Bologna, Italy
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Invited Speakers' Biosketches

Andrea Ballabio (Naples, Italy)


Andrea Ballabio is the founder and director of the Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine (TIGEM) in Naples, Italy. He is also Professor of Medical Genetics at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Naples “Federico II” and Visiting Professor at both Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and at the University of Oxford, UK. Prof. Ballabio’s research interests are the elucidation of the biological mechanisms underlying genetic diseases and the development of innovative therapeutic approaches. Prof. Ballabio’s team identified numerous genes whose mutations cause human inherited diseases, leading to the discovery of their pathogenetic mechanisms. Prof. Ballabio's current research focuses on the transcriptional regulation of lysosomal biogenesis and autophagy, on the role of the lysosome as a signaling hub, and on the mechanisms underlying lysosomal storage disorders and common neurodegenerative diseases. He has published over 280 papers in international scientific journals. Prof. Ballabio was the President of the European Society of Human Genetics and Council member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). He is a recipient of an Advanced Investigator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC). He has received numerous national and international awards for research and culture, among which the 2007 Award of the European Society of Human Genetics. In 2007 he was received the “Knighthood of the Italian Republic” by the President of Italy.

Stefano Bertuzzi (Bethesda, MD, USA)


Dr. Bertuzzi is the Executive Director of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), the largest cell biology society in the world, and one of the most prestigious scientific organizations; the Society is a highly influential advocacy group in Washington, DC advocating for support of scientific research. ASCB also provides its members training and opportunities for effectively accelerating their careers. In his position, Dr. Bertuzzi is responsible for all strategic and organizational decisions of the Society. ASCB counts around 9,000 members, including 31 Nobel Prize Laureates, 36 Lasker Award recipients, and eight recently awarded prestigious Breakthrough Prizes. Before joining ASCB, Bertuzzi was a scientific executive at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) where he was the Director of the Office of Science Policy, Planning, and Communications. In this capacity, Dr. Bertuzzi was responsible for planning and implementing a comprehensive agenda for national mental health research. Previously, Dr. Bertuzzi was responsible for return on investment analyses in the Office of Science Policy, Office of the NIH Director, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in the US government. In this position, Dr. Bertuzzi advised the NIH Director on a wide range of health science policy matters and was co-Director of the White House Initiative STAR METRICS to capture the impact of Federally-funded research. Dr. Bertuzzi has contributed to reforms of biomedical research systems in foreign countries. Dr. Bertuzzi has been the NIH lead in the bilateral working group with the European Commission (EC) to achieve a funding reciprocity policy between the EC and the NIH. Dr. Bertuzzi has widely contributed to the NIH revision of the peer review system and to the development of a public access policy to NIH funded publications. He is the recipient of several NIH Director’s awards, and other national and international awards. Dr. Bertuzzi is a regular speaker at national and international events. Dr. Bertuzzi received a Master’s degree in Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biotechnology at the Catholic University of Milan (Piacenza campus), in Italy. After a postdoctoral training in the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology at the Salk Institute in San Diego, CA., he became a tenured Associate Professor at the Dulbecco Telethon Institute in Milan, Italy. He has authored numerous research publications in neurobiology and science policy, published in top scientific journals. His research activities led to the discovery of a novel family of homeobox genes involved in the regulation of neuronal axon guidance in the visual system. He lives in Chevy Chase, MD in the outskirts of Washington, DC with his wife, and Economist, Elena; his nine-year old son, Davide, and his four-year old daughter, Celeste.

Barbara Cannon (Stockholm, Sweden)


Barbara Cannon took a B.Sc. in biochemistry at London University and a Ph.D. in physiology at Stockholm University. After postdoctoral studies in Ottawa, she returned to Stockholm and she is professor of physiology there. Already during her doctoral thesis, she studied the mechanism of uncoupling of brown fat mitochondria as a model system to understand mitochondrial energy utilization. Subsequently, her interests turned more to the physiology of the tissue, concerning both molecular and integrative aspects. The group has contributed in recent years to noted developments in the field, including reviewing radiology literature for a metabolic audience to point to the presence of active brown adipose tissue in adult man, the developmental relationship between brown adipocytes and myocytes, the requirement for keeping mice at thermoneutral environmental temperatures to humanize them, and the induction of brown-like adipocytes in classical white adipose tissue depots. She has had numerous honorary appointments nationally and internationally, including President of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Saverio Cinti (Ancona, Italy)


