Research at DBSV - Biotechnology and Life sciences

The research focus of the Dipartimento di Biotecnologia e scienze della vita – DBSV concerns the well-being of humans, animals and the environment. In particular, the Biological Sciences and Technologies Section promotes innovative strategies in the most advanced sectors of industrial, biomedical, diagnostic, animal, plant, microbial, cellular and molecular biology and biotechnology also aimed at the production of goods and services, while the Medical and Surgical Sciences Section carries out clinical and research activities with the aim of improving the patient’s well-being.

The focus of the research is on biological sciences and technologies that assist the breeding of fish for use in agri-food products. Studies have attempted to alter the intestinal microbiota of fish through diet with a physiological-nutritional, nutraceutical, and metagenomic approach, with the goal of enhancing fish production performance, immune defenses, and the nutritional quality of the finished products intended for human consumption. Additionally, the research project examines micro- and nanoplastic pollution from the perspective of aquaculture by tracking potential plastic particle occurrences along the production chain and analyzing their effects on fish health and product quality.

Genciana Terova – full professor
Federico Moroni – postdoc
Imam Hasan – PhD student

Group website:
Keywords:Fish gut microbiota; Fish nutrigenomics; Freshwater and marine aquaculture and related services; Animal biotechnologies; Sustainable aquaculture; Circular economy; Feed formulation; Micro- and nanoplastics.
ERC sectors: LS9_10 Veterinary and applied animal sciences
Collaborations: University of Milan Bicocca; University of Turin; Porto Conte Ricerche, Sardinia; Parco Tecnologico Padano, Lodi; Italbiotec, Milan; University of Messina, Sicily; VRM, Naturalleva, Verona;Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (SP); University of Porto; (PT); University of Algarve (PT); Aquaculture Institute of Torre de la Sal CSIC (SP); University of Stirling (UK); University of Helsinki (FI); University of Wageningen (NL); University of Ghent (BE); Ifremer of Palavas (F); INRA (F); Volcani Center-Agricultural Research (Israel); University of Idaho (USA); University of Southern Illinois (USA); Columbus University (Ohio, USA); Kerala University (India); Zakho University (Iraq); University of Tirana (Albania); IRTA (SP).

The main research interests of Marzia and Emanuela focus on the study of the antiproliferative effect of new drugs and compounds of natural origin on tumor cell lines, with particular attention to the mechanisms of action of these compounds. Furthermore, they are also interested in the role of hypoxia and the tumoral microenvironment in the response of cancer cells to drug treatment.
In collaboration with the Chemistry and Photobiology group (prof. Enrico Caruso), they study the photodynamic effects of newly synthesized photosensitizing agents and, in collaboration with the Institute for the Organic Synthesis and Photoreactivity (CNR – Bologna, dott. Greta Varchi e dott. Claudia Ferroni), they also study the anticancer effects of nanoparticles functionalized with different drugs. Furthermore, for several years they have been collaborating with the Università del Piemonte Orientale (prof. Mauro Ravera e dott. Elisabetta Gabano) in the field of the synthesis and characterization of new Pt(IV) derivatives. They also collaborate with prof. Francesco Caruso at the Vassar College, USA, studying the antineoplastic effects of curcumin derivatives and other natural-origined compounds.

Marzia Bruna Gariboldi – associate professor
Emanuela Marras

The main interest of the unit is the investigation on light- based antimicrobial and anti-biofilm approaches (visible light alone or combined with photosensitizers) and the effects of photo-oxidative stress on model microorganisms.
Furthermore, thanks to  different collaborations, the potential of nanomaterials and natural compounds from animal and plants are also considered.

Viviana Orlandi – associate professor 
Fabrizio Bolognese – technician

Key words: Antimicrobial photodynamic therapy (aPDT), aBL (antimicrobial Blue Light), biofilm, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, antimicrobials
ERC sectors: LS6_11 Prevention and treatment of bacterial infections; LS6_7 Microbiology
We collaborate with:  Department of Biotechnology and Life Science, University of Insubria, Varese (Italy); Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Insubria, Varese (Italy); Institute for Organic Synthesis and Photoreactivity, CNR, Bologna (Italy); Department of Science and Techology of Pharmaceuticals, University of Torino (Italy); Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Health Science, University of Torino (Italy); Department of Industrial Engeneering,  University of Padova (Italy); Nephrology, Dialysis and Kidney transplantation Unit, Department of translational Medicine, University of eastern Piedmont “A. Avogadro”, Maggiore della carità University Hospital, Novara (Italy); Department of Restorative Dentistry, Araraquara School of dentistry, UNESP, San Paolo, (Brasi); Department of Dermatology University Hospital Regensburg Franz-Josef, Regensburg (Germany); University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague (Czech Republic).

