Professor Ilaria Bellantuono MD, PhDIlaria Bellantuono

Academic Unit of Bone Biology
The University of Sheffield
D Floor, The Medical School
S10 2TA

Office: DU33

Tel: +44 (0)114 215 9037
Fax: +44 (0)114 271 1711
Secretary: Lindsey Crowson Tel: +44 (0)114 215 9004


I am the Co-Director of the Healthy Lifespan Institute (, one of the 4 flagship Institutes at the University of Sheffield. I am medically qualified but no longer clinically active. After my PhD in the Department of Experimental Haematology, Paterson Institute for Cancer Research, at the University of Manchester on gene therapy in hematopoietic stem cells, I decided I wanted to focus all my efforts on research. I undertook post-doctoral training in the Department of Immunology, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College, working on leukaemia stem cells and ways to harness the immune system to eliminate them. Here I also developed an interest in bone marrow stromal stem cells. This area of research expanded in subsequent years at the University of Manchester, where I was particularly interested in understanding how stem cells age and impact on the function of blood and bone. I was appointed Lecturer at the University of Sheffield, I am currently Professor in Musculoskeletal Ageing and very recently I was appointed to lead the Healthy Lifespan Institute.

Research Interests

The focus of my research is on ways to reduce the onset of multiple age-related disease and frailty by preventing or reversing the ageing using medicinal drugs (geroprotectors). My primary interest is in the diseases of the musculoskeletal system such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. I work closely with many colleagues and experts in different age-related diseases to identify common mechanisms (DNA repair and senescence) involved in driving ageing and compounds which targets those mechanisms and able to benefit more than one disease at the same time. I am very much interested in how we can design clinical trials to test geroprotectors to prevent multimorbidity and frailty. For this I have worked with Industrial partners and expert in regulatory affairs to reach consensus at the European level.and our roadmap is here. (Bellantuono I. Find drugs that delay many diseases of old age. Nature (online) 2018).

Teaching Interests

Until 2017 I was the Director of training for the MRC-AR UK Centre for Integrated research into Musculoskeletal Ageing (CIMA). The Centre is a is a collaboration between the Universities of Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield and the training includes an MRes and PhD programme. I also contribute to the Student Selected Components of Phase 1a of the MBChB course.

Professional Activities

Most of my time is now taken by getting the Healthy Lifespan Institute up and running. This has been built from my experience when I have Chaired and led the effort of the COST Action MouseAGE ( a European network comprising over 200 researchers from 25 EU countries to identify a roadmap to take medicinal drugs targeting mechanisms of ageing (geroprotectors) to the patients. I still head the Mellanby Centre skelet.AL laboratories (former Bone Analysis Laboratory), which provides access and expertise to contemporary technologies for the analysis of bone to investigators, internally and externally. I am the Director of Research for the Department of Oncology and Metabolism and a member of the Faculty Research and Innovation Committee, which oversees the Faculty strategic approach to Research and Innovation. Until recently I have been the Chair of the BBSRC Bioscience Skills and Careers (BSC) Strategy Advisory Panel, The BBSRC Fellowship portfolio monitoring group and a member of BBSRC Research Advisory Panel, roles I have enjoyed enormously and from which I have gained experience in policy making in the vital skills and science sector.. I regularly take part in evaluations for Horizon 2020 calls.

Current Projects

  • Understanding the role cellular senescence in bone and joint and testing of geroprtoectors for skeletal health
  • Identification and testing of interventions able to delay ageing and improve healthspan in line with clinical translation
  • Development of new tools to screen new senolytics