Saverio Cinti is medical doctor and full professor of anatomy in School of Medicine at University of Ancona since 1986. Actually he is Director of the Obesity Center at the same University. The main research interest is focused since 35 years on adipose tissues in relation to the medical problems of obesity and T2 diabetes. He published more than 250 papers (pub med) and his H index is 49 (Scopus Jan 2015). In 1999 published the book: The Adipose Organ. He published 14 chapters on obesity-related books. The most important observations were on the physiologic reversible reprogramming of white and brown adipocytes. White-brown reprogramming opened new perspectives for future treatment of obesity and related disorders. Most recently he discovered the white-pink reprogramming (mammary adipocytes can reversibly convert into glandular cells producing milk during pregnancy and lactation) with new perspectives in the field of breast cancer. He also discovered the cause of chronic low-grade inflammation of obese adipose tissue describing the death of adipocytes (by pyroptosis) and consequent crown-like formations (CLS) providing one pathogenetic link between obesity and T2 diabetes. In 2008 was awarded of Blaise Pascal Medal by the European Academy of Sciences and in 2013 was awarded of Wasserman Prize by the European Association for The Study of Obesity.

Marina de Bernard (Padua, Italy)


Dr Marina de Bernard is Associate Professor of General Pathology at the University of Padua, Italy. She studied Biology at the University of Padua and gained her Msc in 1993. She completed her PhD in Biology and Cellular & Molecular Pathology in 1998. In 2000, she was visiting scientist at the EMBL (Heidelberg, Germany) in the laboratory of Dr. M. Zerial. From 1993 to 2002, she worked on the mechanism of action of virulence factors produced by H. pylori in the group coordinated by Prof. Cesare Montecucco at the Dept of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padua. In 2002, she moved to the Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine (VIMM) in Padua, where she started a new independent research line focussed on the host-pathogen interaction. From 2005 to 2013, she was Group Leader of the Host-Pathogen Interaction Unit at the Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine (VIMM) in Padua. In 2014, she moved to the Dept of Biology, University of Padua where she leads the Unit of General Pathology. The major research interest of Marina de Bernard’s lab is the characterization of bacterial products endowed with immunomodulant properties with the aim of disclosing novel molecular and cellular mechanisms of immune response to bacterial pathogens giving chronic infections in humans (H. pylori, T. pallidum). She is interested also on the practical side, i.e. the development of novel immune therapeutic strategies based on the administration of these bacterial products.

Elisabetta Dejana (Milan, Italy)


Elisabetta Dejana worked as post doc in Canada, at Mc Master University in Hamilton and at Mario Negri Institute in Milan. From 1993 to 96 she moved to Grenoble, (France) to direct an INSERM Unit and CEA Laboratory at the Center of Nuclear Energy (CENG). She then took part in the creation of a new research institute supported by the Italian Foundation for Cancer Research (IFOM, FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology). In this Institute she currently directs a research laboratory dedicated to the study of vascular biology both in embryo development and in pathological conditions such as cancer. During her research activity Elisabetta and her group made major contributions to the characterization of the architecture of endothelial cell to cell junctions. These structures play a crucial role in the maintenance of vascular integrity, in the control of vascular permeability and tumor angiogenesis. She teaches at the University of Milan as full professor of General Pathology but, more recently, she also accepted a full professor position at Uppsala University, Sweden, to perform advanced research on angiogenesis. She is the author of more of 320 research articles published in international Journals (H index 94), she is also a member of the Editorial Board of several international scientific Journals and Committees and she received several international prizes during her research career that include the Laurea Honoris Causa in Medical Sciences at Helsinki and Frankfurt Universities.

Valentina Fossati (New York, NY, USA)


Valentina Fossati is a group leader at the The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Laboratory. She is recipient of the Helmsley investigator award for early career development. She obtained her PhD in 2008 from the University of Bologna, where she worked on human mesenchymal stem cells with Prof. Bagnara. She moved to New York, at Mount Sinai School of Medicine as a visiting student during her PhD, and then she remained as a postdoctoral fellow. Under the supervision of Dr. Snoeck she worked on the development of the immune system, focusing on B lymphocytes and on the generation of thymic epithelial cells from embryonic stem cells. A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 2009 shifted her research interest to better understanding this disease and in particular its neurodegenerative component. Bringing the stem cells expertise to the MS field, Dr. Fossati developed a research plan that focuses on modeling MS with human cells, understanding genetic susceptibility by studying patient-specific cells and, ultimately, drug discovery and cell replacement therapies targeting neurodegeneration and de-myelination.

