The Chiara D'Onofrio Foundation was established to honor the memory of Chiara D'Onofrio, who dedicated her brief but intense scientific career to the study of the complex mechanisms of immunology.
The Foundation promotes studies and research in the field of cell and molecular biology and intends to promote an integrated vision of science and philosophy.
The SIBBM supports, together with the Foundation, the Chiara D'Onofrio Award, destined to Italian researchers also working abroad who are below 42 years of age, exactly the age of Chiara when she passed away. This prestigious award recognizes scientific excellence for research in the field of molecular mechanisms of cell growth and differentiation, consists of € 10,000 and is awarded every two years. The winner is decided by the Scientific Committee of the Foundation, which includes the President of SIBBM, and is delivered directly by the President of the Foundation, Dr. Francesco De Leo, during the annual seminar of SIBBM.
The 2019 prize was awarded to Dr. Diego Pasini.
Diego Pasini performed his post doc at the Biotech Research and Innovation Center (BRIC) of the University of Copenhagen, headed by Prof. Helin. Successively, he moved to Milan where he started his own laboratory at the Department of Experimental Oncology (DEO) of the European Institute of Oncology (IEO) as a junior Group Leader, entering a tenure-track program. In 2015, he was appointed as tenured Group Leader at IEO. In 2018 Dr. Pasini also became Associate Professor in Molecular Biology at University of Milan.
His work represents a milestone in the field of epigenetic regulation of transcription, development, stem cell and cancer biology. Since the beginning of his career, he has focused on the mechanisms regulating transcription in a physiological and pathological context, with particular emphasis on their implications in human diseases such as cancer, being thus well recognized in this research field within the intgernational scientific community. The ongoing scientific activities of Prof. Pasini are exploring the epigenetic mechanisms underlying gastrointestinal tumorigenesis and its metastatic potential. Thanks to his knowledge in the field of epigenetics and transcriptomics, together with his extensive expertise in the field of biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, high-throughput genome wide studies and mouse biology, Prof. Pasini has shown a remarkable scientific productivity, authoring 56 publications in peer reviewed journals.
He is supported by several national and international organizations such as AIRC, Fondazione Veronesi and ERC, and he has received several honours, including Young Investigator Grants from EMBO. Over the years, he has established fruitful, long lasting collaborations with renowned scientists around the world.
The 2017 prize was awarded to Dr. Matteo Iannacone.
Matteo Iannacone graduated in Medicine magna cum laude at University of Milan, and performed his PhD in Immunology at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan. From 2001 and 2003 he moved as a post-doctoral fellow in Luca Guidotti and Frank Chisari’s group at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. After that he return back in San Raffaele Institute in Milan as Resident in internal medicine. From 2007-2010 he was a post-doc in Hulrich Von Andrian Lab at Harvard. Since 2010, he is group leader at San Raffaele Scientific Institute where since 2015 isheading the Dynamics of Immune responses Lab.
Iannacone has contributed to the field of anti-viral immune responses, lately making magistral use of intra-vital microscopy techniques. He was the first to show that during hepatitis B virus-associated hepatitis, activated platelets are required to recruit virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes into the liver, contributing to disease severity and viral clearance. Later he discovered a previously undetected B cells boosting activities of bisphosphonates. Recently, making magistral use of Intra vital microscopy, his team is focusing in studying the mechanisms that viruses exploit to interfere with adaptive immune responses opening the possibility to design novel, more rational vaccine and therapeutic strategies.
Throughout his career, he earned many prestigious awards and grants. He has been involved in the organization of several prestigious international meetings on viral immunity among them the 1st European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Sectoral Meeting on Immunology in Bergamo in 2017. He holds an Armenise-Harvard Foundation Carreer Development award, an EMBO Young Investigator Award, and ERC starting and consolidator grants. He is an Invited Section Editor of Current Opinion in Virology.
The 2015 prize was awarded to Dr. Massimiliano Mazzone.
Massimiliano Mazzone graduated in Medical Biotechnology at the University of Turin, Italy, and performed his PhD in Cell Science and Technologies at the Institute for Cancer Research of Torino. In November 2006, he moved to Belgium as EMBO postdoctoral fellow at the University of Leuven, Belgium. Since September 2009, he is heading the Lab of Molecular Oncology and Angiogenesis, at VIB, and he is Professor at the University of Leuven. Mazzone has contributed to the field of oncology understanding the mechanisms of cancer metastasis and to vascular biology identifying a new endothelial cell phenotype, which forms the blood vessel wall in perfused tissues. Since he is independent group leader, his team is focusing in studying the response of inflammatory cells to hypoxic conditions in order to restore blood flow and regulate favorably the immune response in conditions such as cancer and ischemic pathologies. He is author in 65 papers, and has 6000 citations, and 32 of H-index. He has been invited to speak in more than 60 international conferences and holds an ERC starting grant and EMBO Young Investigator Award. He is in the editorial board of several journals and serves as reviewer for more than 20 peer-reviewed journals, and as consultant for different biotech companies.
The 2013 prize was awarded to Dr. Davide Corona.
Davide Corona is Associate Telethon Scientist at the Dulbecco Telethon Institute, Dipartimento STEBICEF, Università degli Studi di Palermo.
He has been a recipient of very prestigious awards such as the Giovanni Armenise-Harvard Foundation Career Development Award (ITALY-USA) in 2005, the HFSPO (Human Frontier Science Program) Career Development Award in 2005 and the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Young Investigator Program Award in 2010. In the last few years he has been recipient as PI of several grants from Telethon, AIRC, MIUR-CNR, EU/ FP7, EMBO, Giovanni Armenise−Harvard Foundation, Human Frontier Science Program. He has also been nominated by the Assessorato della Sanità Regione Sicilia, member of the Commissione Regionale per la Ricerca Sanitaria. His contributions to Epigenetics have been internationally recognized as demonstrated by his excellent publications record.
Davide research interest are chromatin modifications that constitute the epigenetic marks of genomes. Despite the wealth of data concerning the mechanisms of action of chromatin remodelling factors, mainly histone modifying enzymes, relatively little is known about how their activities are coordinated and inherited to regulate chromatin structure, gene expression and other nuclear functions. As an independent investigator Davide got interested in dissecting the regulation of the functional network between ATP-dependent remodelers and covalent modifiers of chromatin. Using the fruit fly as a model system he discovered that remodelers activity is regulated by a variety of evolutionarily conserved covalent modifiers of chromatin, as well as by unanticipated nuclear components including non-coding RNAs. In order to get mechanistic insights into this complex network of regulation his lab is currently working in dissecting the role played by ATP-dependent chromatin remodelling and non coding RNA in the onset and maintenance of stem cell identity and in controlling epigenetic cell memory.
All of this has been achieved in Italy, and working in Institutions located in difficult geographic locations. Davide is spreading enthusiasm for science not only within his own group but at any scientific meeting he is participating showing superb communication skills and altruism.