Elisa Landi moved to the Netherlands from Italy after obtaining a master’s degree in Medical, Molecular, and Cellular Biotechnologies from San Raffaele University, Milan. During her master’s internship at Telethon Institute for Gene therapy (San Raffaele University), she specialized in hESCs culture and gene editing. In September 2021, Elisa joined MERLN as a PhD candidate under the supervision of Vanessa LaPointe and Mor Dickman. Her project is a collaboration between the MERLN Institute, the University Eye Clinical Maastricht (Mor Dickman and Rudy Nuijts), and Radboud UMC (Hans van Bokhoven).
Elisa will work on Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD), a common inherited eye disease that is a frequent cause of cornea-related blindness. In the last decade, multiple genetic and molecular studies have implicated an intronic CTG trinucleotide repeat expansion within the TCF4 gene as a causal variant in the majority of FECD patients. Since the molecular mechanisms fuelling the disease are still to be assessed, this project aims to develop an in vitro cell platform exploiting the CRISP/Cas9 editing tool to model the disease and eventually test novel therapies.