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Isabella Saggio CV 2018

Address: Department Biology and Biotechnology Charles Darwin, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

E-Mail:          Web site:


Education and professional experience

2018: Appointed Nanyang Technological University of Singapore visiting professor

2017: Full professor (scientific sector Genetics) qualification according to Italian national criteria (3/3 passed)

2017- to date: Founder and co-director of the “Stem cell and gene editing – u-stem” Master school at Sapienza University

2016-to date: Selected member of the School of advanced studies at Sapienza University (SSAS); named representative of Sapienza University in the Italian Consortium for Biotechnology (CIB). Coordinator of the Sapienza University/Nanyang Technological University of Singapore framework agreement.

2015, 2016, 2017: Visiting scientist Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, Telomere lab directed by D. Rhodes. Promoter NTU-Sapienza 5year cooperation agreement.

2011-to date: Founder, coordinator and teacher of the Double Degree between Sapienza University and the Universities Paris5 and Paris7. The first international degree in Genetics and Molecular Biology at Sapienza University of Rome, which includes teaching courses held in in English, in Italy and in France, open to both Italian and French students.

2010: Visiting scientist (CNR financed) Paris 7 University and Pasteur Institute (France), Immunology lab directed by A. Cumano.

2008: Visiting scientist (CNR financed) Salk Institute (La Jolla CA USA), Virology and Gene Therapy lab directed by I. Verma.

2008-to date: Teaching member of the PhD school in Genetics and Molecular Biology, Sapienza University of Rome.

2005-to date: Associate Professor of Genetics and Gene Therapy. Group leader (see web-site, Dept of Biology and Biotechnology Charles Darwin, Sapienza University of Rome. Founder and Director, Master in Life sciences communication, Sapienza University (see web-site Erasmus project coordinator Sapienza University /University of Paris 5 and 7.

2004: Visiting scientist (CNRS financed) Lyon Laennec University, Lyon France. Virology lab directed by P. Boulanger.

2003 to date: Selected associate scientist IBPM research institute, CNR

2003-2010: Associate scientist and group leader San Raffaele Science Park Rome

1996-2003: Assistant Professor, Dept of Genetics and Mol. Biology Sapienza University of Rome Italy.

1995-96: EU postdoctoral fellow, Oncogenic Virus Lab, Gustave Roussy Institute, Paris France.

1991-94: PhD fellow at IRBM Merck research institute directed by R. Cortese, Rome Italy.

1989-90: Research fellow, Laboratory of Virology National Health Institute, Rome Italy.

1988: Laurea full marks cum laude, Dept of Genetics and Mol. Biology, Sapienza University of Rome Italy.


Teaching assignments

2017-to date: Founder and teacher The biology of stem cells and their applications, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

2013-to date: Founder and teacher, New frontiers of biomedicine in genetics and neurosciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

2001-to date: Founder and teacher, Gene Therapy, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

2001-2013: Genetics, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

2001-05: Genetics, University of Urbino, Italy


Scientific Interests

The focus of our lab is modeling human diseases and designing gene therapy correction strategies. We are currently investigating telomeropathies, laminopathies and Fibrous dysplasia. We subdivide our interests in two areas i) stem cells and gene therapy, ii) interplay between DNA (telomeric) function and nuclear structural proteins in physiology and pathology. We use in vitro and in vivo molecular tools, including viral vectors, CrisprCas9 gene editing, up-to-date microscopy and biochemistry and transgenic animals.


Association to scientific and professional organizations



Funded projects

2017-2018 PRF USA Progerias PI I. Saggio

2017 Sapienza grant. Aging. PI I. Saggio

2016 Telethon EG project. AKTIP and progerias. PI I. Saggio

2015-2018 AIRC collaborative project. Telomeric genes from Drosophila to man.

2013-2016 EU FP7 IAPP. Brainvectors. PI I. Saggio

2012 Cenci Bolognetti. Telomeric genes, from Drosophila to man. PI I. Saggio

2012 CIB. Comparative investigation of the toxicogenomic signature of canine adenovirus 2 vector with that of HIV1, AAV 9 and human adenovirus 5 gene therapy vectors in human brain cells. PI I. Saggio

2010 AST. Gene therapy of neurodegenerative disorders. PI I. Saggio

2007-2012 EU FP7. BrainCAV. PI and work-package leader

2006-2016 Sponsoring from MSD, Pfeizer, Abbott, Novartis for science communication. PI I. Saggio

2006-2007 MIUR PRIN. Modeling and correcting organogenetic and pathogenetic skeletal processes using stem cells. PI I. Saggio

2005, 2010 AIRC collaborative project on telomeric genes.

