What do we know about Joseph Italiano, PhD?

Joseph Italiano

Joseph Italiano is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Hematology Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA.  He is also a member of the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

The lab’s research focuses on how blood platelets, which function as the bandaids of the bloodstream, are produced from megakaryocyte precursor cells. Megakaryocytes are terminally differentiated cells that in their final hours convert into long, branched proplatelets. We have demonstrated that platelet formation follows a defined set of morphogenetic shape changes driven by forces derived from both microtubules and actin filaments. The overall goal of our research is to elucidate the cytoskeletal mechanics and signaling pathways that culminate in the formation of platelets.

Specifically, the lab uses mouse megakaryocyte and human culture systems to study platelet production in vitro. Our primary methods include fluorescence microscopy, molecular biology, biochemistry, electron microscopy, bioengineering, and knockout mice. Where possible, we attempt to study the dynamics of proteins in living megakaryocytes or reconstitute cellular process with cell extracts. Current focuses include understanding the molecular signals that trigger platelet production, using biologically inspired engineering to establish how the bone marrow microenvironment influences platelet production, and determining how new alpha-granule biology contributes to the regulation of angiogenesis.  The development of a microfluidic-based bioreactor to produce in vitro platelets is also a major initiative.