Key Publications

  1. Bellantuono I. Find drugs that delay many diseases of old age.  Nature (online) 2018
  2. Figueira I, Fernandes A, Mladenovic A, Lopez-Contreras A, Henriques CM, Selman C, Ferreiro E, Gonos ES, Trejo JL, Misra J, I Bellantuono. Interventions for age-related diseases: shifting the paradigm. Mech Ageing Dev. 2016 160:69-92
  3. Zoledronate attenuates accumulation of DNA damage in mesenchymal stemcells and protects their function. J Misra, ST. Mohanty, S Madan, JA. Fernandes, FH Ebetino, RGG Russell and I Bellantuono, Stem Cells 2016 34(3):756-67
  4. The chondrocyte clock gene Bmal1 controls cartilage homeostasis and integrity, M Dudek, N Gossan, N Yang, Hee-Jeong Im, Jayalath PD Ruckshanthi, H Yoshitane, Xin Li, Ding Jin, Ping Wang, M Boudiffa, I Bellantuono, et al. J Clin Invest 2016 Jan 4;126(1):365-76
  5. ST Mohanty, CJ Cairney, AD Chantry, S Madan, J Fernandes, SJ Howe, HD Moore, MJ Thompson, B Chen, A Thrasher, WN Keith, I Bellantuono A small molecule modulator of prion protein increases human mesenchymal stem cell lifespan, ex vivo expansion and engraftment to bone marrow in NOD/SCID mice, Stem Cells 30(6):1134-43, 2012
  6. A Gambardella, C.K. Nagaraju, P.J. O’Shea, S.T. Mohanty, L. Kottam, J. Pilling M. Sullivan, M. Djerbi , W. Koopmann, P.I.Croucher and I Bellantuono. Glycogen synthase kinase-3α/β inhibition promotes in vivo amplification of endogenous mesenchymal progenitors with osteogenic and adipogenic potential and their differentiation to the osteogenic lineage JBMR 26(4):811-21, 2011
  7. Mohanty, S.T., Kottam, L., Gambardella, A., Nicklin, M.J., Coulton, L., Hughes, D., Wilson, A.G., Croucher, P.I., and Bellantuono, I. (2010) Alterations in the self-renewal and differentiation ability of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells in a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Research and Therapy 12: R149
  8. Cairney, C.J., Sanguinetti, G., Ranghini, E., Chantry, A.D., Nostro, M.C., Battacharyya, A., Svendsen, C.N., Keith, W.N., and Bellantuono, I. (2009) A System biology approach to Down Syndrome: identification of Notch/Wnt dysregulation in a model of stem cell aging. Biochimica et biophysica acta 1792: 353-363
  9. Bellantuono, I., Aldahmash, A., and Kassem, M., (2009). Aging of marrow stromal stem cells and their contribution to age related bone loss. Biochimica et biophysica acta 1792: 364-370
  10. Bellantuono, I and Keith, W. N., (2007) Stem cell ageing: does it happen and can we intervene? Expert Reviews in Molecular Medicine 9: 1-20
  11. Holmes, D.K., Bates, N., Murray, M., Ladusans, E.J., Morabito, A., Bolton-Maggs, P.H., Johnston, T.A., Walkenshaw, S., Wynn, R.F., and Bellantuono, I. (2006) Hematopoietic progenitor cell deficiency in fetuses and children affected by Down's syndrome. Experimental Hematology 34: 1611-1615
  12. Wynn, R.F., Hart, C.A., Corradi-Perini, C., O'Neill, L., Evans, C.A., Wraith, J.E., Fairbairn, L.J., and Bellantuono, I. (2004) A small proportion of mesenchymal stem cells strongly expresses functionally active CXCR4 receptor capable of promoting migration to bone marrow. Blood 104: 2643-2645
  13. Baxter, M.A., Wynn, R.F., Jowitt, S.N., Wraith, J.E., Fairbairn, L.J., and Bellantuono, I. (2004) Study of telomere length reveals rapid aging of human marrow stromal cells following in vitro expansion. Stem Cells 22: 675-682
  14. Campagnoli, C., Roberts, I.A., Kumar, S., Bennett, P.R., and Bellantuono, I. and Fisk, N.M. (2001) Identification of mesenchymal stem/progenitor cells in human first-trimester fetal blood, liver, and bone marrow. Blood 98: 2396-2402

For a full list of publications please see myPublications