Dr. Ambra Villani

Ambra Villani

Research Associate

Ambra Villani

Office Y13-K-36

Phone (office): +41 44 635 31 88

Phone (lab): +41 44 635 44 39


Ambra was born in Milan, Italy. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biotechnology in Medicine from the University of Milano-Bicocca (Milan, Italy). During her Bachelor, she worked at the Istituto Auxologico Italiano (Milan, Italy) on Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) in the Molecular Biology Laboratory headed by Anna Maria Di Blasio. She completed her Master’s thesis at Yale University (New Haven, CT – USA) in the Laboratory of Mario Strazzabosco. Here, she studied how CFTR controls biliary epithelial inflammation and permeability by regulating Src tyrosine kinase activity. After graduating as a Postgraduate Associate she studied the molecular mechanisms of the pathogenesis of different genetic cholangiopaties. In 2015, she started her PhD at EMBL (Heidelberg, Germany) in Francesca Peri’s group, Developmental Biology Unit. Here, she analysed the clearance of apoptotic neurons by microglia in the developing Zebrafish brain. This allowed her to uncover the existence of the gastrosome, a new compartment in the phagocytic pathway.

In December 2018, she started her Post doc at UZH - DMLS (Zürich, Switzerland) in the Peri group, to continue studying the microglial response to neuronal cell death and injury. Using a combination of CRISPR-Cas9 technology, in vivo laser ablation and live imaging she aims to describe the role of purinergic signaling in mediating neuronal-microglial interactions.

As a side project, in 2020 Ambra became part of the Facts&Reasons team: a platform where researchers take care of reviewing the literature and explaining the truth behind the media headlines about scientific topics. For more info visit https://www.factsandreasons.com/en/home-page/

In her free time, she enjoys cooking, hanging out with friends and travelling.


  • Villani A, Benjaminsen J, Moritz C, Henke K, Hartmann J, Norlin N, Richter K, Schieber NL, Franke T, Schwab Y, Peri F. (2019) Clearance by Microglia Depends on Packaging of Phagosomes into a Unique Cellular Compartment. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2019.02.014  PubMed
  • Villani A, Peri F. (2018) Microglia: Picky Brain Eaters. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2018.12.013 PubMed
  • Spirli C, Mariotti V, Villani A, Fabris L, Fiorotto R, Strazzabosco M. (2017) Adenylyl cyclase 5 links changes in calcium homeostasis to cAMP-dependent cyst growth in polycystic liver disease. Journal of Hepatology 66, 571–580 PubMed
  • Fiorotto R, Villani A, Kourtidis A, Scirpo R, Ameduni M, Geibel PJ, Cadamuro M, Spirli C, Anastasiadis PZ, Strazzabosco M. (2016) The Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator Controls Biliary Epithelial Inflammation and Permeability by Regulating Src Tyrosine Kinase Activity. Hepatology 64, 2118–2134 PubMed
  • Spirli C, Villani A, Mariotti V, Fabris L, Fiorotto R, Strazzabosco M. (2015) Posttranslational regulation of polycystin-2 protein expression as a novel mechanism of cholangiocyte reaction and repair from biliary damage. Hepatology 62, 1828–1839 PubMed
  • Scirpo R, Fiorotto R, Villani A, Ameduni M, Spirli C, Strazzabosco M. (2015) Stimulation of Nuclear Receptor Peroxisome Proliferator–Activated Receptor-g Limits NF-kB-Dependent Inflammation in Mouse Cystic Fibrosis Biliary Epithelium. Hepatology 62, 1551–1562 PubMed