Elvira Forte, Ph.D.

Affiliated Scientist

Employs mouse genetic models to study the role of stromal cells in cardiac development and in scar formation in response to ischemic injury.

The ability to regenerate the heart is lost with evolution, with the transition to a closed high pressure circulatory system and a four-chambered heart made of highly specialized and differentiated contractile cells. In adult mammalians hearts, in response to an injury such as myocardial infarction, the necrotic tissue is replaced by a non-contractile fibrotic scar. The formation of a scar is a relatively more rapid repair mechanism which can prevent cardiac rupture, but an extensive scar and excessive fibrosis lead to adverse remodeling and chronic cardiac failure, one of the leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide.

We are interested in studying the mechanisms involved in scar formation, and the dynamic changes in cardiac interstitial populations in response to injury, in order to tune them for a better cardiac repair and remodeling. Cardiac fibroblasts play a crucial role in this process, thus we aim to identify tissue-specific properties of fibroblasts for organ-specific anti-fibrotic treatments.

Education and experience

Education and training

University of Rome “Sapienza”. Department of Molecular Medicine
PhD in Pasteurian Science
Experimental thesis: “Potential biological meaning and origin of cardiac progenitor cells isolated as Cardiospheres.”

University of Rome “Sapienza”. Department of Experimental Medicine.
Master degree cum laude in “Medical Molecular and Cellular Biotechnology”
Experimental thesis: “Origin of c-kit-positive cardiac stem cells: possible bone marrow contribution.”

University of Rome “Sapienza”. Department of Experimental Medicine
Bachelor degree cum laude in “Biotechnology”
Experimental thesis: “Cardiac stem cells isolation from mouse and human heart.”


Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney NSW Australia;
Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Department, Prof. R.P.Harvey’s lab.
Post-doctoral fellowship funded by Stem Cells Australia.
May 2013 – November 2016
Project: Lineage tracing of adult cardiac CFU-F to understand their role in physiological (aging) and pathological conditions (pressure overload, MI, ischemia/reperfusion).

Burnham Institute for Medical Research. Neuroscience, Aging and Stem Cell Research
Centre, La Jolla, CA
Visiting PhD student c/o Mark Mercola`s lab
Date: December 2007 - December 2009.
Project: Analysis of the origin of Cardiosphere-forming cells and of the potential mechanisms involved in their generation, using transgenic mice for in vitro cell tracking. Set up of a protocol to analyse the in vivo effects of small molecules on cardiac progenitor cells labelled in transgenic mouse models.

University of Milan, “Bicocca”. Department of Biotechnology and Biosciences.
Visiting student c/o Angelo Vescovi`s lab
Program study in hypoxia and cardiac stem cell