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Valentina Cecchinato


Dr. Cecchinato graduated in Medical Biotechnology and obtained her PhD in Molecular Medicine at the University of Milan (Milan, Italy). She has been working on HIV-infection pathogenesis since 2006, when she joined the group of Dr. Genoveffa Franchini at the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, MD, USA). There, she contributed to several publications, which revealed how immune activation drives viral replication and described the preferential loss of Th17 cells in the gut mucosa of SIV-infected rhesus macaques. In 2008, she joined the group of Prof. Mariagrazia Uguccioni at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), which is dedicated to the study of the activity of chemokines in homeostasis and disease. She demonstrated, in collaboration with the Swiss HIV Cohort Study, that persistent immune activation in ART-treated patients impairs lymphocyte responses to chemotactic stimuli, thus preventing their trafficking from the bloodstream into peripheral organs. The study allowed the identification of mechanisms responsible for the poor CD4+ T cell repopulation of the gut, which is observed in HIV-1-infected individuals receiving clinically effective antiretroviral therapy. More recently, she discovered, for the first time, the existence of specific patterns of autoantibodies targeting chemokines in COVID-19 convalescents that are associated with milder disease, reduced risk of hospitalization and predictive of the lack of protracted symptoms (long COVID). Since March 2023, she is Research Associate at the IRB, and focuses her research on the mechanisms governing inflammation and its dysregulation in infectious diseases, with particular emphasis on HIV-1 disease progression.