Imperial College London

DrJorgeBernardino de la Serna

Faculty of MedicineNational Heart & Lung Institute

Senior Lecturer in Inhalation Toxicology and Pharmacology



+44 (0)20 7594 3277j.bernardino-de-la-serna




102Sir Alexander Fleming BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Lung's alveolar epithelium is the most permeable interfacial barrier of the human body. The risk for adverse respiratory effects induced by the inhalation of nanoparticles at the lower airways depends on their hazard towards lung surfactant, cells, and organisms; and on its exposure i.e., lifetime and concentration of the inhaled nanoparticle, as well as the distribution of its deposition in the respiratory airways. I am developing novel advanced in vitro models that can be used for toxicological and pharmacological testing. I am employing cells cultured at the air-liquid interface mimicking the epithelial airways, also including lung surfactant and under physiological respiratory mechanics. These models are challenged with nanoparticles to unravel the mechanisms of lung surfactant interaction and cellular uptake. These approaches will help to gain further understanding of the role inhaled toxicological nanoparticles have in compromising our breathing, initiating lung inflammatory processes and airways diseases. The acquired knowledge will be applied in designing novel and better pharmacological drugs.

Molecular Sensing and Remodeling at the Respiratory Airways

I am interested in how airways cell membranes sense and remodel. I am aiming to better understand the manner plasma and intracellular membranes communicate with their micro/nano-environment, including foreign biofunctional materials, nanoparticles, and micro/nano-organisms. I want to gain knowledge on how they perceive stimuli and decode signals, and how they encode their responses and trafficking mechanisms. I am interested in learning the way they harbour supramolecular assemblies and favour particular lipid-protein spatiotemporal arrangements. In particular, I focus my research on the molecular basis for cellular communication during innate immune relevant processes. 

Respiratory Cell and Molecular Immuno-Physics and -Engineering

In general, I am interested in the molecular basis for cellular communication during immunological relevant processes at the respiratory airways, such as acute and chronic inflammation. I am focusing on lipid-protein spatiotemporal interactions, its distribution and dynamical functional architectures at the micro- and nano-scale. In particular, I am aiming to understand the mechanisms of membrane sensing and remodelling in for example T-cells at the resting state, during T-cell activation and at the Immune Synapse. For this purpose, I am developing a novel manner to fine-manipulate and control the activation of immune cells combined with the use of high-advanced 4D micro-/nano-scopy and spectroscopy combined with a detailed data analysis and quantification.


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Personal Fellowships and Grants

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  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grant: "A Clinical Trial of Nebulized Surfactant for the Treatment of Severe COVID-19 in Adults (COVSurf)". (2020). GRANT_NUMBER: INV-016631
  • BBSRC iCASE grant for a PhD student. DPhil Program from the University of Oxford “Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP” (2019-2023). 
  • Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (Personal Grant). (2013-2017) "NanodynacTCELLvation" PCIG13-GA-2013-618914
  • Personal Travel Grant granted by the Lundbeck Foundation. 2007-2008.
  • Personal Fellowship granted by the Lundbeck Foundation. 2007-2009
  • Fellowship for a Long Term Scientific Mission granted by the Spanish Ministry of Science at Dr. L. Mateu lab., 2005.  Molecular Structure Laboratory. Center for Structural Biology, Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Investigations (IVIC). Caracas. Venezuela. (3 months).
  • Fellowship for a short term scientific mission (STSM) granted by a COST European Network at Dr. D. Marsh Lab., 2005. Spectroscopy Department. Max-Plank Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. Gottingen, Germany. (1 month). 
  • Fellowship for a short term scientific mission (STSM) granted by a COST European Network at Prof. Dr. G. Lindblom Lab., 2004. Dept. of Biophysical Chemistry, Umeå University. Umea, Sweden. (1 month). 
  • Fellowship for a short term scientific mission (STSM) by a “Del Amo-Complutense project grant” at Prof. Dr. J A. Zasadzinski lab., 2003. University of California at Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara, USA (2 weeks).
  • Fellowship for a long Term Scientific Mission granted by the Spanish Ministry of Science at Prof. Dr. L.A. Bagatolli lab., 2003. MEMPHYS-Center for Biomembrane Physics. University of Southern Denmark. Odense, Denmark. (4 months). 
  • Full Ph.D. Scholarship granted by the Spanish Ministry of Science. 2001-2006.  Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department, Biology Faculty, Complutense University, Madrid. Spain.
  • Studentship  at the Humboldt University at Prof. Dr. W. Dubiel lab., 1999-2000. Institue of Biochemistry, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. (9 months).
  • Fellowship IAESTE  (International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience), 1997. SENAI/CETIQT. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (3 months). 

