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Paola Vigano


Dr. Paola Vigano - Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan

Paola Vigano’ is the Coordinator of the Assisted Reproductive Technology Laboratory at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan. Her background is in cell biology with emphasis to the reproductive system cell biology. She obtained her biological degree at the University of Milan in 1989 and a post-graduate residency in Experimental Endocrinology at the School of Pharmacy of the same University in 2000. She obtained her Ph.D. in Prenatal Medicine at the University of Siena in 2003 and conducted postdoctoral fellowships at the Molecular Biology Laboratory of the Scientific Auxologic Institute in Milano and at the Department of Reproductive Medicine at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan.

Dr Vigano’ has published over 190 peer-reviewed papers, review articles and book chapters and has about 4000 citations. Her research activity has been particularly devoted to cellular mechanisms underlying endometrial pathophysiology with a scientific production in the field of endometriosis basic research that has been consistent for over 25 years, in strict collaboration with most of the leading experts in the field. She is presently recognized as the 4th world leader in endometriosis by Experscape ranking, Palo Alto.

For her scientific activity, she has received a journal prize from Fertility & Sterility and two awards from the Society for Gynecologic Investigation for co-authored contributions.

From 2006 to 2009 she has been Deputy Coordinator of ESHRE Special Interest Group in Endometrium and Endometriosis, from 2011 to 2014 Associated Editor of the Human Reproduction Update and is presently Associated Editor of Human Reproduction. She is member of Fetoscopy, of the Center for Research in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Milan and of the Endometriosis Treatment Italian Club.

Project: Exoxomes/microvesicles release as a non-invasive method to assess embryo activity

Assessment of embryos with optimum development potential is one of the major challenges in human IVF technology. Routinely, embryo selection for transfer in utero is mainly based on morphological and developmental characteristics but this assessment is hampered by the lack of suitable standards and by the inter- and intra-observer variability associated with a subjective grading system. Although over the past five years a number of systems have been introduced to fertility laboratories with the aim of identifying better quality embryos that would ultimately improve IVF success rates, there remains a need for improvements in the ability to predict noninvasively which blastocysts are destined to establish a successful pregnancy.

In the context of cellular communication, the recent literature has underlined the essential functions of the cell secreted membrane-derived vesicles, particularly exosomes (EXs) and microvesicles (MVs), that provide a new dimension for the concept of intercellular signaling. Nowadays, MVs attract great interest as their shedding is recognized as a widespread mode of intercellular communication in different body compartments. Indeed shed MVs, similarly to EXs, may serve as information packets to guide the phenotype of surrounding cells by transferring lipids, proteins, and genetic material from donor to target cells. Furthermore, shed MVs, being enriched in various bioactive molecules, play pleiotropic roles in many physiological processes. In reproduction, EXs and MVs have been suggested to participate in the maternal-fetal cross-talk during pregnancy as they are viewed as fetal messengers delivering signals and transferring packages of information for adaptation of the maternal organism to the ongoing pregnancy.

With the ambition to demonstrate that embryonic-derived EXs or MVs could become a useful marker for predicting embryo developmental potential, specific aims of the study are:

AIM 1: to isolate, characterize and estimate EXs/MVs present in conditioned culture media from human blastocysts;

AIM 2: to correlate the results obtained in relation to number/size with embryo morphological features and outcome parameters. A predictive model of clinical outcome will be developed based upon the EXs/MVs contents;

AIM 3: the molecular composition of EXs/MVs reflects the cell type from which they originate. Therefore, the EXs/MVs RNA content will be analyzed for the presence of pluripotency genes as biomarker of blastocyst developmental competence.