Elaine Fuchs (New York, NY, USA)


?Elaine Fuchs is the Rebecca Lancefield Professor in Mammalian Cell Biology and Development at The Rockefeller University, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Fuchs has published over 300 papers and is renowned for her research in skin biology, its stem cells and its associated human genetic disorders. Fuchs’ pioneered “reverse genetics,” a method of starting with protein and working one’s way up to the genetic basis of the human disorder caused by its mutations. Applying this strategy, Fuchs has elucidated the genetic bases of a number of skin disorders, including cancers. Her current research focuses on stem cells, the long-lived cells that allow our tissues to replace dying cells and repair wounds. Using skin as a model, Fuchs explores the properties of stem cells that allow them to both replenish themselves (self-renew) and also maintain and regenerate tissues. She studies how resident stem cells communicate and respond to their local neighbors (their “niche”) and how these signals prompt them to adjust their program of gene expression and begin to make tissue, and how new signals instruct them when to stop once enough tissue has been made. By studying these basic properties of stem cells, Fuchs’ team has made major contributions towards understanding how tissues repair injuries and how abnormalities in stem cell behavior can lead to cancers. She’s devised and employed innovative and imaginative approaches to biomedical research for over three decades. Recently, her team developed technology to conduct genome-wide RNAi screens in mice for oncogenic regulators of growth.
Fuchs received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Princeton University. After her postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in 1980. In 2002, she relocated to The Rockefeller University. Fuchs’ awards and honors include the Presidential Young Investigator Award, Richard Lounsbery Award from the National Academy of Sciences, Novartis-Drew Award for Biomedical Research, Dickson Prize in Medicine, FASEB Award for Scientific Excellence, Beering Award, National Medal of Science (highest US honor, bestowed by Obama), L’Oreal-UNESCO Award, Madison Medal, Passano Award, Albany Prize (with Shinya Yamanaka and James Thompson), March of Dimes Prize (with Howard Green), Kligman-Frost Leadership Award (Society of Investigative Dermatology), Lifetime Achievement Award(American Skin Foundation), Pasarow Award for Cancer Research, and Pezcoller Award for cancer research. In 2015, she will receive the EB Wilson Award, the highest honor given to a cell biologist in the United States. Fuchs is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, European Molecular Biology Organization (foreign member) and the inaugural group of 100 American Association for Cancer Research Fellows. She holds honorary doctorates from Mt. Sinai/New York University School of Medicine and from the University of Illinois. Fuchs is past President of American Society of Cell Biology, International Society for Stem Cell Research and Harvey Society, and is on both the Board of Governors of the New York Academy of Sciences and the IOM Council. She has trained over 25 graduate students and 100 postdoctoral fellows, most now at major academic universities and medical schools throughout the world.

Stephen C. Harrison (Boston, MA, USA)

Stephen C.

Stephen C. Harrison is the Giovanni Armenise-Harvard Professor in Basic Biomedical Sciences at Harvard Medical School, and Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He obtained his B.A. from Harvard in 1963 and his Ph.D. (Biophysics) from Harvard in 1968. He has served on the Harvard faculty since 1971. Between 1972 and 1996, he was Chair of the Board of Tutors in Biochemical Sciences, Harvard’s undergraduate program in biochemistry; he was Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Faculty of Arts & Sciences) from 1988-1992. For many years, his research laboratory was linked closely with that of the late Don C. Wiley. Harrison has made important contributions to structural biology, most notably by determining and analyzing the structures of viruses and viral proteins, and also by crystallographic analysis of protein/DNA complexes, and by structural studies of protein-kinase switching mechanisms. The initiator of high-resolution virus crystallography, he has moved from his early work on tomato bushy stunt virus (1978) to the study of more complex human pathogens, including the capsid of human papillomavirus, the envelope of dengue virus, and several components of HIV. He has also turned some of his research attention to even more complex assemblies, such as clathrin coated vesicles and kinetochores. Dr. Harrison is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the American Philosophical Society, and a foreign member of EMBO, and a Foreign Member of the Royal Society. He received the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize (with Don Wiley and Michael Rossmann) in 1990, the ICN International Prize in Virology in 1998, the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize (with Michael Rossmann) in 2001, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Distinguished Achievement Award in Infectious Disease Research in 2005, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Gregori Aminoff Prize in Crystallography in 2006 and the UCSD/Merck Life Sciences Achievement Award, was the Hans Neurath Lecturer, at the University of Washington, Seattle in 2007, received the William Silen Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award in 2011, was the Merrifield Memorial Lecturer at the Rockefeller University in 2014, the Cynthia Chan Memorial Lecturer at UC Berkeley and the Widom Lecturer at Northwestern University in 2015. Dr. Harrison will receive the Welch Award in Chemistry in 2015.

