Roberto Rusconi


    Blanco-Míguez A, Carloni S, Cardenas C, Dioguardi CC, Lambroia L, Capretti G, Nappo G, Fugazza A, Capogreco A, Armanini F, Asnicar F, Dubois L, Golzato D, Manghi P, Pinto F, Scuderi C, Casari E, Montorsi M, Anderloni A, Rescigno M, Repici A, Zerbi A, Peano C, Tamburini S, Rusconi R*, Segata N*. Microbial composition associated with biliary stents in patients undergoing pancreatic resection for cancer. npj Biofilms and Microbiomes 10:35 (2024).

    Vinci V, Belgiovine C, Janszen G, Agnelli B, Pellegrino L, Calcaterra F, Cancellara A, Ciceri R, Benedetti A, Cardenas C, Colombo F, Supino D, Lozito A, Caimi E, Monari M, Klinger FM, Riccipetitoni G, Raffaele A, Comoli P, Allavena P, Mavilio D, Di Landro L, Klinger M, Rusconi R. Breast implant surface topography triggers a chronic-like inflammatory response. Life Science Alliance 7:e202302132 (2024).

    Secchi E, Savorana G, Vitale A, Eberl L, Stocker R, Rusconi R. The structural role of bacterial eDNA in the formation of biofilm streamers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 119:e2113723119 (2022).

    Secchi E, Vitale A, Miño GL, Kantsler V, Eberl L, Rusconi R*, Stocker R*. The effect of flow on swimming bacteria controls the initial colonization of curved surfaces. Nature Communications 11:2851 (2020).


    2024 Armenise Harvard INF-ACT Mid-Career Award in Unmet Needs in Emerging Infectious Diseases

    2007–2008 Fondazione Angelo Della Riccia Fellowship

    2006 Fondazione Roberto Rocca Fellowship

    2004–2006 Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research Scholarship

    2002 SUCCESS Student Contest (2nd Prize): A competition organized by the European Space Agency for European university students from all disciplines to propose an experiment that could fly on board the International Space Station.

    Station. The prize was won with the project: Thermal Lens Measurement of the Soret Effect.

AH-INF MCA Project Title

“The Matrix of Resistance: Unveiling the Mechanisms of Extracellular DNA-Mediated Antimicrobial Protection in Biofilms”, 2024

Who he is

Roberto Rusconi holds a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering and a Doctorate in Radiation Science and Technology from the Polytechnic University of Milan. During his graduate studies, he specialized in investigating out-of-equilibrium phenomena in colloidal suspensions. In 2006, he was honored with a Roberto Rocca doctoral fellowship, which facilitated a six-month research period as a visiting student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he examined the thermal properties of metal nanoparticle dispersions, commonly referred to as “nanofluids”.

Following his doctoral studies, from 2007 to 2010, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University, followed by a postdoctoral appointment from 2010 to 2015 in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT. Subsequently, he assumed the role of Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering at ETH Zurich.

Since 2017, Roberto has been leading the Applied Physics, Biophysics, and Microfluidics Lab at the Humanitas Research Hospital, concurrently serving as an Associate Professor of Applied Physics at Humanitas University.

What he does

Biofilms are bacterial communities embedded in a protective matrix of self-secreted extracellular substances. Biofilms are involved in many aspects of human life, representing both beneficial and detrimental effects, and even contribute to the pathogenesis of persistent and chronic infections. In fact, hidden within the biofilm, bacteria become more resistant to therapies and to host defense mechanisms. Understanding biofilm formation and dynamics in different contexts could help us to fight multi-resistant bacteria, considered one of the global health threats to humanity’s future. Roberto Rusconi’s team utilizes microfluidics and mathematical modeling to understand how bacterial attachment to surfaces and the subsequent biofilm growth are influenced by the surrounding environment.

Moreover, Rusconi’s research extends to the realm of device-associated infections, where biofilms pose significant challenges. By studying the microbiota compositions associated with medical devices and investigating the impact of mechanical forces, his team aims to mitigate the risks posed by biofilm-related infections, particularly concerning implanted medical devices. Through collaboration with clinicians at Humanitas Research Hospital, they work towards innovative strategies to address these challenges, ultimately aiming to improve patient outcomes and quality of life.

In addition to his work on biofilms, Rusconi pioneers the development of microfluidic platforms for biomimicry. These advanced systems replicate biological processes, providing invaluable insights into drug diffusion dynamics and nanoparticle transport within biological systems. Overall, Rusconi’s multifaceted research approach spans biomechanical aspects of biological systems, ultimately contributing to advancements in healthcare and biomedical research.

News from the Lab

Recent findings from Rusconi’s lab have shed light on the significant influence of surface topography on patients’ immune responses to breast implants. While these implants are commonly used for both reconstructive and aesthetic purposes, concerns have arisen regarding the safety of textured implants due to potential associations with conditions like anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) and breast cancer recurrence.

Through analysis of periprosthetic fluids from patients with different surface textures alongside cell culture experiments on surface replicas, Rusconi’s team and collaborators found that macrotextured surfaces trigger a heightened activation of leucocytes, marked by increased inflammatory cytokine production, compared to microtextured surfaces. Furthermore, fluorescence microscopy revealed the accumulation of lymphocytes within the cavities of macrotextured surfaces, suggesting their entrapment as a potential trigger for activation.

These findings underscore the pivotal role of surface topography in creating a proinflammatory environment, potentially linking it to the development of lymphomas associated with various implantable devices. Such revelations not only deepen our understanding of immune responses to biomaterials but also hold implications for improving the safety and efficacy of medical implants.