skip to content



Dr. Mennella received his B.Sc. cum laude from the University La Sapienza in Rome, Italy. After receiving a Fulbright Fellowship to continue his studies in the US, he obtained his MSc and PhD in Physiology and Biophysics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, where he discovered the cellular mechanism of microtubule depolymerization mediated by Kinesin-13s and studied the mechanism of their regulation (Mennella et al, Nature Cell Biology, 2005; Science Editors’ Choice, 2005; Journal of Cell Biology, 2008).

From there, Dr. Mennella joined the Howard Hughes Medical Institute laboratory of Dr. David Agard at the University of California San Francisco as a postdoctoral fellow, where he pioneered application of super-resolution microscopy and advanced imaging methods in organelle cell biology, in particular for analysing centrosome and cilia function. At UCSF, Dr. Mennella was first to describe the architecture of the Pericentriolar Material of centrosomes, debunking a long-standing assumption of its solely amorphous nature (Mennella et al, Nature Cell Biology, 2012; Nature Cell Biology News and Views 2012; Nature Reviews Molecular and Cell Biology Highlights 2012; Trends in Cell Biology, 2014, 2015)

In 2014, Dr. Mennella became an Assistant Professor in the Biochemistry Department at University of Toronto, where he applied advanced imaging methods for translational medicine research increasing sensitivity of diagnosis of rare lung disease motile ciliopathy Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD) and for characterizing novel cellular organelles structures (Sydor et al. Elife, 2018, Liu et al, Science Translational Medicine, 2020, Featured on magazine cover).

In 2019, Dr. Mennella became Associate Professor in the National Research Health Center and Biomedical Research center at U. of Southampton where he published the discovery of a novel type of cilium in the airways (Nguyen et al. Developmental Cell, 2020 and Liu et al. Developmental Cell, 2020) and led a collaborative team to discover a new isoform of ACE-2, the receptor of SARS-CoV-2 in airway epithelial cells published in Nature Medicine.

In 2021, Dr. Mennella became Director of Research at the MRC Toxicology Unit where he will focus on analyzing the effect of exposure to environmental pollutants and drugs on the airways. Dr. Mennella has received external funding from UKRI-BBSRC, Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), National Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada and new investigator awards from CIHR Institute of Human Development and Child Health, the ATS-PCD foundation, AAIR and other charities.


Research Interests:

The main aim of the research program is to understand how airways cells respond, adapt and survive when confronted with different types of insults such as toxic particulates, drugs targeting the airways and infectious agents.

The emergence of global health threats, such as COVID-19, has dramatically emphasized the role that the airways play in protecting our health throughout the life course. In addition to infectious diseases, the most recent systematic analysis of the global burden of disease, which includes data from more than 200 nations, has shown that the largest increase in risk of disease results from airway exposure to pollution from ambient particulate matter (PM). It is therefore of the outmost importance that we investigate the molecular mechanisms driving induction and progression of toxicity in the airways in order to identify biomarkers of disease and rescue strategies.

Toward this goal we employ airway primary cellular models from lung compartments to understand how different molecular insults affect pathways linked to airway defence. Our plan is to develop an airway-specific toolbox combining unbiased high-throughput assays and mechanistic studies to systematically identify key molecular events, common or different, in the adverse outcome pathways driven by potential toxicants. We employ a range of molecular tools including CRISPR-Cas9 loss of function studies, proximity mapping protein-protein interaction analysis and advanced imaging technologies such as super-resolution microscopy and volumetric EM to provide both a global and detailed view of airway cellular phenotypes.

Our knowledge and tools will be shared with the scientific community and industry partners for use in analysis of toxicity and adverse outcome pathways of novel compounds used in the clinic or introduced in the environment, such inhaled drugs and their delivery systems, new materials or environmental pollutants.



Key publications: 

Blume C, Jackson C, Spalluto M, Legebeke J, Nazlamova L, Conforti F, Perotin-Collard JM, Frank M, Crispin M, Coles J, Ridley R, Dean LSN, Loxham M, Azim A, Tariq K, Johnston S, Skipp PJ, Djukanovic R, Baralle D, McCormick C, Davies ED, Lucas J, Wheway G and Mennella V. A novel isoform of ACE-2 is expressed in human and bronchial respiratory epithelia and is upregulated in response to RNA respiratory virus infectionNature Genetics; 53, 205-214. (2021).