Honors and Awards

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  • Frontispiece. Manuscript selected for the 2017 Frontispiece Gallery of the magazine Chemistry- A European Journal Volume 23, Issue 41.
  • Cover of the Science Translational Medicine, Issue of February 10 2016. Sci Trans Med 10;8(325):325ra18. 
  • 5th Prize of the Huygens Imaging Contest 2015.
  • Back Cover of the ChemPhysChem Journal, Issue of July 16 2015 (7), 1560-1560.
  • Cover of the EMBO Journal, Issue of October 17, 2012. EMBO J. 31(20).
  • 4th Honorable Mention at the Nikon Small World Competition 2011 (position 24th) for the photomicrography entitled “Giant Liposomes of Pulmonary Surfactant”. 
  • Cover of the Biophysical Journal, Issue of September, 2011. From the paper: "Biomimetic N-terminal alkylation of peptoid analogues of Surfactant Protein C". Biophys. J. 101(5)1076-1085
  • Recipient of the 1st place at The Art of Science Image Contest at the 55th American Biophysical Society Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. USA. 2011 Image entitled Membrane Domains in Giant Liposomes” 
  • Recipient of the Best Poster Award at the 38th Annual Meeting of the Danish National Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. “Life in 4D- Bioimaging in time and space”. November the 3-5th 2010. Helsingør. Denmark. “Respiration: a lipid immiscibility interfacial phenomenon”. Jorge Bernardino de la Serna, Søren Hansen, Zane Berzina, Hans K. Hannibal-Bach, Adam C. Simonsen, Christer S. Ejsing, Jens Knudsen and Luis Bagatolli. 
  • 6th Image of Distinction at the Nikon Small World (position 41st) Competition 2009 for the photomicrography entitled “Giant Liposomes of Pulmonary Surfactant”. 
  • Cover of the Biophysical Journal, Issue of September 2, 2009. From the paper: “Segregated phases in pulmonary surfactant membranes do not show coexistence of lipid populations with differentiated dynamic properties”. Biophys. J. 97(5)1381-1389 
  • 10th Image of Distinction at the Nikon Small World (position 46th) Competition 2007 for the photomicrography entitled “Giant Unilamellar and Multilamellar Vesicles”. 
  • Cover of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Issue of September 24, 2004. From the paper: “Cholesterol Rules: direct observation of the coexistence of two fluid phases in native pulmonary surfactant membranes at physiological temperatures. J.Biol. Chem. 279(39): 40715-40722. 
  • Recipient of the “Young Investigator’ Award for the Best poster in basic sciences”. Surfactant Meeting 2004 “only partially floating” Berlin, June 1st - June 5th. “Lateral phase separation in giant unilamellar vesicles made of native pulmonary surfactant preparations. Role of cholesterol and the hydrophobic proteins SP-B and SP-C”. J. Bernardino de la Serna, A.C. Simonsen, J. Pérez-Gil and L.A. Bagatolli.


Prof. Jim A. Thomas, University of Sheffield, Theranostic Complexes that Function as Broad-spectrum Antimicrobials in Therapeutically Resistant Pathogens, 2019

Guest Lectures

Membrane Sensing and Remodeling, University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland, 2020

Spatiotemporally resolving lipid and protein interactions at the nanoscale by means of 4D super-resolution microscopy, Welcome Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, Queen’s University Belfast, 2020

Membrane sensing and remodeling during the Immune Synapse, Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, King's College London, 2020

Membrane Sensing and Remodelling during the immune synapse. A spatiotemporal adaptive tale of lipid packing dynamics and collective assembly resolved with Super-resolution quantitative Imaging, MRC London Institute of Medical Science, Imperial College London, 2019

Research Student Supervision

Layne,E, The role of Adhesion G-protein coupled receptor, GPR116, in the. recycling of lung surfactant

Martin,A, Understanding how vaping compromises the functional properties of Lung Surfactant

Potluri,S, The Effect of Microplastics on Alveolar Type 1 Cell Translocation and Cellular Uptake

de Santos Moreno,B, Development and Characterisation of a respiratory barrier model for the study of teh effects of inhaled agents on pulmonary surfactant and alveolar epithelium