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Elsa Zacco

Research fellow

Research Line

Non-coding RNAs and RNA-based therapeutics


IIT Central Research Labs Genova



Dr. Zacco received her Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnologies from the University of Milano-Bicocca (IT) in December 2007 and her Master’s degree in Molecular Biotechnologies from an inter-university curriculum between University of Milano-Bicocca and University of Birmingham (UK) in April 2010. She then spent one year as a contractor researcher in the same University before joining a Doctorate program in May 2011 at the Freie Universität Berlin (DE), in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces (DE). During her Ph.D., supervised by Prof. Koksch and Prof. Seeberger, she worked across chemistry, molecular biology and cell biology to develop delivery systems for vaccine and gene therapy applications. She received her Doctoral degree in Natural Sciences, specialty Medicinal Chemistry, in October 2015. Dr. Zacco was then awarded a Newton International Fellowship by the Royal Society for a post-doctoral position with Prof. Pastore at the Dementia Research Institute within the King’s College London (UK), during which she specialised in the investigation of protein aggregation and the role that RNA may play in it. Her research supported the thesis that RNA plays a central role at post-transcriptional regulation and often determines the fate of ribonucleaoprotein complexes. In January 2019 she received the MINDED Fellowship from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie group and she moved to the Italian Institute of Technology in Genova (IT) to continue developing her expertise in understanding the structural and functional interplay between proteins and RNA in disease.


Dr. Zacco’s MINDED project focuses on the development of RNA therapeutics designed for the interaction with specific protein/mRNA involved in neurological disorders: she is currently screening RNA aptamers for the prevention of the aberrant aggregation of proteins such TDP-43 and alpha-synuclein and for the degradation of expanded variants of ARX mRNA. This work is performed in close collaboration with the group of Stefano Gustincich and Gian Gaetano Tartaglia.

MINDED has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 754490.


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