Marja Jäättelä (Copenhagen, Denmark)


Marja Jäättelä is the head of the Cell Death and Metabolism Unit and the Center for Autophagy, Recycling and Disease at the Danish Cancer Society Research Center in Copenhagen and holds a professorship at the Copenhagen University. She is an elected member of EMBO and the Danish Royal Academy of Sciences and serves in numerous international scientific advisory boards, editorial boards and evaluation panels. Early in her career, Marja Jäättelä identified heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) as a general survival protein with oncogenic properties and set her mind to define the molecular mechanism by which it promotes cell survival. This task required the “reinvention” of the lysosomal cell death pathway, which subsequently became the major focus of her studies. Following long-term ambitious development of novel techniques to study lysosomes with several interdisciplinary approaches, her group identified lysosomal sphingolipid metabolism as an Hsp70 target and a key regulator of lysosomal stability. As a “by-product”, her group identified Hsp70 as a putative remedy for lysosomal storage disorders, and together with Thomas Kirkegaard, she founded Orphazyme (, a successful biotechnology company that conducts promising pre-clinical development of Hsp70 and Hsp70-inducing drugs for the treatment of these devastating diseases. Her current research focuses on lysosome-and autophagy-targeting drugs suitable for cancer therapy. For this purpose her group has developed numerous innovative technologies and conducted screening programs to reveal comprehensive functional, proteomic and lipidomic data sets regarding the regulation, function and composition of lysosomes and autophagosomes.

Tomas Kirchhausen (Boston, MA, USA)


I received my Ph.D. in Biophysics from the Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas and my post-doctoral training at Harvard where I am now Professor of Cell Biology. Our research focuses on the processes that mediate and regulate the movement of membrane proteins throughout cells. In particular our studies have help define molecular mechanisms that underlie the cell's sorting machineries mediated by the clathrin pathway, the principal route responsible for receptor-mediated endocytosis and for secretion, a route critical for reuptake of membrane at synapses, and a mode of entry usurped by many viral and bacterial pathogens. These biological phenomena have importance for the understanding of such diseases as cancer, viral infection and pathogen invasion, Alzheimer's, as well as other neurological diseases. We also study how during cell division, cells control their size and organelle architecture. Our work has been characterized by use of emerging technologies -- from the early days of molecular cloning to contemporary live-cell imaging. We use the tools of x-ray crystallography, NMR, electron cryomicroscopy, and single-molecule biophysics to create a "molecular movie" of clathrin-mediated endocytosis, and in this way relate these molecular events to functional properties of the surfaces of living cells. We have helped defined the structure, interactions, and assembly-disassembly mechanisms of clathrin and many of its associated proteins, through studies extending over three decades, including the first X-ray crystal structure determination of clathrin and the AP-1 endosomal clathrin adaptor, and the first high resolution cryo-electron microscopy of a complete clathrin coat. We also use frontier optical-imaging modalities including super-resolution total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy and lattice light sheet fluorescence microscopy with single molecule sensitivity. Our fluorescent high resolution imaging microscopy techniques are geared to gather in 3D and real time, quantitative, “single-molecule” and "single-object" data to examine cellular membrane remodeling processes from in vitro reconstituted systems or from living cells. Focusing on clathrin-coated pits and coated vesicles, for example, we tracked them while they are assembling, recruiting cargo, membrane scission, budding and uncoating. The fluorescent probes include clathrin, AP-2, auxilin, dynamin and other molecules expressed in gene-edited cells as well as fluorescently tagged cargo. With these type of studies we integrate molecular snapshots obtained at high resolution with real time in vitro and live-cell processes, to generate ‘molecular movies' aimed towards obtaining new frameworks for analyzing some of the molecular contacts and switches that participate in the regulation, availability, and intracellular traffic of the many molecules involved in signal transduction, immune responsiveness, lipid homeostasis, cell-cell recognition and organelle biogenesis.

Benoît Kornmann (Zurich, Switzerland)


Benoît Kornmann is Swiss National Science Foundation Professor of Organelle biology at the Institute of Biochemistry, ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). He is interested in the architecture of the cell: how intracellular structures acquire shape and function. His lab studies cellular organelles to understand how they communicate with each other and with the cytoskeleton to fulfill their function. A particular focus of Benoît Kornmann's research is the mitochondrion, both in yeast and human cells.
Benoît Kornmann received a PhD in biology from the University of Geneva in 2006. During this time, he worked with Ueli Schibler on the wiring of the circadian clock in peripheral tissues. He discovered that clock-controlled genes come in two types: those that are controlled by the local clock of the peripheral tissue, and those that are controlled by systemic cues. His interest for organelles rose as he went for a postdoc at the University of California at San Francisco to work with Professor Peter Walter. During this time he discovered that a protein complex held the Endoplasmic Reticulum and the mitochondria tethered together. In 2011 he received a professorship from the Swiss National Science Foundation and started his laboratory at the Institute of Biochemistry of the ETH Zurich. Since then, his research has been geared towards elucidating the function of this interorganelle tethering.
Benoît Kornmann was awarded an ERC starting grant in 2013.

