Francesca Barone

Colleges, School and Institutes

Research interests

Basic/translational Research Interest

Leukocyte stromal cell interaction in ectopic lymphoneogenesis

During organogenesis, the interaction between leukocytes and stroma is critical for stromal cell activation and formation of lymphoid organs. In target organs of autoimmune diseases, the inflammatory cells infiltrating the issue organized themselves in structures that closely resemble secondary lymphoid organs in a process called ectopic lymphoneogenesis. While physiologic lymphoneogenesis has been largely defined in its mechanisms, little is know about the cells/signals that regulate the formation of ectopic lymphoid structures during disease, however tertiary lymphoid structures are believed to contribute to disease pathogenesis and influence disease prognosis. My research is aimed to understand using in vivo animal models of disease an in observational and functional studies in humans the mechanisms regulating the complex interaction between leukocytes and stromal cells during the establishment of tertiary lymphoid structures in target tissue of chronic diseases.

Role of ectopic lymphoneogenesis in inflammation

The role of ectopic lymphoid structures in the dynamic of the inflammatory process is not clear. Some evidence even suggests that ectopic germinal centers might support lymphoma development during chronic inflammatory processes. My group aim to understand the functional role of ectopic lymphoneogenesis in the balance between persistence and resolution of the inflammatory process and the role that stromal cells, including blood endothelial and lymphatic cells play in this process.

Principal Investigation of eSSential - EULAR Sjogren’s Syndrome Experimental and Translational Investigative alliance.

eSSential is a novel initiative aimed to facilitate and improve a synergistic collaboration between scientists and clinician with a special interest in Sjogren’s syndrome. This initiative is endorsed as EULAR study group within the Investigative Rheumatology Committee.



Translational and Clinical Research Interests


The role of histopathology in diagnosis, prognosis and management of Sjogren’s syndrome

I have started a novel service for salivary gland processing and analysis to assist pharmaceutics companies that have interest to expand their market to Sjogren’s syndrome. The aim of this project in collaboration with the University of Birmingham Biorepository (HBRC) is to convey the expertise in tissue processing and storage offered by the HBRC with the academic expertise that the team I lead has developed in the evaluation and analysis of inflamed tissue histology. The aim is to expand this service within the new Institute for Translational Medicine to provide a platform for pharmaceutical companies to engage with academics and clinicians and for clinicians with limited research experience to exploit their cohorts and deliver suitable, sustainable projects.

I am interested in implementing a multidisciplinary approach to treatment and care of patients with Sjogren’s syndrome. Within my role as director of ITM laboratories my aim is to implement biomarker discovery and optimization and discovery for early phases clinical trials in Sjogren’s syndrome and other chronic inflammatory diseases with organ localization. 

Willingness to take PhD students


PhD projects

Dr Barone is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the following areas:

Role and regulation of stromal cell function during inflammation and resolution
Generation, organisation and maintenance of ectopic lymphoid structures in target organs of autoimmune disease
Role of innate lymphoid cells in inflammation