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Dr Franco Conforti


Senior Research Fellow

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Dr Conforti accomplished his PhD in Molecular Medicine in 2011 in Italy and in 2013, he started a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Southampton working on lung fibrosis. 

In 2015, he was conferred a Medical Research Foundation Award to investigate the role of cellular interactions in lung fibrosis and later contributed to support his emergency research on SARS-CoV2 during the COVID19 pandemic. In 2021, he has been promoted to Senior Research Fellow. His current research focuses on the investigation of cell signalling in the lung and its involvement in fibrosis, SARS-CoV2 infection and tissue regeneration.

Landmark publications:

1. Yao, L., Zhou, Y., Li, J., Wickens, L., Conforti, F., Rattu, A., Ibrahim, F. M., Alzetani, A., Marshall, B., Fletcher, S.   V., Hancock, D., Wallis, T., Downward, J., Ewing, R., Richeldi, L., Skipp,   P., Davies, D., Jones, M., & Wang, Y.. “Bi-directional epithelial-mesenchymal   crosstalk provides self-sustaining pro-fibrotic signals in pulmonary fibrosis”.   Journal of Biological   Chemistry 2021 September.

2. Cornelia Blume, Claire L. Jackson, Cosma Mirella Spalluto, Jelmer   Legebeke, Liliya Nazlamova, Franco Conforti, Jeanne-Marie   Perotin, Martin Frank, John Butler, Max Crispin, Janice Coles, James   Thompson, Robert A. Ridley, Lareb S. N. Dean, Matthew Loxham, Stephanie   Reikine, Adnan Azim, Kamran Tariq, David A. Johnston, Paul J. Skipp, Ratko   Djukanovic, Diana Baralle, Christopher J. McCormick, Donna E. Davies, Jane S.   Lucas, Gabrielle Wheway and Vito Mennella. “A novel ACE2 isoform is expressed   in human respiratory epithelia and is upregulated in response to interferons   and RNA respiratory virus infection”. Nature Genetics 2021 Febbruary.

3. Franco Conforti, Robert Ridley, Christopher Brereton, Aiman Alzetani, Benjamin Johnson,   Ben G. Marshall, Sophie V. Fletcher, Christian H. Ottensmeier, Luca Richeldi,   Paul Skipp, Yihua Wang, Mark G. Jones & Donna E. Davies. “Paracrine SPARC   signaling dysregulates alveolar epithelial barrier integrity and function in   lung fibrosis”. Cell Death Discovery 2020 Jun.

4. Charlotte   Hill, Juanjuan Li, Dian Liu, Franco Conforti,   Christopher J. Brereton, Liudi Yao, Yilu Zhou, Aiman Alzetani, Serena J.   Chee, Ben G. Marshall, Sophie V. Fletcher, David Hancock, Christian H.   Ottensmeier, Andrew J. Steele, Julian Downward, Luca Richeldi, Xin Lu, Donna   E. Davies, Mark G. Jones & Yihua Wang. “Autophagy inhibition-mediated   epithelial–mesenchymal transition augments local myofibroblast   differentiation in pulmonary fibrosis.” Cell Death & Disease 2019   August.

5. Salvatore   Montesanto, Natalie P. Smithers, Fabio Bucchieri, Valerio Brucato, Vincenzo   La Carrubba, Donna E. Davies, Franco Conforti.   “Establishment of a pulmonary epithelial barrier on biodegradable   poly-L-lactic-acid membranes”. PLOS ONE 2019 January.

6. Liudi Yao, Franco Conforti,   Charlotte Hill, Joseph Bell, Leena Drawater, Juanjuan Li, Dian Liu, Hua   Xiong, Aiman Alzetani, Serena J. Chee, Ben G. Marshall, Sophie V. Fletcher,   David Hancock, Mark Coldwell, Xianglin Yuan, Christian H. Ottensmeier, Julian   Downward, Jane E. Collins, Rob M. Ewing, Luca Richeldi, Paul Skipp, Mark G.   Jones, Donna E. Davies and Yihua Wang. “Paracrine signalling during ZEB1-mediated epithelial mesenchymal   transition augments local myofibroblast differentiation in lung fibrosis”. Cell   Death & Disease 2018 July.

7. Qing Zhou, Sahar Eldakhakhny, Franco   Conforti, Emma J. Crosbie, Gerry Melino and Berna S. Sayan. “Pir2/Rnf144b is a potential endometrial   cancer biomarker that promotes cell proliferation”. Cell Death & Disease  2018 May.

8. Franco Conforti, Elizabeth   R. Davies, Claire J. Calderwood, Thomas H. Thatcher, Mark G. Jones, David E.   Smart, Sumeet Mahajan, Aiman Alzetani, Tom Havelock, Toby M. Maher, Philip L.   Molyneaux, Andrew J. Thorley, Teresa D. Tetley, Jane A.Warner, Graham   Packham, A. Ganesan, Paul J. Skipp, Benjamin J. Marshall, Luca Richeldi,   Patricia J. Sime, Katherine M.A. O’Reilly and Donna E. Davies. “The histone   deacetylase inhibitor, romidepsin, as a potential treatment for pulmonary   fibrosis”. Oncotarget 2017 July; 25;8(30):48737-48754.

9. Conforti F, Yang AL, Piro M, Mellone M, Terrinoni A, Candi E, Tucci P, Thomas GJ, Knight RA, Melino G, Sayan BS. “PIR2/Rnf144B regulates epithelial homeostasis by controlling p21WAF1 and   p63 stability”. Oncogene 2013   Oct;32(40):4758-65.

10. Conforti F, Yang AL, Agostini M, Rufini A, Tucci P, Nicklison-Chirou MV,   Grespi F, Velletri T, Knight RA, Melino G and Sayan BS. “Relative   expression of TAp73 and ΔNp73   isoforms”. Aging. 2012 Mar; 4(3):202-5.

Major grants:

Medical Research Foundation Award: Inflammatory, interstitial and fibrotic lung diseases: funding opportunity for mid-career researchers (2015).

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