2004-2014 MIUR Uniroma1 funding. PI I. Saggio

2004, 2009 Telethon collaborative project on stem cell disease fibrous dysplasia.

2004 MIUR 6-2000. Web site for science communication. PI I. Saggio

2002 MIUR 6-2000. Openlab. PI I. Saggio

2001-2002 CIB. Phage vectors for gene transfer. PI I. Saggio

2000-2001 Cenci Bolognetti. Phage technology for the study of Adenovirus-receptor interaction. PI I. Saggio

2000-2001 PNR. Adenoviral vectors for gene therapy. Collaboration with SIGMA TAU

2000 CNR. Structure-function analysis of Adenovirus penton base. PI I. Saggio


Organization of scientific events

Annual meeting of BrainCAV consortium, Rome 2008.

Organization of more than 30 scientific seminars.

Permanent seminar on Nobel prize, Stockholm in Rome. 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.

Co-organization of more than 10 meetings for education for more than 100 journalists, formally recognized as educational CFUs by the National association of journalism (ODG).


Revision of projects

Association Nationale Recherche, ANR

Unity Through Knowledge Fund

Université de Montpellier

MIE French National Agency

Italian Ministry of University and Research MIUR


Revision of scientific articles

Experimental Cell Research

BMC Medical Genomics

Stem cells

Stem Cell Research

Plos One



Foreign languages

English, French, German



1.     Burla R, La Torre M, Merigliano C, Verni F and Saggio I. (in press). DNA function and progeroid syndromes. Nucleus.


2.     La Torre M, Burla R, Merigliano C et al. (in press). Mice with reduced expression of the telomere-associated protein Ft1 develop p53-sensitive progeroid traits. Aging cell.

3.     Burla R, La Torre M, Saggio I. (2016) Mammalian telomeres and their partnership with lamins. Nucleus 7:187-202.


4.     Burla R, Carcuro MT, La Torre M, Fratini F, Crescenzi M, D’Apice MR, Spitalieri P, Raffa GD, Astrologo L, Lattanzi G, Cundari E, Raimondo D, Biroccio AM, Gatti M, Saggio I. (2016) The telomeric protein AKTIP interacts with A- and B-type lamins. Open Biology 6:160103.

5.     Sacchetti B, Funari A, Remoli C, Giannicola G, Robey PG, Kogler G, Liedtke S, Cossu G, Serafini M, Sampaolesi M, Tagliafico E, Tenedini E, Saggio I, Riminucci M, Bianco P. (2016) No identical "mesenchymal stem cells" at different times and sites: Human committed progenitors of distinct origin and differentiation potential are incorporated as adventitial cells in microvessels. Stem cell reports 6:897-913.


6.     Simão D, Pinto C, Fernandes P, Peddie CJ, Piersanti S, Collinson LM, Salinas S, Saggio I, Schiavo G, Kremer EJ, Brito C, Alves PM. (2016) Evaluation of helper-dependent canine adenovirus vectors in a 3D human CNS model. Gene therapy 23: 86–94.

7.     Piersanti S, Burla R, Licursi V, Brito C, la Torre, M, Alves P, Simao D, Mottini C, Salinas S, Negri R, Tagliafico E, Kremer EJ and Saggio I. (2015) Transcriptional response of human neurospheres to helper-dependent CAV-2 vectors: activation of DNA damage response, modulation of microtubule motors and centromeric proteins.  Plos One 10: e0133607.


8.     Cenci G, Ciapponi L, Marzullo M, Raffa GD, Morciano P, Raimondo D, Burla R, Saggio I and Gatti M. (2015). The analysis of pendolino (peo) mutants reveals differences in the fusigenic potential among Drosophila telomeres. Plos Genetics 11: e1005260.

9.     Burla R, Carcuro M, Raffa GD, Galati A, Raimondo D, Rizzo A, la Torre M, Micheli M, Ciapponi L, Cenci G, Cundari E, Musio A, Biroccio A, Cacchione S, Gatti M and Saggio I. (2015) AKTIP/Ft1, a new shelterin-interacting factor required for telomere maintenance. Plos Genetics 11: e1005167.