Ian Marc Bonapace
Maria Giovanna de Marino
Michele Zocchi
Ramesh Gandusekar
Monica Mancini 

Giovanni Bernardini 
Rosalba Gornati
Roberto Papait
Marina Borgese
Elettra Musolino
Federica Gamberoni

Our laboratory is dedicated to advancing research on the structural and functional aspects of membrane proteins, particularly those implicated in the reuptake of neurotransmitters, nutrients, and divalent cations (e.g., SLC1, SLC6, SLC11, and SLC15) in the brain and gastrointestinal tract. Employing a multidisciplinary approach, we integrate methodologies from electrophysiology, molecular biology, and optical techniques to unravel the intricate structure-function relationships inherent to these proteins. Furthermore, our research encompasses the investigation of neurotransmission mechanisms, including the exploration of the involvement of ligand-gated ion channels in Parkinson's disease and epilepsy pathology.

  • Elena Bossi – Associated professor (Principal Investigator)
  • Cristina Roseti - Associated professor 
  • Chiara d’Agostino - PhD Students
  • Bhatt Manan Juggbu – Post doc
  • Angela Di Iacovo – PhD Students
  • Tiziana Romanazzi - Collaboratore
  • Giulia Casoli - Studente

Group website:

ERC Sector: LS1 Molecules of Life: Biological Mechanisms, Structures and Functions (LS1_ 2,  LS1_7), LS4 Physiology in Health, Disease and Ageing (LS4_1 Comparative Physiology), LS5 Neuroscience and Disorders of the Nervous System (LS5_1 Neuronal cells LS5_2 Glial cells and neuronal-glial communication; LS5_3 Neural development and related disorders)

Keywords: Solute Carrier, SLC6, SLC1, SLC15, Heterologous expression, membrane protein membrane transport, Electrophysiology, Two -electrode Voltage Clamp, Neurotransmitter transporter, Nutrient transporter, Ion Channels, Microtransplantation technique.

Italian Coollaborator: Tiziano Verri Università del Salento (LE), Cesare Indiveri, Università della Calabria Laura Civiero Università di Padua, Carla Perego e Michela Castagna University of Milan, Sandra Imbrogno, Università della Calabria, Annamaria Tonazzi CNR Bari.
International Collaborators: Sandra Perez and Marcal Pastor Anglada University of Barcelona Spain, Beatriz Lopez Corcuera, Universitas Autonoma de Madrid, Aurelio Galli University of Birmingham Alabama USA, Mar Huertas Texas State University, Christine Ziegler University of Regensburg-Germany, Thomas Stokner and Harald Sitte- Medical University of Vienna-Austria, Pertine Wellendorh University of Copenhagen, Andre Bazzone and Rocco Zelotti, Nanion Munich Germany. Ivar Ronnestad Department of Biology, University of Bergen, Bergen 5020, Norway.

Our interests are focused on studying synaptic function, neuronal excitability and neuronal networks involved in the genesis of neurological and psychiatric diseases. We use patch-clamp electrophysiology and extracellular field recordings in brain slices

Lia Forti – assistant professor (P.I.)
Lara Barile – BSc student

Keywords: Neuronal physiology, Electrophysiology, Synapse, Membrane excitability, Stress

ERC sectors: LS5: Neurosciences and Neural Disorders: neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, neurological and psychiatric disorders

Collaborations: Maurizio Popoli, Università degli Studi di Milano; Laura Musazzi, Università di Milano-Bicocca; Charlotte Kilstrup-Nielsen, Università dell’Insbria

Through the Research Center for Clinical Ethics, it carries out research, collaborates with Italian and international institutions, and offers training activities at a local, national and international level in the field of clinical ethics. It promotes the clinical ethics service in hospitals and in the local area.

Mario Picozzi – Chair of Research Center for Clinical Ethics - CREC
Elena Ferioli – Scientific Coordinator of Research Center for Clinical Ethics - CREC
Silvia Ceruti – PhD student
Emanuele Mangione – PhD student
Chiara Rossetti – PhD student
Marta Vassallo – PhD student
Francesca Reato – PhD student

Keywords: Clinical ethics, ethics consultation, organ transplantation, end-of-life issues, beginning of life issues, GenEthics, NeuroEthics, Biobanks, Informed Consent, Research Integrity, Ethics Committee

ERC Sector: LS7_11

We collaborate with: European Association of Centers of Medical Ethics (EACME); European Clinical Ethics Network (ECEN); Interdisciplinary Group for Clinical Bioethics and ethical consultation in the health care system (GIBCE); Nord Italia Transplant program (NITp); Italian Academy of Osteopathic Medicine (AIMO).

