DISSection is an innovative Doctoral programme that trains 4 young scientists in the areas of Infection and Immunity. The scope of the Project is to develop human skin models.


The models will be used and optimized to achieve following main objectives: better understanding of human-specific pathogenesis of S. aureus as well as protective mechanisms against the pathogen; identification of the first immune-competent human skin models for vaccine research; delivery of alternative methods to animal models.

This represents a good opportunity for students who are willing to grow both in basic science as well as in innovative and applicative experimental research.

Specifically, students will be involved in one of two work packages aimed at:

1) Exploiting skin equivalent models as well as human skin explants to achieve the following major objectives:

  • determine the role of toxins and virulence factors in invasive processes of the skin;
  • study the role of immune-evasion factors in bypassing responses of immune-competent skin equivalents;
  • characterize S. aureus infection in human skin;
  • study the role of neutrophils and macrophages, as well as their cooperation against S. aureus.

2) Exploiting skin equivalent models to achieve the following major objectives:

  • establish the first human skin equivalent for vaccine research;
  • measure expression of virulence factors and vaccine antigens in bacteria interacting with skin cells;
  • assess the response of skin cells to infection in terms of cytokine expression;
  • dissect protective mechanisms associated with antibodies, complement factors and professional phagocytes against S. aureus skin pathogenesis;
  • improve S. aureus vaccine targets by structural modelling;
  • broaden application of the skin model for characterizing skin delivery systems.


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