10.   Remoli C, Michienzi S, Sacchetti B, Di Consiglio A, Cersosimo S, Spica S,  Robey PG, Holmbeck K, Cumano A, Boyde A, Davis G, Saggio I, Riminucci M, and Bianco P (2014) Targeted expression of the Fibrous Dysplasia (FD) causing mutation, GsR201C in osteoblasts produces a high bone mass phenotype but does not reproduce FD in the mouse. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 30: 1030-1043.


11.   Simao D, PintoC, Piersanti S, Licursi V, Collimnson L, Serra M, Texeira A, Saggio I, Kremer EJ, Schiavo G, Brito C, Alves P. Modeling human neural functionality in vitro: 3D culture for dopaminergic differentiation. (2014) Tissue Engineering 21: 654-668.

12.   Cossetti C, Lugini L, Astrologo L, Saggio I, Fais S and Spadafora C. (2014) Soma-to-germline transmission of RNA in mice xenografted with human tumour cells: possible transport by exosomes. Plos One 9: e101629.


13.   Saggio I, Remoli C, Spica E, Cersosimo S, Sacchetti B, Robey PJ, Holmbeck K, Cumano A, Boyde A, Bianco P, Riminucci M. (2014) Constitutive Expression of GsαR201C in Mice Produces a Heritable, Direct Replica of Human Fibrous Dysplasia Bone Pathology and Demonstrates Its Natural History. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 29: 2357-68.

14.   Piersanti S, Tagliafico E, Saggio I. (2014) DNA microarray to analyze Adenovirus-host interactions. Methods in Molecular Biology Humana Press 1089: 89-104.