Use of model insects for the development of immunomodulation strategies for the treatment of infectious diseases.
The classic therapeutic approach to infectious diseases involves the administration of drugs that work by restricting the proliferative potential of the pathogenic microorganism. Despite its enor-mous success, this strategy is not without serious limitations, including the selection of multi-resi-stant strains.
Immunomodulatory drugs act in a direct way on the immune system of the host: a) implementing the effectiveness of the effector mechanisms; b) directing the response towards the effector me-chanisms most appropriate to the specific context; c) mitigating the inflammatory damage to host tissues that often accompanies immune responses. Immunomodulatory drugs may thus represent an important adjunct to the use of classical chemotherapeutics, although, at present, they represent a largely unmet promise.
Our group studies a model of host/parasite interaction in insects. Nematodes of the genus Steiner-nema are capable of infecting lepidopteran larvae, specifically we use Galleria mellonella larvae. These nematodes are assisted by entomopathogenic bacteria of the genus Xenorhabdus that induce in the larva a deep state of immunodepression, thus a septic pathology. In our model , in fact, Xe-norhabdus nematophila evades the immune response of the host by acting simultaneously at mul-tiple levels.
Immunomodulation strategies aimed at altering the course of the infection, improving the "progno-sis" of the infection, are being studied in our laboratory. To this end the targets of therapeutic in-tervention are
a) pathway of the biosynthesis of eicosanoids
b) pathway of phenol-oxidase and melanization
c) pathway of nitric oxide synthetase

Since insects and mammals share some fundamental pathways of immune response activation, it is likely that the immunomodulation results obtained in our model can be at least partially translated to mammals. Moreover, this type of studies aims to investigate the possibility of using animal mo-dels such as insects, alternative to mammals, in order to limit the use of the llatter in experimentation.

Stefano Giovannardi
Andrea Barbaro de Lerma

The research group deals with the relationship between biodiversity and functionality in plants, from the level of single organisms to that of plant populations and communities, up to ecosystems. The activities are developed both above- and belowground, the main research lines concern:

- the root system of plants with particular reference to the dynamics and morphology of fine roots and the architecture of structural roots. These characteristics are related to the influence of abiotic, anthropic factors, and environmental stress as well as the addition of organic amendments (biochar) to the growing media. Furthermore, this research line deals with the identification of the molecular factors controlling the development of the root system and the secondary bioactive metabolites in the rhizosphere. Finally, in addition to model plants such as Arabidopsis and Populus, the research activities also concern species of agronomic and forestry interest;

- morpho-functional traits, especially the leaf organ, for the definition of plant functional types and strategies. These analyses are devoted to the identification of the functional properties of plant communities in relation to the characteristics of the environment, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. Moreover, these research activities find application in the management and conservation of nature, with particular reference to Natura 2000 habitats, but also in the management of contaminated sites and in the valorisation of the biomass of invasive alien species (IAPS);

- morphological and molecular traits concerning the development of plant organisms in controlled conditions with LED lighting systems

Bruno Enrico Leone Cerabolini - Full Professor
Donato Chiatante - Emeritus Professor
Antonino Di Iorio - Associate Professor
Antonio Montagnoli - Associate Professor
Peter Beatrice - Research assistant
Michele Dalle Fratte - Research assistant
Tsvetana Todorova Mincheva - Research assistant
Alex Ceriani - Ph.D. student
Alberto Danieli - Ph.D. student
Gustavo Agosto - Research fellow
Nicola Aimini - Research fellow
Alessandro Fava - Research fellow
Alessio Miali - Research fellow


Keywords: Allelopathy, Analysis of plant communities, Biochar, Biodiversity, Conservation, Environmental stress, Fine roots, Innovative agronomic and forestry applications, Invasive alien plant species, LED, Natura 2000 network, Phytoremediation, Plant strategy, Plant Functional traits, Root architecture, Root exudates.
ERC Sectors: LS3, LS8, LS9, PE10
We collaborate with:  Lombardy Region, Regional Agency for Agriculture and Forestry Services (ERSAF), Autochthonous Flora Center (CFA), Italian Environment Fund (FAI), Lombardy Foundation for the Environment (FLA), Alpinia Botanical Garden in Stresa (VB), Natural Sciences Museum of Brescia, University of Tartu, University of Milan, University of Molise, National University of Mongolia, "Mediterranean" University of Reggio Calabria, USDA Forest Service Moscow (ID) United States, IBIMET-CNR Florence, University of Lorestan (Iran)

