Dr Isabella Marinelli PhD

Dr Isabella Marinelli

Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research
Research Fellow

Contact details

Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Isabella Marinelli is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine (Institute of Metabolism and System Research). Her research focuses on the development of mathematical models that can be used to understand the dynamics of complex biological systems and eventually to support clinicians in their decision-making process. Isabella's work is at the interface between Mathematics, Biology, and Medicine. She is part of an interdisciplinary team, actively collaborating with medical doctors, physiologists, and experimentalists.

Centre Twitter handle - https://twitter.com/SMQB_UoB


  • PhD in Mathematics and Statistics 2019
  • MSc in Science in Mathematics, University of Trento, 2015
  • BSc in Mathematics, University of Pisa, 2012


Isabella obtained her BSc degree in Mathematics from the University of Pisa (Pisa, Italy), and an MSc degree in Mathematics from the University of Trento (Trento, Italy). Her interest in Medical and Biological Sciences led her to the study of different mathematical modelling applications in these fields.  For her BSc thesis, Isabella worked on a theoretical analysis of an age-structured epidemiological model for diffusion of hepatitis C. She then followed a more computational approach during her MSc project, writing a thesis based on the work she performed at the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (Bilthoven, the Netherlands). The project included developing and analysing an age-structured transmission model for the dynamics of Varicella-Zoster Virus.

After these experiences in the epidemiology field, she turned towards some applications of mathematical modelling in physiology. Before starting her PhD, Isabella worked as an intern at BCAM - Basque Center for Applied Mathematics (Bilbao, Spain) on a model for the simulation of cortical spreading depression propagation on a real brain geometry.

She later joined the centre as a PhD student. Her doctoral project focused on the development of a physiologically grounded mathematical model (based on relevant and available experimental data) to describe the dynamics of electrically active pancreatic β-cells. For the work undertaken at BCAM, in 2019 Isabella was awarded her PhD in Mathematics and Statistics from the of the University of the Basque Country (Bilbao, Spain).

Isabella is currently working as Research Fellow at the Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine at the University of Birmingham.


Isabella is an applied mathematician interested in using her skills to support clinicians, physiologists, and biologists in tackling clinical and healthcare-related problems with a strong emphasis on epilepsy and endocrine diseases. In her work, she uses mathematical techniques to understand the mechanisms behind complex biological systems and to extrapolate information from clinical data to distinguish healthy from pathological cases. Isabella's current research includes:

  • Exploring the impact of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, such as sleep and stress, on the overall likelihood of epileptiform activity
  • Understanding the complex oscillatory activity in pancreatic beta-cells, which are responsible for secreting the hormone insulin in a pulsatile manner
  • Developing tools for the diagnosis of endocrine disorders by using measurements of hormone concentrations 

Other activities

Alongside her research studies, Isabella has a strong interest in creating a research culture where public and patient engagement and involvement is an important aspect of her work. Therefore, she is part of a cross-theme Community Action Team (CAT) where PGRs and postdocs work together to engage patients and the public with research. 


I. Marinelli, P. A. Fletcher, A. S. Sherman, L. S. Satin, and R. Bertram. Symbiosis of Electrical and Metabolic Oscillations in Pancreatic β-Cells. Frontiers in Physiology, 12:2153, dec 2021; https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.781581

N. C. Law, I. Marinelli, R. Bertram, K. L. Corbin, C. Schildmeyer, and C. S. Nunemaker. Chronic stimulation induces adaptive potassium channel activity that restores calcium oscillations in pancreatic islets in vitro. American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism, 318(4):E554–E563, apr 2020 

Marinelli I, Vo T, Gerardo-Giorda L, Bertram R, Transitions between bursting modes in the integrated oscillator model for pancreatic β-cells, Journal of Theoretical Biology, 454 (2018), pp. 310– 319.

Kroos JM, Marinelli I, Diez I, Cortes JM, Stramaglia S, Gerardo- Giorda L, Patient-specific computational modeling of cortical spreading depression via diffusion tensor imaging, International Journal for Numerical Methods in Biomedical Engineering, 33(11):e2874 (2017).

Marinelli I, van Lier A, de Melker H, Pugliese A, van Boven M, Estimation of age-specific rates of reactivation and immune boosting of the varicella zoster virus, Epidemics 19 (2017), pp. 1–12.