  1. Piersanti S, Astrologo L, Licursi V, CostaR, Roncaglia E, Gennetier A, Ibanes S, Chillon M, Negri R, Tagliafico, Kremer EJ, Saggio I. (2013) Differentiated neuroprogenitor cells incubated with human or canine adenovirus, or lentiviral vectors have distinct transcriptome profiles. Plos One 26: e69808.
  2.   Soldati C, Cacci E, Biagioni S, Carucci N, Lupo G, Perrone-Capano C, Saggio I, Augusti-Tocco G. (2012) Restriction of neural precursor ability to respond to Nurr1 by early regional specification. Plos One 7: e51798.
  1. Khalaj-Kondori M, Sadeghizadeh M, Behmanesh M, Saggio I, Monaci P (2011) Chemical coupling as a potent strategy for preparation of targeted bacteriophage-derived gene nanocarriers into eukaryotic cells. Journal of Gene Medicine 13: 622-631.
  2. Cherubini G, Naim V, Caruso P, Burla R, Bogliolo M, et al. (2011) The FANC pathway is activated by adenovirus infection and promotes viral replication-dependent recombination. Nucleic Acids Research 39: 5459-5473.
  3. Riminucci M, Robey PG, Saggio I, Bianco P (2010) Skeletal progenitors and the GNAS gene: fibrous dysplasia of bone read through stem cells. Journal of Molecular Endocrinology 45: 355-364.
  4. Piersanti S, Remoli C, Saggio I, Funari A, Michienzi S, et al. (2010) Transfer, Analysis, and Reversion of the Fibrous Dysplasia Cellular Phenotype in Human Skeletal Progenitors. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 25: 1103-1116.
  5. Bianco P, Robey PG, Saggio I, Riminucci M (2010) "Mesenchymal'' Stem Cells in Human Bone Marrow (Skeletal Stem Cells): A Critical Discussion of Their Nature, Identity, and Significance in Incurable Skeletal Disease. Human Gene Therapy 21: 1057-1066.
  6. Caruso P, Burla R, Piersanti S, Cherubini G, Remoli C, et al. (2009) Prion expression is activated by Adenovirus 5 infection and affects the adenoviral cycle in human cells. Virology 385: 343-350.
  7. Sacchetti B, Funari A, Michienzi S, Di Cesare S, Piersanti S, et al. (2007) Self-renewing osteoprogenitors in bone marrow sinusoids can organize a hematopoietic microenvironment. Cell 131: 324-336.
  1. Martina Y, Avitabile D, Piersanti S, Cherubini G, Saggio I (2007) Different modulation of cellular transcription by adenovirus 5, Delta E1/E3 adenovirus and helper-dependent vectors. Virus Research 130: 71-84.
  2. Benihoud K, Esselin S, Descamps D, Jullienne B, Salone B, et al. (2007) Respective roles of TNF-alpha and IL-6 in the immune response-elicited by adenovirus-mediated gene transfer in mice. Gene Therapy 14: 533-544.
  3. Riminucci M, Saggio I, Robey PG, Bianco P (2006) Fibrous dysplasia as a stem cell disease. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 21: 125-131.
  4. Piersanti S, Sacchetti B, Funari A, Di Cesare S, Bonci D, et al. (2006) Lentiviral transduction of human postnatal skeletal (stromal, mesenchymal) stem cells: In vivo transplantation and gene silencing. Calcified Tissue International 78: 372-384.
  5. Cherubini G, Petouchoff T, Grossi M, Piersanti S, Cundari E, et al. (2006) E1B55K-deleted adenovirus (ONYX-015) overrides G(1)/S and G(2)/M checkpoints and causes mitotic catastrophe and endoreduplication in p53-proficient normal cells. Cell Cycle 5: 2244-2252.
  6. Campo S, Serlupi-Crescenzi O, Arseni B, Rossi S, Saggio I, et al. (2005) Comparative activity of Sant7 and anti-IL-6, IL-6R monoclonal antibodies in a murine model of B-cell lymphoma. Cytokine 31: 368-374. IF 2.8
  7. Piersanti S, Martina Y, Cherubini G, Avitabile D, Saggio I (2004) Use of DNA microarrays to monitor host response to virus and virus-derived gene therapy vectors. Am J Pharmacogenomics 4: 345-356.
  8. Piersanti S, Cherubini G, Martina Y, Salone B, Avitabile D, et al. (2004) Mammalian cell transduction and internalization properties of lambda phages displaying the full-length adenoviral penton base or its central domain. Journal of Molecular Medicine 82: 467-476.
  9. Salone B, Martina Y, Piersanti S, Cundari E, Cherubini G, et al. (2003) Integrin alpha 3 beta 1 is an alternative cellular receptor for adenovirus serotype 5. Journal of Virology 77: 13448-13454.
  10. Di Giovine M, Salone B, Martina Y, Amati V, Zambruno G, et al. (2001) Binding properties, cell delivery, and gene transfer of adenoviral penton base displaying bacteriophage. Virology 282: 102-112. 
  11. Benihoud K, Salone B, Esselin S, Opolon P, Poli V, et al. (2000) The role of IL-6 in the inflammatory and humoral response to adenoviral vectors. Journal of Gene Medicine 2: 194-203.
  12. Benihoud K, Saggio I, Opolon P, Salone B, Amiot F, et al. (1998) Efficient, repeated adenovirus-mediated gene transfer in mice lacking both tumor necrosis factor alpha and lymphotoxin alpha. Journal of Virology 72: 9514-9525.
  13. Saggio I, Ciapponi L, Savino R, Ciliberto G, Perricaudet M (1997) Adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of a human IL-6 antagonist. Gene Therapy 4: 839-845.
  14. DiMarco A, Gloaguen I, Demartis A, Saggio I, Graziani R, et al. (1997) Agonistic and antagonistic variants of ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) reveal functional differences between membrane-bound and soluble CNTF alpha-receptor. Journal of Biological Chemistry 272: 23069-23075.
  15. Di Marco A, Gloaguen I, Graziani R, Paonessa G, Saggio I, et al. (1996) Identification of ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) residues essential for leukemia inhibitory factor receptor binding and generation of CNTF receptor antagonists. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 93: 9247-9252.
  16. Saggio I, Gloaguen I, Poiana G, Laufer R (1995) CNTF variants with increased biological potency and receptor selectivity define a functional site of receptor interaction. Embo Journal 14: 3045-3054.
  17. Saggio I, Gloaguen I, Laufer R (1995) Functional phage display of ciliary neurotrophic factor. Gene 152: 35-39.
  18. Saggio I, Paonessa G, Gloaguen I, Graziani R, Deserio A, et al. (1994) Nonradioactive receptor binding assay for ciliary neurotrophic factor. Analytical Biochemistry 221: 387-391.
  19. Saggio I, Laufer R (1993) Biotin binders selected from a random peptide library expressed on phage. Biochemical Journal 293: 613-616.
  20. Saggio I, Laufer R (1993) Detection of biotinylated molecules in solid-phase assays using a recombinant biotin-binding bacteriophage. Analytical Biochemistry 214: 352-355.
  1. Federico M, Taddeo B, Saggio I, Orecchia A, Verani P, et al. (1991) HIV-1 superinfection of CEM-SS clones infected with an interfering HIV-1 genome. Aids Research and Human Retroviruses 7: 140-141.


