People #2

Dr. Ciro Chiappini

Principal Investigator

I am Senior Lecturer in Nanomaterials and Biointerfaces at King’s College London . My research combines nanotechnology, bioengineering and cell biology to develop nanomaterials for cell interrogation and manipulation. My research has been awarded over £2.5M in grants including the prestigious ERC Starting Grant. In 2021 I was recognised as emerging biomaterial scientist by the journal Biomaterial Sciences.  I was Marie Curie Fellow and Newton International Fellow at Imperial College London from 2011 until 2016, and I hold a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. I authored more than 40 publications with over 5000 citations and I hold two international patents.


Dr. Valeria Caprettini

ERC Postdoc

I joined the Chiappini Lab to exploit 3D nanotechnology for addressing cells behaviour and stem cell differentiation by engineering their environment. I did my PhD in Bioengineering and Robotics with focus in bio-nanotechnology at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) in Genoa, Italy. During the Phd I studied the interface between cultured cells and multifunctional three-dimensional nanostructured surfaces with several applications, such as opto- and electro-poration, drug delivery, recording of action potentials and spectroscopic analysis. I received my BSc in Physics and my MSc in Physics of the biosystems at Sapienza – University of Rome, Italy with the thesis “Synthesis and Characterization of Virus-Like Nanoparticles”.


Dr. Maria Grazia Barbato

Medcity Postdoc

I joined the Chiappini Lab in December 2020 as PostDoctoral Research Associate in collaboration with MicrofluidX to develop microfluidics-based platform for cell and gene therapy applications.  I did my PhD in Bioengineering and Robotics (Bionanotechnology curriculum) at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) in Genoa, Italy. During my Phd I worked on the development of vasculature-on-chip to study endothelial permeability against small molecules and nanoparticles. I received my BSc in Biotechnology and my MSc in Medical Biotechnology and Nanobiotechnology at University of Salento, Italy with an experimental thesis in Nanofabrication methods and nanoscale analysis for biotech entitled “New bio-composite: growth of nanostructured film-protein on graphene oxide”. 

Dr. Hongki Kim

KSF-ERC Visting Postdoc

I joined the Chiappini group as a Visiting Postdoctoral Research Associate in October 2020, and my current work is to develop CRISPR/Cas-based nanoneedle platform for intracellular sensing. I did my PhD from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), and worked on synthesizing noble metal nanowires using a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method and developing nanowire-based plasmonic sensors for detection of chemical and biological analytes. Post PhD, I have worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB). My work was focused on developing the CRISPR/Cas meditated diagnostic platform for detection of multidrug-resistant bacteria and influenza virus. Throughout these researches, I have published 9 first-author and 11 co-author papers.

Dr. Salman Mustfa

CureEB Postdoc

 I did my PhD from UNESCO-Regional Centre for Biotechnology, India and worked on investigating the role of PTM’s like SUMOylation in intestinal mucosal biology. My work was particularly focused on understanding the involvement of SUMO enzymes in controlling intestinal infections and inflammation associated disorders. I have gained extensive research experience in molecular biology, cellular biology, immunology and gene therapy.  I have published peer-reviewed research articles in Nanoscale, Royal Society of Open Biology and Molecular and Cellular Biology. Post PhD, I have worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Yale University, School of Medicine. My work was focused on investigating the role of autophagy in mucosal biology. At King’s College London, my work involves in-vitro characterisation and optimisation of nanoneedle mediated delivery of COL7A1 gene in skin fibroblasts, keratinocytes and organoids for treating recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB). Main aim of this project is to develop a rapid, minimally invasive and novel method for treating rare and non-curable disease like RDEB.

Dr. Cong Wang

ERC Postdoc

I joined the Chiappini Lab in June 2020 as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, my work is to develop new approaches to design nanomaterials for topical delivery of biologicals. I did my PhD in Northumbria University (UK) worked on developing elastic instabilities induced super-flexible sensors and advanced 3D morphing transducers. I am particularly focused on developing the control mechanisms of elastic instabilities and manufacturing the micro and nano soft devices, to exploit their applications in sensing and actuation systems. My PhD is in collaboration with Scottish Microelectronics Centre, University of Edinburgh, and Newcastle Bio-imaging centre. I have published seven first-authored papers and won an outstanding student paper award at the international flexible electronics technology conference during my PhD.

Mr. Davide Martella

PhD Student

I graduated in Physics at University of Milan. In Italy, I approached the study of self-assembled nanostructured surfaces as bioactive materials and for applications in the field of microelectronics. Currently, I am a PhD student in the Centre for Craniofacial and Regenerative Biology. My activity is focused on the synthesis of nanostructured materials, jointed to the use of spectroscopic methods, for the development of new non-invasive strategies of tissue analysis and imaging.

Ms. Mary Okesola

Rosetrees Trust PhD Student

I completed my BSc (Hons) Bioscience degree at University of Suffolk and went on to study the MSc Immunology at King’s College London. Following this, I remained at King’s as a Research Assistant in translational tumour immunology where I worked on a preclinical Cancer Research UK project to establish pharmacodynamic markers for the use of a novel small molecule inhibitor in combination with chemotherapy. I joined the Chiappini lab in October 2017 as a PhD student, my project aims to develop nanoscale approaches to regulate the phenotype of stem cells for the engineering of mini-livers.

Ms. Chantelle Spiteri

ERC PhD Student

I joined the Chiappini group as a Ph.D. student in October 2019. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc. Hons.) in biology and chemistry from the University of Malta and subsequently completed my master’s degree in Drug Discovery and Development at Imperial College London. I conducted my research project at the Francis Crick Institute, where I synthesised molecules that could serve as potential inhibitors for the cancer-related glycosyltransferases. Inspired by the work within the Chiappini group, my current project aims to explore nanoparticles for selective delivery of relatively large biomolecules (such as mRNA) into 3D tissue cultures.

Mr. Will Edwards

MRC iCase PhD Student

I graduated from the University of Surrey in 2019 with a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry. My research project focused on the potential for the production of a universal ‘off-the-shelf’ CAR T-cell therapy for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. As part of my undergraduate degree, I also spent an Erasmus year at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, where I worked with an animal model of Multiple Sclerosis. I then went on to study an MPhil in Translational Biomedical Research at the University of Cambridge, where I investigated the genetic basis of certain auto-inflammatory diseases. I joined the Chiappini Lab in September 2020 as a PhD student, with an ambition of developing a microfluidics-based platform for cell and gene therapy manufacturing applications, as part of a collaborative effort with MicrofluidX.

Mr. Chenlei Gu

K-CSC Scholarship PhD Student

I grew up in Hangzhou, China and received my BEng and MEng degree both in Biomedical Engineering from Northeastern University (2017) and Zhejiang University (2020), respectively. In these years, I had also been a guest student in the Institute of Biomedical and Health Engineering, SIAT (2015-2017) for bioimpedance research, and to map intracellular ions using genetically encoded molecular tools as a visiting student in the School of Life Sciences, Westlake University (2020-2021). I joined the Chiappini Lab in February 2021 to pursue a PhD under Dr Ciro Chiappini at King’s College London and Dr Michael Thomas at University College London. My research involves the optoporation and nanostructures design to study intracellular biological process at the molecular level, followed by leveraging the cell-nano spatial interaction for physiological disease research.