Dr Elena Palma

Principal Investigator 

Mitochondrial Medicine for Liver Disease

Contact Dr. Elena Palma: e.palma@reserchinliver.org.uk 

Dr Elena Palma graduated in “Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology” from the University of Padova (Italy), where she also obtained a PhD in Cellular Biology. In 2010, she joined the Institute of Hepatology as a Postdoctoral Researcher and then a Sub-team Leader working on Alcohol-related liver disease (ArLD) and liver cancer. 





Her research aims at pushing the innovation of experimental models for the study of the liver and liver diseases, to improve their suitability and relevance for drug discovery and preclinical screening. Her efforts aim at replicating in vitro what happens in patients.

She is fascinated by the pathophysiological role mitochondria play in several disorders and the mechanisms of organelle adaptation and maladaptation to stressors. Her ultimate goal is to develop mitochondria-targeted therapies for liver disease.


Advancement of human immunocompetent organotypic models of liver diseases and malignancies. These are based on the culture of patient-derived Precision Cut Liver or Tumour Slices and the project aims at optimising reproducible and consistent methods for the application of slices in preclinical drug screening and investigations of complex disease processes.

Study of the role of mitochondria in ArLD and development of novel therapeutic strategies. The focus is on the impact of alcohol toxicity on mitochondrial dynamics and morphology, especially in the intriguing and controversial phenomenon of megamitochondria. The definitive objective will be to target mitochondria as a therapy for ArLD.

Investigation of the role of cyclophilins in liver disease and primary liver cancers. Preclinical data and clinical trials indicate cyclophilin inhibitors as a promising therapy for multiple diseases and our study aims at further dissecting their mechanisms of action in hepatic fibrosis, ArLD, Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Cholangiocarcinoma.

Development of novel therapies for primary liver cancer. The main approaches include immunomodulatory and mitochondria-targeted therapies, and their preclinical testing in in vitro cellular systems or ex vivo patient-derived models.

Key collaborations:

Dr Luca Urbani:

1. Development of perfusion co-culture systems for Precision Cut Tissue Slices and immune cells;

2. Investigation of the role of cyclophilin inhibition in hepatic fibrosis;

3. Study of mitochondria regulation in Hepatic Stellate Cells activation.

Miss Shirin Elizabeth Khorsandi (joined supervision of a PhD student):

Investigation of the role of exomir (microRNA contained in exosomes) in modulating the mitochondrial proteome in Hepatocellular Carcinoma.

Dr Antonio Riva (joined supervision of a PhD student): Application of Precision Cut Tumour Slices in the study of the role of gut-liver axis in the response to immunotherapies in liver cancer.



Sergio Francesco Bozzano (RA),
Ravi Jagatia (PhD student),
Una Rastovic (PhD student),
Moyo Feyide (MRes student)
Roger Carles Fontana (PhD student),
Wendy Fernandes (PhD student)







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