Proceedings on peer reviewed journal (selection)

  1. Piersanti S, Licursi V, Brito C, Burla R, Alves P, Simao D, Devau G, Mottini C, Negri R, Tagliafico E, Kremer EJ, Saggio I. (2014) High Throughput Comparative Analysis of the Response of Human and Nonhuman Primate Neurons To Viral Vectors. Mol. Therapy 22: 192-192.
  2. Simao D, Pinto C, Fernandes P, Serra M, Teixeira AP, Piersanti S, Ibanes S, Gennetier A,  Saggio I, Collinson L, Weston A, Schiavo G, Kremer EJ, Alves PA,  Brito C. (2013) Towards improved predictability in pre-clinical research: Human dopaminergic 3D in vitro model for development of gene delivery strategies . Human Gene Therapy 12:118-11.
  3. Alves-Marques P, Baker A, Bosch A. (2012) et al. BRAINCAV: a nonhuman adenovirus vector for gene transfer to the brain. Human Gene Therapy 10:154-154.
  4. Piersanti S, Astrologo L, Licursi V, et al. (2012) Canine adenovirus (CAV-2) vectors induce an innate immune response and the modulation of cell cycle genes in dopaminergic differentiated human midbrain neuronal precursors Human Gene Therapy 10:157-157.
  5. Piersanti S, Astrologo L, Schwarz SC, Schwarz J, Chillon M, et al. (2010) High-throughput transcriptional analysis of gene therapy viral vectors effects on brain cells. Human Gene Therapy 21: 1426-1426.
  6. Michienzi S, Piersanti S, Funari A, Remoli C, Cersosimo S, et al. (2009) Phosphodiesterase-mediated adaptation to Gs-alpha mutations is developmentally regulated in embryonic and post-natal stem cells. Bone 44: S155-S155
  7. Martina Y, Avitabile D, Piersanti S, Cherubini G, Salone B, et al. (2003) Gene expression is altered by infection with adenovirus and adeno-derived vectors. Global monitoring with oligonucleotide arrays. Molecular Therapy 7: S5-S5.
  8. Federico M, Titti F, Butto S, Orecchia A, Carlini F, et al. (1990) Construction of a retroviral particle containing an interfering HIV-1 genome. Aids Research and Human Retroviruses 6: 68-68.


Book chapters

  1. Saggio I. In Genetica, a cura di S. Pimpinelli. (2014) Terapia genica. Casa Editrice Ambrosiana Rozzano (Mi) 550-559.
  2. Saggio I. Terapia genica. I virus usati per curare (2008) in Enciclopedia medica 52-58.
  3. Saggio, I. Targeting bacteriophage vectors. (2002) In Vector targeting for therapeutic gene delivery. Edited by Curiel, D.T.  and Douglas, J.T.. Published by Wiley, New York. 20: 429-456




  1. Saggio I, Di Giovine M, Salone B, Martina Y. Chimeric vectors and their use for gene transfer. Granted Italian and international patent. (WO 02/24934)
  2. Laufer R, Saggio I, Gloaguen I, Di Marco A, Demartis A. Variants of human ciliary neurotrophic factor (hCNTF) with improved receptor-selectivity, and methodology for their selection. Granted italian and international patent. (WO 98/41625)
  3. Ciliberto G, Saggio I, Savino R, Perricaudet M. Adenoviral vectors for mutants of human interleukin 6 (hIL-6) with hIL-6 antagonist activity over hIL-6. Pharmaceutical compositions there with and their uses. Granted italian and international patent. (WO 98/13383)
  4. Laufer R, Saggio I. Variants of human ciliary neurotrophic factor (hCNTF) with improved receptor binding affinity. Granted italian patent.(n. 012878094)
  5. Laufer R, Saggio I. Method for production of Filamentous phages displaying on the surface of the capsids peptides capable of binding biotin, and Filamentous phages and peptides thus obtained. Granted italian patent. (n. 1261693)


Articles on press (selection)

1.     Saggio I. Intimations of immortality. (2016) Longitude Italian Monthly on World Affairs. #63

2.     Saggio I. Ebola: What is to be done? (2014) Longitude Italian Monthly on World Affairs. #43

3.     Saggio I. Keeping resistance at bay. (2013) Longitude Italian Monthly on World Affairs. #27

4.     Saggio I. Deadly friends. (2012)  Longitude Italian Monthly on World Affairs. #06


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