Researches deal with the study and application of psychopathology knowledge in the legal fie

Jutta Maria Birkhoff

Keywords: psychopathology, technical consulting

ERC sectors: SH4_2 - Personality and social cognition; emotion

The Human Genetics Unit has long been involved in the functional and structural characterization of the human RNASET2 tumor suppressor gene, encoding the only human member of the highly conserved family of T2 extracellular RNases. The protein encoded by this gene has been consistently reported to be endowed with a marked oncosuppressive activity in several experimental models both in vitro and in vivo, whose mode of action is carried out with both cell-autonomous and non-cell autonomous mechanisms. As for the latter, it has further been shown to involve a functional cross-talk between cancer cell-derived RNASET2 and several component of the tumor microenvironment.

Roberto Taramelli
Francesco Acquati
Annarosaria de Vito

Keywords: Tumor suppressor gene, T2 ribonuclease, Tumor microenvironment, Anticancer immune response

ERC research sectors: LS2_1 genomics, comparative genomics, functional genomics; LS2_2 transcriptomics; LS2_6 molecular genetics, reverse genetics and RNAi; LS2_8 epigenetics and gene regulation; LS3_2 cell biology and molecular transport mechanisms; LS3_3 cell cycle and division; LS3_2 cell biology and molecular transport mechanisms; LS3_4 apoptosis; LS3_11 cell genetics; LS4_6 cancer and its biological basis; LS6_1 innate immunity and inflammation; LS6_4 immunosignalling; LS6_12 biological basis of immunity related disorders 

We are actively collaborating with: IRCCS Humanitas – Rozzano, Italy; Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori – Milano, Italy; Istituto Nazionale per la cura dei tumori –(IST) Genova, Italy; Laboratorio Interdisciplinare di Tecnologie Avanzate – CNR, Segrate, Italy; IRCCS Multimedica Milano, Italy; Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy; IRCCS C. Mondino – Pavia, Italy; Universitè de Lyon, France; Institut NeuroMyoGène, Lione, France; Institute for Systems Bioligy, Seattle, USA; Universidad of Barcelona, Spain

Research conducted in the Laboratory of Immunology and General Pathology is focused on the following areas:

  • Biology of Natural Killer (NK) cells and innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) in solid tumors (prostate, pancreas, colorectal, lung, kidney, breast).
  • Study of tumor microenvironment and tumor angiogenesis as targets of (immuno)therapy and prevention.
  • Role of Natural Killer cells, neutrophils and T cells in autoimmune diseases (Grave's disease, Hashimoto's disease).
  • Role of immunomodulatory activity of RNASET2 molecule in cancer and autoimmune diseases.
  • Role of innate immunity (monocytes/macrophages, neutrophils) and inflammation in cancer and cardiovascular disease (atherosclerosis, diabetes).
  • Study of immune response in cancer patients, post-SARS-CoV-2 vaccination.
  • Cancer stem cells (CSCs).

Experimental activities involve the use of cell biology (cell lines and primary cultures), biochemistry, and molecular biology approaches. The research group has developed significant experience in 'multiparametric flow cytometry (up to 18 markers simultaneously) applied to immunology.

In addition, the group has well-established experience in using murine models in biomedical research.

Lorenzo Mortara (Associate Professor)
Douglas Noonan (Associate Professor)
Antonino Bruno (Assistant professor-RTD-B)
Raffaella Bombelli (Laboratory technician)
Martina Cucchiara (PhD student)
Francesca Orrù (Medicine student)
Cristian Rubuano (MSc student)
Chiara Cali (MSc student)
Serena Croci (BSc student)
Giulia Caleffi (BSc student)

Keywords: Tumor microenvironment, Natural Killer cells, Innate Lymphoid Cells, Neutrophils, Monocytes/Macrophages, Inflammation, Angiogenesis, Immunotherapy.
ERC sectors:LS6_1 Immunità innata; LS4_6 cancro e sue basi biologiche; LS6_12 Basi biologiche dei disturbi legati all'immunità.

