy):1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011; Italian Ministry of Research:1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009; Italian Ministry of Health: 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009.



1 - Cossu, G, Dejana, E “Method to induce the differentiation of endothelial cells to cardiomyocites” WO03023022  - Science Park RAF spa, Priority Date 11/09/2001; 2 - Cossu, G, Cusella-De Angelis, MG “Method for establishing and expanding multipotent stem cells” WO03095631 - Fondazione Centro San Raffaele del Monte Tabor, Priority Date 13/05/2002; 3 - Clementi, E, Cossu, G, Brunelli, S, Ongini, E “Use of nitrooxyderivative of drug for the treatment of muscular dystrophies “ WO2007088123-  Nicox s.a. 2007; 4 - Clementi, E, Cossu, G, Brunelli, S “Method of treatment for muscular dystrophy WO2007088050 -  Fondazione Centro San Raffaele del Monte Tabor. Priority Date 03/02/2006; 5 - Cossu, G,  Gonzalez Galvez, B, Tonlorenzi, R “Skeletal muscle periangioblasts and cardiac mesangioblasts, method for isolation and uses thereof” WO2007093412 -  Fondazione Centro San Raffaele del Monte Tabor. Priority Date 16/02/2006.


Training and Mentoring

More than 60 undergraduate, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows have been trained since 1982. Many of these are now Professors or Researchers in various European Universities (e.g. University College London, Catholic University of Leuven, Trinity College in Dublin, Pavia, Rome, Milan and Research centers, eg. Istitut Pasteur, Istitut Monod, Istituto Superiore di Sanità etc.)



(10 recent out of 250)

1: Cossu G, Fears G, Griffin G, ter Meulen V. 2020. Regenerative Medicine : a long and winding road. The Lancet. 395:1746-1747.

2: Camps J, Sifrim A, Corvelyn M, Grosemans H,  Vanuytven S,   Gijsbers R,  Cossu G,   Torrente Y,  Voet T,   Sampaolesi M. 2020. Depletion of an interstitial cell population promotes aberrant adipogenesis in dystrophic muscles. Cell Reports. 31:107597.

3: Arno B, Galli F, Roostalu U, Aldeiri BM, Miyake T, Albertini A, Bragg L, Prehar S, McDermott J, Cartwright E, Cossu G. 2019. TNAP limits TGF-β-dependent cardiac and skeletal muscle fibrosis by inactivating SMAD2/3 transcription factors. J. Cell Science 132, 234948.

4: De Luca M, Aiuti A, Cossu G, Palmer M, Pellegrini G, Robey P. 2019. Stem cells find they way to clinics. Nature Cell Biol. 21:801-811.

5: Urbani L,  Camilli C, Phylactopoulos DE, Crowley C, Natarajan D, Scottoni F,   Maghsoudlou P,   McCann CJ, Pellegata AF, Urciuolo A, Deguchi K, Khalaf S, Aruta S, Signorelli MC, Kiely D, Hannon E, Trevisan M, Wong RR, Baradez MO,  Moulding D, Virasami A, Gjinovci A, Loukogeorgakis S,  Mantero S, Thapar N, Sebire N, Eaton S, Lowdell M,   Cossu G, Bonfanti P, De Coppi P. 2018. Multi-stage bioengineering of a layered oesophagus with in vitro expanded muscle and epithelial adult progenitors. Nature Comm. 9:4286.

6: Roostalu U, Aldeiri B, Albertini A, Humphreys N, Simonsen-Jackson M, Wong JKF and Cossu G. 2018. Distinct cellular mechanisms underlie smooth muscle turnover in vascular development and repair. Circulation Res. 122:267-281.

7: Cossu G, Birchall M, Brown T, De Coppi P, Culme-Seymour E, Gibbon S, Hitchcock J, Mason C,  Montgomery J,   Morris S, Muntoni F, Napier D, Nazanin O, Prasad A,   Round J, Saprai P, Stilgoe J, Thrasher A, Wilson J. 2018. Lancet Commission: Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine. The Lancet 391:883-910.

8: Aldeiri B, Roostalu U, Albertini A, Wong J, Morabito A, Cossu G. 2017. Transgelin expressing myofibroblasts orchestrate ventral midline closure through TGF-β signalling. Development 144:3336-3348.

9: Rossi G, Antonini S, Bonfanti C, Monteverde S, Tajbakhsh S, Cossu G, Messina G. 2016. Nfix regulates temporal progression of muscle regeneration through modulation of Myostatin expression. Cell Reports 14, 2338-49.

10: Cossu G, Previtali SC, Napolitano S, Cicalese MP, Tedesco FS, Nicastro F, Noviello M, Roostalu U, Natali Sora MG, Scarlato M, De Pellegrin M, Godi C,  Giuliani S,   Ciotti F,  Tonlorenzi R,  Lorenzetti I,   Rivellini C,   Benedetti S,  Gatti R,  Marktel S,  Mazzi B,  Tettamanti A,   Ragazzi M,   Imro MA,   Marano G,   Ambrosi A, Fiori R,   Sormani MP,  Bonini C,  Venturini M,   Politi LS,   Torrente Y,  Ciceri, F. 2015. Intra-arterial transplantation of HLA-matched donor mesoangioblasts in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. EMBO Mol. Med. 7,1513-28.


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