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Francesca Cella

Affiliated Researcher

Research Line

Nanoscopy & NIC@IIT


IIT Central Research Labs Genova


Via Morego 30, Genova
+39 010 2896 320
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Francesca Cella Zanacchi is currently a researcher at the IItalian Institute of Technology in Italy in the Nanophysics department. Previously, she worked as a Postdoc at the Institute de Ciències Fotòniques (ICFO) in Spain and as post-doctoral fellow in the Nanoscopy group at the Italian Institute of Technology. She graduated in Physics at the University of Genoa (Italy) in 2006 and in 2010 she accomplished her PhD studies in Physics (University of Genoa). She was a visitor scientist at EMBL (Heidelberg) in 2008 and at University of Maine (USA) in 2009. In December 2013 she joined the Single Molecule Biophysics group at University of Frankfurt as a short term EMBO fellowship. She works in the bioengineering/biophysics field and her research activity is focused on the design, realization and utilization of optical imaging techniques to study biomolecules at the molecular level in thick biological samples and tissues. Her work is mainly  addressed to the study of biological molecules to investigate cell functioning using super-resolution microscopy, single molecule localization techniques (PALM, GSDIM), single molecule tracking, single plane illumination microscopy (SPIM), confocal, multiphoton fluorescence microscopy, nanostructured model systems and advanced fluorescence microscopy techniques (FRAP). She worked as a working package leader for the RENVISION European project (FP7-ICT-2011-9 (NBIS) # 600847) and she is active as member of several scientific societies and as reviewer for several international scientific journals. 



Oct 2016 - present               Researcher Nanophysics Dept, Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Genoa (Italy)



Oct 2016 –Dec 2017            Visiting scientist The Institute of photonics sciences (ICFO), Barcelona (Spain).

May 2015 – Oct 2016           Post doc AFIB Group, The Institute of photonics sciences (ICFO), Barcelona (Spain).     

Jul 2014 – May 2015            Researcher Nanophysics Dept., Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Genoa (Italy)

Dec 2013 – Feb 2014           EMBO short term fellowship University of Frankfurt, Frankfurt (Germany) 

Jan 2010 – Jul 2014             Post Doc Nanophysics Dept (Nanoscopy Group), Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Genoa (Italy)

Aug 2009 – Dec 2009           Visiting research associate University of Maine, Orono, Maine (USA).

Aug 2008 – Dec 2008           Visiting scientist Light Microscopy Group – EMBL, Heidelberg, Germany



2007-2009                            Ph.D. Degree in Physics, Department of Physics, University of Genoa, Italy


2006                                      MSc. Degree  in Physics, Department of Physics, University of Genoa, Italy


International/national  Prizes and Awards:

2018                                      International travel award - Biophysical society meeting (S.Francisco, USA)

2012                                      TR35-Young innovators award Ed.2012 (Innovators Under 35) MIT T. Rev.)

2012                                      NEST Prize per la Nanoscienza Ed. 2012

2013                                      International travel award - Biophysical society meeting (Phyladelphia, USA)

2011                                      Best poster award at BIOS 2011 SPIE Photonics West Conference, 2011

2006                                      Prize for Degree Thesis in Physics: GIC Prize (Italian society of cytometry)

Activity within European projects: 

Working Package leader within the EU project RENVISION (Retina-inspired ENcoding for advanced VISION tasks) awarded within the initiative of Future Emerging Technologies: Neuro-Bio-Inspired Systems (NBIS).


Patent submitted:

Reference no: EP17382394.9 "Method for quantifying protein copy number" 



 Main research projects:

  • 3D super-resolution imaging techniques based on light sheet microscopy for thick biological samples
  • Novel approaches for quantitative single molecule localization based on DNA nanotechnologies (DNA origami)
  • Quantitative studies at the synaptic level using single molecule localization techniques: from cells to tissues




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