Dr. Matteo Gallazzi, Innate Immunity Laboratory, IRCCS MultiMedica, Milano.
Dr. Angelo Naselli, Urology Unit, IRCCS MultiMedica, Milano.
Dr. Riccardo Ricotta, Division of Medical Oncology, IRCCS MultiMedica, Milano.
Prof. Francesco Bertolini, Laboratory of Hematoncology, European Institute of Oncology (IEO), Milano.
Prof. Antonio Inforzato, Humanitas Clinical Institute, Rozzano.
Dr. Santiago Gonzales, Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), Università della Svizzera Italiana, Bellinzona, Svizzera.
Prof.ssa Valeria Poli, Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Health Sciences, Università di Torino, Torino.
Dr. Alsessandro Poggi, SSD Molecular Oncology and Angiogenesis, IRCCS Ospedale Policlinico San Martino, 16132 Genova.
Dott.ssa Giovanna Chiorino, Tempia Foundation, Biella.

Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences, and Department of Biosciences, University of Milan, Milan Italy; BioC-CheM Solutions Srl Gerenzano, Varese Italy; Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies, Salento University, Lecce Italy; Enea, Casaccia, Rome Italy; Coastal marine environment institute, CNR, Messina Italy; Water Research Institute, CNR-IRSA, Verbania Italy; Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Wädenswil Switzerland; Department of Biotechnology, University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague Czech Republic; Department of Molecular Microbiology, John Innes Centre, Norwich UK; Microbial Genomics and Biotechnology Center for Biotechnology (CeBiTec), Universität Bielefeld, Bielefeld Germany; Division of Physical Chemistry, Ruđer Bošković Institute, Zagreb Croatia; MIGAL Galilee Research Institute, Kiryat-Shmona Israel; Departamento de Química Orgánica y Farmacéutica Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid Spain; Department of Genetics and Biotechnology, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Lviv Ukraine; Instituto de Biotecnología y Biología Molecular (IBBM) Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, La Plata, Buenos Aires Argentina; Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin Germany.The research activity is focused on different aspects of insect development and physiology for the development of biotechnological applications. The main topics addressed are: 1) the use of dipteran larvae for the bioconversion of organic waste and protein production for feedstuff and development of biomaterials; 2) the identification of molecules for the development of bio-inspired strategies for the control of pest insects; and 2) the study of cell death processes during metamorphosis in holometabolous insects.
Another line of research is conducted on in vivo and in vitro models of Metazoans in the following areas: 1) study and characterization of cells and molecules involved in innate immune response in annelids; 2) study of the basic mechanisms of cell differentiation and molecular regulation of tissue regeneration in annelids and cnidarian; 3) amyloidogenesis and innate immune response in annelids.

Gianluca Tettamanti – full professor
Annalisa Grimaldi – associate professor
Nicolò Baranzini - assistant professor
Daniele Bruno - technician 
Aurora Montali - postdoc
Sara Caramella - PhD student
Laura Pulze - PhD student

Webpage: Lab Invertebrate Biology

Keywords: Circular economy; Development; Innate immunity; Insect biotechnology; Invertebrates; Regeneration

ERC panels: LS3_7 Cell death and autophagy; LS9_1 Applied biotechnology; LS8_2 Biodiversity, conservation biology, conservation genetics; LS6_1 Innate immunity in animals and plants; LS3_1 Morphology and functional imaging of cells and tissues

Collaborations: Università degli Studi di Milano; Università degli Studi di Padova; Università degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II”; Politecnico di Milano; KU Leuven; Cairo University; South China Agricultural University; Università degli Studi di Palermo; Università degli Studi di Bologna; Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, University of Lille; Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1; University of Pecs; Aarhus University.

The focus of the group is on genetic engineering approaches applied to fermentation processes of microorganisms of industrial relevance, aimed at producing secondary metabolites (antibiotics), bioactive peptides and proteins.

Flavia Marinelli – full professor
Francesca Berini – researcher
Elisa Binda - technichan
Oleksandr Yushchuk - postdoctoral fellow
Melissa Bisaccia - postdoctoral fellow
Luca Mellere -  PhD student
Letizia Bartolone - PhD student
Lorenzo Tonin – PhD student
Davide Malacarne – PhD student

Group’s website

Keywords: Microbial biodiversity, Fermentation, Antibiotics, Glycopeptides, Antibiotic resistance, Actinomycetes, Heterologous expression, Metagenomics, Bioinsecticides

ERC sectors: LS9_1 Applied biotechnology (including transgenic organisms, applied genetics and genomics, biosensors, bioreactors, microbiology, bioactive compounds). LS9_2 Applied bioengineering, synthetic biology, chemical biology, nanobiotechnology, metabolic engineering, protein and glyco-engineering, tissue engineering, biocatalysis, biomimetics. LS6_7 Biological basis of prevention and treatment of infection (e.g. infection natural cycle, reservoirs, vectors, vaccines, antimicrobials)