Liu Z, Nguyen QPH, Nanjundappa R, Megherbi A, Delgehyr N, Doherty R, Thompson J, Jackson C, Dell S, Czymmek K, Munier A, Mahjoub M and Mennella V. Super-resolution reveals novel cilium in airway multiciliated cellsDevelopmental Cell; 55(2), 224-236. (2020).

Nguyen QPH, Liu Z, Zlock L, Coyaud E, Laurent E, Ouyan H, Finkbeiner W, Moraes T, Raught B and Mennella V. Comparative super-resolution map of basal foot in primary and motile ciliaDevelopmental Cell; 55(2), 209-223. (2020).

Liu Z, Nguyen QPH, Guan Q, Albulescu A, Erdman L, Mahdaviyeh Y, Kang J, Hong O, Hegele R, Moraes T, Dell S and Mennella V. Quantitative super-resolution toolbox for diagnosis of motile ciliopathiesScience Translational Medicine; 12(535)eaay0071. (2020).

Sydor A, Coyaud E, Rovelli C, Liu H, Laurent E, Raught B and Mennella V. PPP1R35 is a novel centrosomal protein that regulates centriole length in concert with microcephaly protein RTTNeLife; 7:e37846. (2018).

Costain G, Liu Z, Mennella V, Radicioni G, Goczi AN, Albulescu A, Walker S, Ngan B, Manson D, Vali R, Khan M, Palaniyar N, Hill DB, Hall DA, Marshall CR, Knowles M, Zariwala MA, Kesimer M and Dell SD. Hereditary mucin deficiency cause by biallelic loss of function of MUC5BAm J Respir Crit Care Med; 205(7), 761-768. (2022).


View all publications

Other publications: 
  1. Gopalakrishnan J, Mennella V, Blachon S, Zhai B, Smith AH, Megraw TL, Nicastro D, Gygi SP, Agard DA, Avidor-Reiss T  “Sas-4 provides a scaffold for cytoplasmic complexes and tethers them in a centrosome” Nature Communications, 2011 Jun 21; 2:359. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1367
  2.  Mennella V, Tan D, Ansejo AB, Buster DW, Rath U, Ao M, Sosa H and Sharp D “Motor domain phosphorylation and regulation of the Drosophila Kinesin 13, KLP10A” Journal of Cell Biology, 2009 Aug 24; 186(4):481-90
  3.  Tan D, Asenjo AB, Mennella V, Sharp DJ, Sosa H “Kinesin-13s form rings around microtubules” Journal of cell biology, 2006 Oct 2
  4.  Mennella V, Rogers GC, Rogers SL, Buster DW, Vale RD, Sharp DJ “Functionally distinct kinesin-13 family members cooperate to regulate microtubule dynamics during interphase” Nature Cell Biology, 2005 7 3 235-245 Science Editors’ Choice, 2005; 307 (5716)
  5. Patskovsky VV, Mennella V, Almo SC “Crystal structure of the hypothetical transcriptional regulator ycdc from E.coli” Protein Data Bank, 2003 1pb6 release date 5-27-2003. Structural genomics project

(Reviews and Book Chapters)

  1. Mennella V and Liu Z “Nanometer-scale Molecular Mapping by Super-resolution Fluorescence Microscopy” Methods in Molecular Biology, 2021 in press
  2. Mennella V, Jackson C, Driessens C, Horton KL and Lucas J  “Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia” Encyclopedia for Respiratory Medicine, 2020. 2nd edition. Elsevier
  3.  Mennella V  "Super-resolution LM: SIM (structured illumination microscopy"  Encyclopedia of Cell Biology, 2016. Editors: Ralph Bradshaw Philip Stahl, Elsevier. Vol. 2 86-98
  4. Sydor AM, Czymmek KJ, Puchner EM, Mennella V "Super-resolution microscopy: from single molecules to supramolecular assemblies"  Trends in Cell Biology, 2015 25 (12), 730-748.
  5. Mennella V, Hanna R, Kim M  "Subdiffraction resolution microscopy methods for analyzing centrosomes organization" Methods in cell biology, 2015 129, 129-152.
  6. Mennella V, Agard DA, Huang B and Pelletier L “Amorphous no more: subdiffraction view of the pericentriolar material architecture” Trends in cell biology, 2014 24 (3), 188-197
MRC Investigator

Contact Details

MRC Toxicology Unit
Gleeson Building
Tennis Court Road


Telephone and Email