The Center for Genomic Science of IIT@SEMM applies modern genomic technologies towards a better understanding of complex biological processes and diseases, with particular emphasis on Cancer.
The Center is located within the IFOM-IEO Campus in Milan, one of the largest and most vibrant cancer research communities in Europe. The Center provides state-of-the art technological platforms for functional as well as structural genomics, and benefits from all the infrastructure, technological platforms and didactic activities already present in the IFOM-IEO Campus. Our PhD program is integrated with that of SEMM, the European School of Molecular Medicine.
The mission of our Center is to identify changes in the genome that underlie the development of cancer, as well as its susceptibility to therapeutic intervention. Our general aim is to reduce pathological traits into their molecular components, which might correspond to disease markers or potential targets for pharmacological intervention. We will exploit these molecular markers and targets in order to build up strategic programs for disease prevention, early detection and treatment.
The Center hosts the Genomic Science research line. Science activities are divided in three main branches:
We study the function and regulation of non-coding transcripts (microRNAs – miRNAs, and long non-coding RNAs – lncRNAs), with a particular focus on how regulatory RNAs shape the identity and properties of mammalian cells. We are particularly interested in i) the role played by degradation mechanisms in miRNA regulation and the interplay with RNA targets (Target-Mediated miRNA degradation - TDMD), both in physiology and cancer; ii) key transcriptional and epigenetic circuitries that are mediated by noncoding RNA (miRNA and lncRNA) and able to determine the identity and plasticity of epithelial cells; iii) RNA-based agents with diagnostic or therapeutic potential amenable to clinical use.
We are studying how transcription factors regulate gene expression by using next generation sequencing strategies and genetically modified animal models. We are focusing on (i) the identification of transcription factor networks high-jacked by oncogenes during cell transformation, (ii) pharmaco-genomic studies to understand the molecular basis and mechanism of action of small molecules targeting transcriptional complexes and epigenetic regulators, (iii) understanding how oncogenic transcription affect genome stability.
We employ an interdisciplinary approach, based on mathematical modeling of cutting edge genomics data, to study the dynamics of transcription (including the synthesis, processing and degradation of RNAs). Specifically, we aim at deciphering (i) how transcriptional dynamics are influenced by RNA modifications and chromatin-associated factors, and (ii) how they are altered in cancer.