Our collaborations: Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences, and Department of Biosciences, University of Milan, Milan Italy; BioC-CheM Solutions Srl Gerenzano, Varese Italy; Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies, Salento University, Lecce Italy; Coastal marine environment institute, CNR, Messina Italy; Water Research Institute, CNR-IRSA, Verbania Italy; Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Wädenswil Switzerland; Department of Biotechnology, University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague Czech Republic; Department of Molecular Microbiology, John Innes Centre, Norwich UK; Microbial Genomics and Biotechnology Center for Biotechnology (CeBiTec), Universität Bielefeld, Bielefeld Germany; Division of Physical Chemistry, Ruđer Bošković Institute, Zagreb Croatia; MIGAL Galilee Research Institute, Kiryat-Shmona Israel; Departamento de Química Orgánica y Farmacéutica Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid Spain; Department of Genetics and Biotechnology, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Lviv Ukraine; Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin Germany; Vita Salute San Raffaele University, Milan Italy; Fondazione Istituto Insubrico Ricerche per la Vita, Gerenzano Italy; ASST Sette Laghi, Varese Italy; Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Perugia, Perugia Italy; Department of Biology and Wildlife, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks US; Department of Biotechnology and Biosciences, University of Milan Bicocca, Milan Italy.

Our group aims to study the molecular and genetic bases of human diseases, with a particular interest in studying cancer and in particular lung cancer.

The two main projects are:

1. the characterization of PRODH gene regulation and of the role that the encoded enzyme, proline dehydrogenase,  plays in modulation of specific cellular phenotypes. We study how modulation of its expression in human adenocarcinoma cell lines impacts on phenotypes such as cell proliferation, cellular senescence and apoptosis.  We also aim to study the effect of modulating proline dehydrogenase on the tumour microenvironment and in drug resistance.
2. Identification and validation of microRNAs as circulating biomarkers to be applied to screening and early diagnosis of lung cancer.  For this study we use droplet digital PCR, but we are also interested in developing novel diagnostic tests to measure microRNA directly in serum and plasma. 

Paola Campomenosi – researcher
Raffaella Cinquetti – technician
Priscilla Chiofalo – PhD student
Elena Berno – PhD student

Keywords: Regulation of gene expression; disease genes; biomarkers; molecular genetics; microRNA. 

ERC SECTORS: LS4_12 Cancer; LS2_14 Genetic diseases;  LS1_3 DNA and RNA biology; LS2_4 Gene regulation; LS2_14 Genetic diseases; LS3_2 Cell senescence, cell death, autophagy, cell ageing; LS3_3 Cell behaviour, including control of cell shape, cell migration; LS3_5 Cell signalling and signal transduction, exosome biology; LS7_2 Medical technologies and tools (including genetic tools and biomarkers) for prevention, diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of diseases

Collaborations: Ospedale di Circolo e Fondazione Macchi-Varese; Università di Verona; Multimedica, Milano; Cibio, Università di Trento; UMPH Cluj-Napoca, RO.

Charlotte Kilstrup Nielsen
Isabella Barbiero
Roberta de Rosa

Ongoing research lines in the lab are aimed at evaluating: 1) The therapeutic potential of some phytocannabinoids in animal models of autism; 2) The role of the endocannabinoid system in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders; 3) The ability of cannabidiol to modulate the long-term negative consequences of adolescent delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol exposure on the brain; 4) the role of the endocannabinoid system in adolescent brain maturation/remodeling.

Tiziana Rubino
Erica Zamberletti
Marina Gabaglio
Mattia Vimercati

keywords:  endocannabinoid system, autism, adolescent brain,  psychiatric disorders, phytocannabinoids

ERC Sectors:

  • LS7_4 Pharmacology and pharmacogenomics (including drug discovery and design, drug delivery and therapy, toxicology)
  • LS5_5 Neural bases of cognitive processes (e.g. memory, learning, attention)
  • LS5_6 Neural bases of behaviour (e.g. sleep, consciousness, addiction)
  • LS5_8 Psychiatric disorders (e.g. affective and anxiety disorders, autism, psychotic disorders)

Collaborations: Università degli Studi di Cagliari; Università La Sapienza di Roma e Fondazione Santa Lucia; Università degli Studi di Padova; Università degli Studi di Firenze

The team deals with the synthesis of second and third generation photosensitizers belonging to the families of porphyrins, phthalocyanines and BODIPYs for their subsequent application in in vitro photodynamic therapy both in the anticancer and antibacterial fields.