Tilo Kunath (Edinburgh, United Kingdom)


Tilo Kunath obtained his PhD from the University of Toronto in 2003 investigating novel stem cell systems. His postdoctoral studies at the Institute for Stem Cell Research at the University of Edinburgh were focused on neural induction and differentiation of mouse and human embryonic stem (ES) cells. He has run his own laboratory in the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Edinburgh since 2007, where he has pioneered the use of patient-specific induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technologies to establish robust models of Parkinson’s. He also has a major focus on driving forward the use of human ES and iPS cells for use in cell replacement therapies for Parkinson’s.

Angelo Lombardo (Milan, Italy)


Angelo Lombardo is Assistant Professor of Tissue Biology at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University and Project Leader at the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy in Milan, Italy. He obtained his PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology in 2012 from the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University and the Open University (Milton Keynes, UK) working with Prof. Luigi Naldini on the development of innovative gene transfer technologies based on artificial nucleases. His early studies were the first to report targeted genome editing in therapeutically relevant cell types, including human embryonic stem cells and hematopoietic progenitors. Dr. Lombardo’s major contribution to the field of targeted genome editing further extends to the characterization of the human AAVS1 locus as a genomic safe harbor for integration of therapeutic transgenes, the development of pioneering approaches to assess the specificity of artificial nucleases, and exploitation of cell reprogramming and targeted gene correction to rescue disease-causing mutations in patients’ derived iPSCs. Recently, in collaboration with Prof. Luigi Naldini, he provided the first demonstration of targeted gene correction in human long-term repopulating hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), paving the way for safe application of these promising technologies to HSC-based gene therapy. Building on these achievements, and thanks to his continuous interest in developing and applying improved molecular tools for regenerative medicine, Dr. Lombardo’s research now focuses on innovative RNA-guided nucleases and targeted epigenetic therapy, which exploits artificial transcriptional repressors to permanently silence genes of therapeutic relevance. He is also using these tools and the ensuing cell and mouse models to study basic principles of gene regulation and transmission of epigenetic information. Dr. Lombardo’s awards include the Excellence in Research Award from the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT) and the Young Investigator Award from the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ESGCT). Dr. Lombardo has been invited as a speaker to several venues, including the ESGCT, ASGCT, and to the Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Eran Meshorer (Jerusalem, Israel)


Prof. Eran Meshorer obtained his Ph.D. in Molecular Neuroscience at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and performed his postdoctoral studies at the National Cancer Institute (NIH, USA) where he studied epigenetic regulation of embryonic stem cell (ESC) neuronal differentiation. Since his return to Jerusalem in 2007, as an Alon Fellow, he has been active in identifying the mechanisms that support self-renewal, pluripotency and neuronal differentiation in ESCs, focusing on chromatin plasticity. His group combines state-of-the-art live imaging with genomic approaches and computational biology to study ESC differentiation, somatic cell reprogramming, and neurodegenerative disease modeling in human pluripotent cells. He has also recently co-pioneered the field of paleo-epigenetics (Science, 2014), opening up the door to reconstruct DNA methylation maps of our ancient ancestors. Prof. Meshorer is the recipient of several recent awards including the the Elkes Award for Psychobiology (2010), The European Research Council (ERC) Award (2011), the Klatchky Prize for the advancement of the frontiers of science (2012), the Hestrin prize of the Israeli Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2012) and the Sir Zelman Cowen Award of the Hebrew University and the University of Sydney, Australia for biomedical research (2013).

