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Biological and Soft Systems

Biophysics, Malaria, Live cell imaging, Microfluidics, Red blood cells

I study malaria parasite invasion of red blood cells and cytoadhesion of infected cells to the host vasculature using real-time microscopy, microfluidics, and biophysical analysis techniques.


I am a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at EMBL Barcelona in Maria Bernabeu's group and working on the blood-brain barrier. Previously I was a Wellcome Trust Junior Posdoc Fellow in Julian Rayner’s group at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research. I completed my PhD in Physics at the Cavendish Laboratory under the supervision of Prof Pietro Cicuta. My research focusses on the study of the malaria disease though live microscopy, microfluidics, and biophysics, particularly the mechanism by which malaria parasites invade human red blood cells and the cytoadhesion of infected cells to the human vasculature. I graduated at the University of Pavia, Italy, obtaining the Bachelor and Master’s degree in Physics, with a focus on photonics and nonlinear optics.

I nurture multiple interests spanning from walking (Camino de Santiago, UK National Three Peaks Challenge, and Camí de Cavalls) to crafts and music such as making my own violin!


Key publications: 

(* equal contribution)

  1. V. Introini, M. Govendir, J.C. Rayner, P. Cicuta, M. Bernabeu. Biophysical tools and concepts enable understanding of asexual blood stage malaria. Accepted in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology Parasite and Host 2022

  2. B. Vodenicharski, S. McDermott, K.M. Webber, V. Introini, R. Bowman, P. Cicuta, I.J.A. Simpson, N.D.F. Campbell. Cell anomaly localisation using structured uncertainty prediction networks. Accepted MIDL 2022 Conference.

  3. V. Introini, A. Marin-Menendez, G. Nettesheim, Y.-C. Lin, S. N. Kariuki, A.L. Smith, L. Jean, J. N. Brewin, D.C. Rees, P. Cicuta, J.C. Rayner, B.S. Penman. The erythrocyte membrane properties of beta thalassaemia heterozygotes and their consequences for Plasmodium falciparum invasion. BioRxiv 2022.

  4. V. Introini, G. Rao Kidiyoor, G. Porcella, M. Foiani, P. Cicuta, M. Cosentino Lagomarsino. Centripetal nuclear shape fluctuations associate with chromatin condensation towards mitosis. BioRxiv 2021.

  5. S.N. Kariuki*, A. Marin-Menendez*, V. Introini*, B.J. Ravenhill, Y.-C. Lin, A. Macharia, J. Makale, M. Tendwa, W. Nyamu, J. Kotar, M. Carrasquilla, J.A. Rowe, K. Rockett, D. Kwiatkowski, M.P. Weekes, P. Cicuta, T.N. Williams, J.C. Rayner. Red blood cell tension protects against severe malaria in the Dantu blood group, Nature 585, 579-583, 2020. (Preprint bioRxiv, 2018).

  6. H. Davies*, H. Belda*, M. Broncel, X. Ye, C. Bisson, V. Introini, D. Dorin-Semblat, J.-P. Semblat, M. Tiburcio, B. Gamain, M. Kaforou, M. Treeck. An exported kinase family mediates species-specific erythrocyte remodelling and virulence in human malaria, Nature Microbiology 5(6):848-863, 2020.

  7. V. Introini, M.J. Steel, J.E. Sipe, L.G. Helt, M. Liscidini. Spontaneous parametric down conversion in a doubly resonant one-dimensional photonic crystal, Optics Letters 45(5):1244-1247, 2020.

  8. V. Introini*, A. Carciati*, G. Tomaiuolo, P. Cicuta, S. Guido. Endothelial glycocalyx regulates cytoadherence in Plasmodium falciparum malaria, Journal of the Royal Society Interface 15: 20180773, 2018.

  9. V. Introini, A.J. Crick, T. Tiffert, J. Kotar, Y.-C. Lin, P. Cicuta, V.L. Lew. Evidence against a role of elevated intracellular Ca2+ during Plasmodium falciparum preinvasion, Biophysical Journal 114(7):1695- 1706, 2018.



Other publications: 

Conference proceedings

  1. J. Ehlert, A. Alder, V. Introini, J. Weder, P. Cicuta, T.W. Gilberger, M. Preller. Novel antimalarial inhibitors that specifically target the invasion motor protein myosin A in malaria parasites, Proceedings 22(1):9, 2019.

  2. V. Introini, A.J. Crick, T. Tiffert, J. Kotar, Y.-C. Lin, P. Cicuta, V.L. Lew, No role for elevated intracellular calcium during malaria invasion. Biophysical Society Annual Meeting, 2018.

  3. L. G. Helt, A. Branczyk, V. Introini, M. Liscidini, M.J. Steel. Bragg gratings will improve signal-to-noise in χ(3) degenerate photon-pair generation. Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics, 2016.

Teaching and Supervisions


2017-2018 University of Cambridge: Demonstrator
200 hours as practical demonstrator for first-year (Part IA) undergraduates in Physics. 

2014-2015 University of Pavia: Laboratory Demonstrator
Oversaw first-year Medical School undergraduate students in Physics practicals.

2014-2015 University of Pavia: Supervisor
50 hour-supervision (small group teaching) in mathematics, a course designed for Nursing and Healthcare first-year students.

Other Professional Activities

Consulting projects – Developed business strategy for Cambridge Consulting Network and i-Teams 2017.

Organisation of the Cavendish Graduate Student Conference in 2017 for 180 students, including an external keynote speaker.

January 2020 - March 2022 Now at EMBL Barcelona
Wellcome Trust Junior Interdisciplinary Fellow
Supervisors: Julian C. Rayner and Pietro Cicuta
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January 2016-December 2019
PhD student
Supervisor: Pietro Cicuta
Dr Viola  Introini
Available for consultancy


Person keywords: 
Biological fluid mechanics
Live microscopy