Enrico Caruso – Associate Professor
Miryam Chiara Malacarne – PhD

Keywords:Photodynamic Therapy, Photosensitizers, synthesis of organic substances

ERC sectors:PE5_11 Biological chemistry; PE5_17 Organic chemistry; PE5_18 Medicinal chemistry; LS7_3 Pharmacology, pharmacogenomics, drug discovery and design, drug therapy; LS3_4 apoptosis.

Collaborations:CNR di Bologna; CNR di Messina; Istituto Mario Negri; Università Statale di Milano; John Moores University di Liverpool, Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research.

Fabio D’Angelo
Giorgio Pilato
Michele Francesco Surace

Paolo Castelnuovo
Maurizio Bignami
Paolo Battaglia
Davide Locatelli

The main research of the Plant Physiology group is focused on the response of plants to different abiotic stresses, such as high or low temperatures, water shortage, metal pollution. In recent years the group has also worked on the interaction between plants of agronomic interest and beneficial soil microorganisms. It also studies intra- and inter-plant communication mediated by volatile organic compounds. The studies are carried out through physiological and molecular analyzes, in particular proteomics and phosphoproteomics.

Marcella Bracale – full professor
Candida Vannini – associate professor
Guido Domingo – researcher
Eleonora Davide – PhD


Keywords: plants, abiotic stress, biotic stress, proteomic, phosphoproteomic

ERC sectors: LS2_3 proteomics; LS3_8 signal transduction; LS9_5 food sciences

Collaborations: Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS); University of Milan; University of Bari; University of Turin; University of Urbino; Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome; IRD, Cirad, Univ. Montpellier, Plantes Microorganismes Environnement Interactions (IPME); CNR ITB of Milan; CNR DiSBA of Rome; CNR IPSP of Florence; CNR IPSP of Portici; Centro Tessile Cotoniero S.p.A, Varese; KCS biotech, Vergiate, Varese.

Our Unit of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is the headquarter of the post-graduate Medical Residency program in Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery of the University of Studies of Insubria, Varese.

Clinical activity is mainly focused on:

  • Oncological surgery of melanocytic and non-melanocytic skin tumours (both the demolition and reconstructive components)
  • Post-oncological reconstruction (in the context of cutaneous, cervico-facial and breast neoplasms)
  • Post-traumatic reconstruction
  • Burn management and post-acute reconstruction
  • Body remodeling in post-bariatric surgery outcomes
  • Paediatric plastic surgery (with the exception of malformative plastic surgery)
  • Aesthetic and cosmetic surgery (mainly oculo-palpebral surgery, body-countouring and breast cosmetic surgery)

Main research interests are related to:

  • Morphoanatomical studies on the distribution of cutaneous perforating vessel in various body anatomical regions
  • Study of the biology of adipose tissue in the context of regenerative medicine and surgery
  • Clinical observational and review studies (in the field of breast reconstruction, hand surgery and microsurgery)

Our training program also includes active participation in cadaver labs with the aim of refining the development of new surgical techniques and developing new research insights.

The teachings offered to our Residents conforms to the European standards required to Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery Residency Schools with the aim of training Professionals in line with the advances in our discipline and capable of entering a broader clinical-academic scene.

Our team is made up of Full Professor L. Valdatta and Associate Professor M. Cherubino (currently on leave of absence), and as medical staff Dr. F. Tamborini, Dr. D. Di Giovanna, Dr. M. Corno. As residents, assigned to different locations within the education network, there are Dr. L. Garutti, Dr. E. Bascialla, Dr. F. Paganini, Dr. A. Tellarini, Dr. S. Cozzi, Dr. F. Buttarelli, Dr. V. Fasoli, Dr. C. Bonetti, Dr. G. Cocchieri, Dr. S. Matarazzo, Dr. B. Corsini, Dr. G. Del Vecchio and Dr. B. Agnelli.

Luigi Valdatta
Mario Cherubino

The research activity of the group concerns the synthesis and characterization of nanostructured polymer materials. In particular, it focuses on the mechanistic investigation of polymerization reactions for the synthesis of polymers having controlled microstructure as well as on the study of structure-properties relationships. Moreover, we are interested in the design and synthesis, via sustainable catalysis, of polymers derived from molecules obtained from industrial waste and/or renewable sources.
L. Izzo and O. Santoro are guest editors for the Special Issue “Polymer Materials for Application in Biomedical Fields" in collaboration with the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
L. Izzo is the Scientific Referent for the Synthesis and Characterization of Innovative Polymer Materials project as part of the collaboration with Prometeon Tyre Group S.r.l.