Michele Pagano (New York, NY, USA)


Michele Pagano received his doctorate in Medicine and a PhD in Molecular Endocrinology in 1990 from the Federico II University in his native Napoli, Italy. He was subsequently a post-doctoral fellow at EMBL, Heidelberg, Germany (1990-92), before following his mentor, Giulio Draetta, to Mitotix Inc., Cambridge, MA (1992-96). He joined the NYU School of Medicine in September 1996 and was tenured in 2003. Dr. Pagano has been the director of the Growth Control Program of the NYU Cancer Institute from 2000 to present. Since 2005 he is the May Ellen and Gerald Ritter Professor of Oncology. He has received many prestigious grants including a MERIT Award from the National Cancer Institute (2006) in recognition of his outstanding achievements in cancer biology. In 2008, he was appointed as an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Pagano has published more than 160 leading papers and has been invited to present seminars at more than 170 conferences, universities, and research institutions in the USA and abroad. Dr. Pagano’s current research focuses on the kinases and ubiquitylating enzymes that control cell proliferation and how deregulation of these machineries contribute to malignant transformation.

Pier Giuseppe Pelicci (Milan, Italy)

Pier Giuseppe

Pier Giuseppe Pelicci is Director of Research of the European Institute of Oncology (IEO) in Milan since 2015, chairman of the Department of Experimental Oncology of IEO since 1995 and full professor of general pathology at the University of Milan since 2004. He is also scientific director of the SEMM Foundation (European School of Molecular Medicine) and president of TTFactor Srl, the technology transfer company of IEO and IFOM (FIRC Institute for Molecular Oncology). He is cofounder and scientific advisor of the biotech holding Genextra which controls five biotech companies (Congenia, DAC, Tethis, Intercept and EryDel). At IEO, Pelicci is responsible for the strategic planning of the institute research programs, including basic, translational and clinical research. Pelicci has made seminal contributions to the study of leukaemia (identification/functional characterization of the PML-RAR and mutated-NPM oncogenes) and to the definition of the molecular basis of its targeted treatment with retinoic acid and histone deacetylase inhibitors. He has also contributed to the elucidation of the molecular basis of aging and aging-associated diseases (Shc protein family). More recently, he has been focusing on the biological and molecular characterization of normal and cancer stem cells, on the mechanisms of DNA damage, and on relapse acquired chemoresistance in acute myeloid leukaemia, using stem-cell based preclinical and clinical models of leukaemia and breast cancer, next generation sequencing technology and RNA interference approaches. His laboratory is also studying the effects of metabolism and specific checkpoint activation on tissue homeostasis, aging and cancer risk (novel signalling pathway involving p53, p66Shc and reactive oxygen species, risk factors such as overweight and obesity). Pelicci is member of different national and international societies, and was honoured with a number of prestigious awards (including several international prizes). He has an extensive publication record (445 peer-reviewed manuscripts, including 377 original research papers, 68 invited reviews and 29 book chapters) with H index = 100. Dr Pelicci is holder of 10 granted patents.

Mario Pende (Paris, France)


Mario Pende received a Master diploma at Genova University, followed by a PhD diploma at the Basel University in Switzerland in 2001. His main research contribution has been the identification of signal trasduction elements controlling growth, metabolism, ageing depending on nutrient availability. He is currently a Research Director at Necker Institute, Inserm, Paris Descartes University. He was awarded ERC grants in 2008 and 2014.

Elena Rainero (Glasgow, United Kingdom)


Elena Rainero obtained her PhD in 2010 from the University of Piemonte Orientale (Novara, Italy), where she worked in Prof Andrea Graziani’s lab on the role of the lipid kinase Diacylglycerol kinase ? in the regulation of epithelial cell migration and polarity. During her PhD, she was awarded an EMBO short term fellowship to visit the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow (UK), and then she remained there as a postdoctoral researcher. Under the supervision of Prof Jim Norman, she worked on the role of integrin trafficking in the control of cancer cell migration and invasion. She will soon move to the Department of Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield, where she will set up her independent group. Her research will focus on the role of extracellular matrix trafficking in epithelial cell migration and polarisation.

Maria Rescigno (Milan, Italy)


Maria Rescigno graduated in Biology in 1990 at the University of Milan. From 1991 to 1994 she worked at the University of Cambridge, UK, in the Department of Biochemistry, as a visiting scholar. From 1995 to 1999, she worked at the National Research Council of Milan where she received her PhD in Pharmacology and toxicology in 1999. From 1999 to 2001 she worked at the University of Milano-Bicocca where she specialized in Applied Biotechnology. Since 2001 she is the director of the Dendritic cell biology and immunotherapy Unit at the Department of Experimental Oncology at the European Institute of oncology. She was the first to show that dendritic cells in the gut actively participate to bacterial uptake. Her major field of interest is the development of new immunotherapy strategies to fight cancer. She authored more than 100 publications in high impact journals including Nature Immunol, Immunity, J. Exp. Med., Science TM. She was nominated EMBO young investigator in 2007. Since 2008 she is visiting professor at the University of Oslo. In 2011 Maria Rescigno won the Avon prize as ‘Woman symbol of the city of Milan’ and was elected EMBO member. From 2014 she is Associate Professor at the University of Milan.

