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Dr Maria Teresa Esposito

Lecturer Biomedical Science (Cancer Biology)

Medicine Research Group

    Dr Esposito’s research interests encompass various aspects of translational medicine and in particular targeted therapy including stem cell and gene therapy, identification of disease molecular signature and exploitation of DNA damage repair defects as a new therapy for acute myeloid leukaemia.


    Formerly trained in gene and stem cell therapy, after completing her Master’s studies she enrolled the PhD program of the European School of Molecular Medicine, focused on cancer and human genetics. There she characterized a rare population of stem cells within the mouse bone marrow (BMSCs), investigating their self-renewal, differentiation and tumourigenic potential. To pursue her interest in the biology of stem cells and the molecular events underlying their transformation in cancer stem cells, she then joined as post-doc the team of Prof. Eric So at the Institute of Cancer Research, and eventually moved to King’s College London  in 2010 when the group transferred there. At King’s she studied the molecular pathways required for establishment and maintenance of Mixed Lineage Leukaemia (MLL) stem cells, contributing to validate Beta Catenin as a new therapeutic target for MLL through genetic (Knock out mice) and functional (shRNA) approaches. Building on these skills she established her own research domain within the team, developing a therapy-oriented research project working on how to exploit DNA damage repair defects to target leukemic stem cells while sparing the normal ones, an exciting and emerging field in leukaemia therapeutics. This work led to a patent filed in the UK in 2014 and a manuscript recommended for publication in Nature Medicine. 


    Dr Esposito’s technical expertise spans from cellular and molecular biology techniques to histology, microscopy and flow cytometry. Expert in isolation of stem cells from bone marrow, in vitro cell culture, differentiation assays, proliferation assays, gene cloning, adenoviral and lentiviral vector preparations, RNAi technologies, nucleic acids isolation, qPCR, biochemistry, and techniques to study DNA damage repair.

    -       PhD Molecular Medicine, SEMM European School of Molecular Medicine, CEINGE Biotecnologie Avanzate Napoli, Italy (2005-2009)

    -       Five- year Bachelor + Master’s degree in Biotechnological Science with a Major in Medicine, University of Napoli Federico II, Italy (1999-2004)

    • Member of the European Association of Cancer Research
    • Member of the European Haematology Association


    • Peer-reviewed manuscripts for publications in Oncogene, Gene, Blood, Haematologica and Nature.

    ·         Springboard Women Career Development testimonial

    ·         Scientific Outreach

    - Co-Founder of AIRicerca, the Association of Italian Researchers worldwide which promotes scientific collaborations, exchange of professional information, and cultivates the role of scientists. Dr Esposito has been News Editor of the AIRIcerca website since March 2014, ensuring daily publication of biology and medicine news.

    - STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ambassador. Since 2011, Dr Esposito has been running career events aimed at inspiring students about science careers and at widening participation of minority students to university life.

    - Science writer. Dr Esposito has contributed to a variety of newsletters, journals and blogs aimed at

    1) informing scientists and patients on developments in the fields of human genetics, stem cells, assisted reproduction, embryo research and its legal and ethical implications (BioNews).

    2) fostering an on-campus conversation between academia and industry to move ideas forward (Oxbridge Roundtable, OBR).

    3) entertaining scientists and informing non- scientists on lab life (LabLit)

    4) enlightening students and professionals  on the most recent updates in the biotechnology field (Orizzonti Biotecnologici)


    Leukaemia is the most common childhood cancer. Chromosomal translocations involving the  MLL gene represent the most aggressive and drug-resistant form of leukaemia. How MLL  leukemic stem cells (LSC) develop chemotherapy resistance is unknown. HoxA9 has been  identified as a key target and the most critical prognostic factor for MLL-leukaemia. I recently  demonstrated that HoxA9 induces resistance to DNA damage repair inhibitors PARPi  by activating  the Homologous Recombination pathway.

    I am interested in understanding by using in vitro and in vivo models, mechanisms of drug resistance for MLL-leukaemia  and to design novel targeted therapeutic approaches.


    • test




    Exploiting DNA damage repair defects to target Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

    Development of new therapeutic approaches to treat Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.



    BSc in Biomedical science:

    Module Leader: Clinical Diagnosis BS5003

    Lecturing on:

    BS5005: Immunology

    MSc in Biomedical Science:

    Lecturing on:

    BS7002: Cell Pathology and Haematology