Lorella Izzo – associate professor
Francesco Della Monica (Assistant Professor – RTDb)
Orlando Santoro (Research Fellow – RTDa)
Aniello Vittore (PhD Student)

Keywords: Polymer Chemistry, Sustainable Catalysis
ERC sectors:PE5_7 (Biomaterials)/PE5_1 (Structural properties of materials), PE5_14 (Homogeneous Catalysis) PE5_15 (Polymer chemistry)
Collaborations: University of Toulouse (France), Università degli Studi di Salerno, Università degli Studi di Siena, Università degli Studi di Pavia, Università degli Studi del Sannio, Università degli Studi di Bologna

The activities of our research group have been conducted on Population Genetics of forest trees and other plant species since several decades. Neutral genetic molecular markers are being been used to conduct large-scale surveys about the distribution of the genetic variability among different Italian populations of chestnut tree and of the Mediterranean shrub Cistus albidus, with a special emphasis on the conservation aspects of the work.

The results are analyzed with the aim of answering questions about the genetic structure of the species, to answer demographic issues and to model ecological speciation using a Bayesian approach. Phylogenetic relationships are also investigated at the molecular level.

Giorgio Binelli – associate professor
Gianluca Lombardo – post-doc
Marta Cavallini – PhD student

Keywords: Population Genetics - Evolution - Forest trees - Molecular markers – Conservation Genetics

ERC sectors: LS8_2 Biodiversity, conservation biology, conservation genetics – LS8_3 Population biology, population dynamics, population genetics – LS8_5 Evolutionary genetics

Collaborations: Centro Nazionale Carabinieri Biodiversità di Peri (VR); Unité de Recherche Écologie des Forêts Méditerranéennes, INRAE, Avignon; Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche, Geologiche e Ambientali, Università di Bologna.

The main focal points of the research activity of the Protein Factory 2.0 are:

- the investigation of enzymes and whole metabolic pathways, in particular the ones involved into the metabolism of D-amino acids, their regulation and dysfunctions related to relevant human diseases;
- the analysis of D-amino acids in human serum and fluids, to validate alterations in their levels as early biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease;
- the production of improved variants (generated by protein engineering) of recombinant proteins useful in several areas of biotechnology: human health (protein therapeutics), bio-based industry (biocatalysis), biorefineries (lignin valorization), bioremediation and circular economy processes (removal of pesticides, plastics and toxins);
- the analysis of paclitaxel levels in human blood after drug-coated ballon treatment.

Loredano Pollegioni – full professor
Luciano Piubelli – associate professor
Gianluca Molla – associate professor
Silvia Sacchi – associate professor
Elena Rosini – researcher
Laura Caldinelli – technician

Group website:

Keywords: D-amino acids; recombinant proteins; protein engineering; neuromodulation; biocatalysis; biorefineries; biosensors; structural bioinformatics; enzymology; lignin valorization, plastic degradation

ERC sectors: LS1_2 general biochemistry and metabolism, LS1_5 protein synthesis, modification and turnover, LS1_11 biochemistry and molecular mechanism of signal transduction, LS9_1 applied genetic engineering, transgenic organisms, recombinant proteins, biosensors, LS9_9 applied biotechnologies, bioreactors, applied microbiology, LS5_2 neurophysiology.

Collaborations: Ca' Foscari University of Venice; Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), Lausanne, Switzerland; CMIC, Polytechnic of Milan; CNR-IRSA, Water Research Institute, Verbania; Cryo-EM Lab, Dept. of Biosciences, University of Milan; DAAIR, D-Amino Acid International Research Center, Gerenzano; Dept. of Medicine and Surgery, University of Insubria, Varese; Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA-CNR), Bari; IRCCS Galeazzi Orthopedic Institute, Milan; Lab of Behavioural Neuroscience, Ceinge Biotecnologie Avanzate, Naples; LuMIn, Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, ENS Paris-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, France; Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA; McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Neurology Unit and Vascular Surgery Unit, Circolo and Fondazione Macchi University Teaching Hospital, Varese; University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Caserta; University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA; University of Milan; University of Milan-Bicocca; University of Naples Federico II; University of Parma; University of Pavia; University of Rome "Tor Vergata".

The main research focus of the group is Clinical Pharmacology (design, analysis and meta-analysis of clinical trials), mainly in the field of urology/nephrology.

Giampaolo Perletti PI

Keywords: clinical trials, cohort studies, case-control studies, metanalysis, systematic reviews

ERC sectors: LS7_3 Pharmacology, pharmacogenomics, drug discovery and design, drug therapy

Collaborations:  Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium; Tzaneion General Hospital, Athens, Greece; Fatebenefratelli-Sacco Hospital, Milano, Italy