Terry Riss (PROMEGA Corporation)


Dr. Terry Riss started the Cell Biology program at Promega Corporation in 1990 and has held several R&D and Project Management positions. Dr. Riss managed development of cell viability, cytotoxicity, apoptosis, and protease assay systems and also lead efforts to identify and promote multiplexing of cell-based assays to determine the mechanism of cell death. Dr. Riss now serves as Global Strategic Marketing Manager, Cell Health involved in outreach educational training activities. Dr. Riss regularly participates in NIH study sections reviewing HTS grants and is co-editor of the cell culture assays section of the Assay Guidance Manual hosted by NIH.

Randy Schekman (Berkeley, CA, USA)


Dr. Randy Schekman is a Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. As a graduate student at Stanford University, he studied the enzymology of DNA replication with Arthur Kornberg. His current interest in cellular membranes developed during a postdoctoral period with S. J. Singer at the University of California, San Diego. When he joined the faculty at Berkeley, he developed a genetic and biochemical approach to the study of eukaryotic membrane traffic, which reveals how proteins enter and move between membrane-bound compartments of cells. Among the honors he has earned are the Gairdner International Award, the Albert Lasker Award in Basic Medical Research in 2002, and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2013 - which he shared with James Rothman of Yale University and Thomas Südhof of the Stanford School of Medicine – for their discoveries of the mechanism regulating vesicle traffic, a major cellular transport system. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, a Foreign Associate of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, a Foreign Associate of The Royal Society, London, and an Honorary Academician of the Academia Sinica. In 1999, he was elected President of the American Society for Cell Biology. In 2002 he was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the Annual Reviews of Cell and Developmental Biology. From 2006 – 2011, he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2011, he was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the open access journal, eLife, sponsored by the HHMI, The Wellcome Trust/UK and the Max Planck Society. The microscope that he bought from money earned from odd jobs as a junior high school student now resides in the Nobel Museum in Stockholm.

Luca Scorrano (Padua, Italy)


The work of Luca Scorrano has changed classical tenets in the field of apoptosis and mitochondrial pathophysiology. He discovered the process of mitochondrial cristae remodeling that allows complete cytochrome c release and apoptosis. Since 2003, his lab made seminal contributions in mitochondrial dynamics and biology, from the discovery of a molecular staple holding cristae junctions tight and its exploitation in vivo, to the role of ER calcium in apoptosis and the first molecular bridge between ER and mitochondria, to how mitochondria control autophagy, to the link between respiratory chain assembly and cristae shape; and to the paradigm-shifting notion that development is controlled by mitochondrial fusion via Notch1 signaling. Luca received several Prizes and Awards (including the 2006 Eppendorf European Young Investigator, the 2011 Chiara D’Onofrio and the 2013 European Society for Clinical Investigation Award) and was elected EMBO Member in 2011. His papers are published in the most prestigious Journals and are widely cited. He is an Editorial Board member of EMBOJ, CDD, Cardiovasc Res, BBA-Mol Cell Res, Biol Open. After 7 years as Professor at the University of Geneva (CH), since 2013 he is Chair of Biochemistry and Director of the Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Padova (IT).

Giuseppe Testa (Milan, Italy)


Giuseppe Testa holds an MD from the University of Perugia, a PhD from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, and an MA in Health Care Ethics and Law from the University of Manchester. A European Research Council (ERC) awardee, Giuseppe Testa is Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Milan and Principal Investigator at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan where he heads the Laboratory of Stem Cell Epigenetics focusing on epigenetic regulation, cell reprogramming and disease-modeling. Key accomplishments include the development of new genome engineering technologies, the characterization of novel histone demethylases required for neural development, the functional dissection of the epigenetic mechanisms underlying reprogramming to pluripotency and the first reprogramming-based models of human diseases caused by symmetric gene dosage imbalances. He has published in leading peer reviewed journals including Nature Genetics, Cell, Cell Stem Cell, Cell Reports, Stem Cell Reports, Nature, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Communications, Science, PLoS Genetics, Biosocieties, Bioethics, Science as Culture, Journal of Medical Ethics, New Genetics and Society. His first book ‘Naked genes: Reinventing the Human in the Molecular Age’, co-authored with Helga Nowotny, published in German, English and Italian and currently under translation into Russian, was widely reviewed in the leading press, including Die Zeit, Der Spiegel, Nature, The Financial Times, Il Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica. He organized the major international conferences, including ‘The Times of Cloning: Historical and Cultural Aspects of a Biotechnological Research Field’ at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, ‘Reprogramming Cell Fate’ at the European Institute of Oncology and the interdisciplinary summer school at the EMBL ‘Deconstructing and Reconstructing Life: from Classification to Design’. He serves on the advisory boards of several research networks and academic societies, including International Affairs and the Ethics/Public Policy Committees of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), the Working Groups on Standards and Ethics of the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC), the ethics board of the European Bank for induced pluripotent Stem Cells (EBiSC) and the directorship of the Italian Society of Cell Biology and Differentiation (ABCD). He is member of the editorial board of Cell Press journal Stem Cell Reports, of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and of the Journal of Medical Ethics, and is the recipient of several scientific prizes, including in 2003 the Roche Prize for leading bioscientist of the next decade.

