Our team

Our team focuses on designing in vivo genetic tools to investigate the mechanism whereby cancer cells evade the immune system and resist to therapy.

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Mario Leonardo Squadrito, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Mario Leonardo Squadrito graduated in 2008 at the University of L’Aquila. In 2012, he obtained a PhD degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the San Raffaele University (Milan, IT) and the Open University (UK); in the course of his PhD studies, he identified and characterized of a new microRNA, miR-511-3p, highly expressed in tumor-associated macrophages. In 2012, he joined the EPFL (Lausanne, CH) where he identified a mechanism whereby miRNAs are sorted to microvesicles and trasfer to acceptor cells. He also designed new strategies to genetically reprogram TAMs to activate immune functions. He also invented a platform to exploit circulating microvesicles as a source of tumor antigens for innovative tumor vaccines. In 2018, he has been appointed project leader in the Unit of Targeted Cancer Gene Therapy, lead by Prof. Luigi Naldini, at the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy, Milan, Italy.

Thomas Kerzel

Thomas Kerzel, M.Sc.

PhD Student

Thomas Kerzel obtained his Master’s degree in biochemistry at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. During his studies he focused on the development of targeted lentiviral vectors and AAVs for in vivo gene therapy with the purpose of generating CAR T cells in vivo. Hereby, cell specificity is achieved by fusing single chain antibodies or DARPins to the vector surface. In his PhD thesis at Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Thomas is involved in the development of an LV-based in vivo cancer gene therapy aiming at breaking immune evasion mechanisms of liver metastases.

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Eloise Scamardella, Ph.D.

Research assistant

Eloise Scamardella graduated in Molecular Biology at the University of Naples Federico II where she studied the antitumor effect of oncolytic viruses. In 2020 she obtained a PhD degree in Immunology at Open University/Humanitas. During her studies she focused on molecular mechanisms regulating memory CD8 T cell differentiation and she developed a new strategy to improve CAR-T cell immunotherapy. She is currently employed as research assistant in the Targeted Cancer Gene Therapy unit at Tiget institute in San Raffaele, Milan.

Chiara Bresesti

Chiara Bresesti, M.Sc.

PhD Student

Chiara Bresesti earned her Bachelor’s degree in Medical Biotechnology in 2017 from Università degli Studi di Milano, with an experimental thesis aimed at characterizing a novel pathogenic variant of LH/CH Receptor. In 2020, she completed a double degree program earning a Master’s Degree in Medical Biotechnology (Università degli studi Milano-Bicocca) and Genetics (Université de Paris).  During her Master Thesis she characterized the structure of a lncRNA involved in melanoma aggressiveness, and its effect on the tumor microenvironment. Chiara is currently enrolled in the PhD course in Molecular Medicine of Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, curriculum Basic and Applied Immunology and Oncology.

Marco Notaro, M.Sc.

PhD Student

Marco Notaro graduated with an MSc in Industrial Biotechnology (2019) from the university of Milano-Bicocca. For his Master thesis, he worked on the characterization of the function of Rap1 in the DNA damage response in yeast. After graduation, Marco worked in the industrial sector for about a year, developing tailor-made rabbit monoclonal antibody. In December 2020, he started his PhD, curriculum Gene and Cell Therapy at San Raffaele university, were is currently working on the development of advanced lentiviral vector-based tumor vaccination.

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Gabriele Metalli

master Student

Gabriele Metalli graduated in Biotechnology (BSc) at the Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna in 2018 with an experimental thesis aimed at developing vectors for the study of a novel candidate gene in Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia. During the years he attended a summer program at the University of Kent, where he studied different protocols for the production of single-chain antibodies for Acute Myeloid Leukemia target therapy, and a five month fellowship at the Molecular Pathology unit of the Sant’Orsola hospital of Bologna. Gabriele is currently attending the master course in Cellular and Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Trento, specializing in Cancer Biology. In the our Cancer Gene Therapy Unit, Gabriele is performing an internship for his Master Thesis. 

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Giovanna Giacca

MD Student

Giovanna Giacca is a student currently enrolled in the International MD Program of Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan. During her studies, Giovanna participated in several internships involving cardiac regeneration by miRNA stimulation (2017, ICGEB), the interactions retrovirus-host in gene transfer  (2019, Tiget) and the immune system reconstitution of CAR-T-treated patients (2020, Ospedale San Raffaele). Giovanna joined the Cancer Gene Therapy Unit in 2021 for her Thesis internship. 

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