Mariella Vicinanza (Cambridge, United Kingdom)


Mariella Vicinanza graduated in 2004 in Medical Biotechnology at University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy. From 2005 to 2012, she joined Dr Antonella De Matteis’ lab at the Department of Cell Biology first at the Mario Negri Institute, S. Maria Imbaro (CH) Italy (2005 to 2009) and subsequently at the TIGEM, Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine, Naples, Italy (2010 to 2012). In 2010, she received her PhD in Life and Biomolecular Sciences, from the Open University PhD programme. Following this, she was awarded a FIRC (Italian Foundation for Cancer Research) fellowship to continue her work in the De Matteis’ lab. During her PhD and postdoctoral research, she worked on the role of phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate 5-phosphatase OCRL1 in endocytic trafficking pathways, focusing on proximal tubular cells (PTCs) dysfunction in Lowe syndrome, a disease caused by OCRL1 mutations, aiming to identify novel therapeutic targets for this condition.
In 2012 she joined, as a Wellcome Trust funded postdoctoral researcher, Prof David C. Rubinsztein’s lab at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, Cambridge, UK. She has recently reported a novel role for phosphatidylinositol 5-phosphate as an autophagy regulator. She is currently investigating further links between autophagy and lipids/phosphoinositides metabolism, while moving towards an independent career in the field.

Roberto Weigert (Bethesda, MD, USA)


Roberto Weigert, Ph.D. is the Chief of the Intracellular Membrane Trafficking Section in the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Weigert got his B.Sc. in chemistry in 1992 at the University of Catania (Italy). He joined the Department of Cell Biology at the Mario Negri Institute (Dr. Alberto Luini), where he studied the mechanism of formation of transport intermediates from the Golgi apparatus. He received his Ph.D. in 2000 from the Open University of London and in 2001 joined the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at NIH as a research fellow in the Laboratory of Cell Biology (Dr. Julie Donaldson). During his fellowship, Dr. Weigert studied the machinery regulating clathrin-independent endocytic pathways. In 2006, he joined the NIDCR as principal investigator, where he has developed subcellular intravital microscopy to study various aspects of membrane remodeling during trafficking events in live animals.

Tom Wileman (Norwich, United Kingdom)


Tom Wileman trained in cell biology and immunology at Washington University and Harvard Medical Schools in the USA between 1982 and 1994. During this period he identified the macrophage mannose endocytosis receptor, cloned T-cell receptor genes and studied protein assembly and degradation in the endoplasmic reticulum. He was awarded Fellowships from the Parker B Francis Pulmonary Research Foundation, the Charles King Trust, the March of Dimes and the Claudia Adams Bar Innovative Cancer Research Award from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He was appointed Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School in 1991. In 1994 he joined the Pirbright Institute in the UK as Head of Immunology where he studied how viruses use cellular organelles to facilitate replication. In 2005 he moved to the University of East Anglia in Norwich as Professor of Molecular Virology to investigate the role played by autophagy in controlling virus replication. His current work is developing mice with conditional tissue-specific expression of autophagy genes to study the impact of autophagy on infection in vivo.


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Registrations & Payments

27 April 2015


17 July 2015

Late registrations will be accepted until 22 July 2015 at a higher fee. See the Information page.


27 April 2015


14 July 2015
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Scientific Committee

Pier Paolo Di Fiore (Chair)
Andrea Ballabio
Francesco Cecconi
Francesco Di Virgilio
Valeria Matranga
Jacopo Meldolesi
Gabriella Minchiotti
Michele Pagano
Ruggero Pardi
Paolo Pinton
Valeria Poli
Rosario Rizzuto
Roberto Sitia


Organising secretariat

Azuleon .:meetings:. email