Scientific Advisory Board (SAB)

PROF. LUCIO LUZZATTO
President of the External Scientific Committee

He graduated from the University of Genoa School of Medicine in 1959. He specialised in hematology in Pavia and at the University of Columbia, New York. He was the Scientific Director at the Tumour Institute of Tuscany (Florence) and Professor of Hematology at the University of Florence.

He was the founder of the Hematology and Blood Transfusion Society of Nigeria, of which he has been honorary member since 1968. Amongst other posts Dr. Luzzato was Director of the International Genetics and Biophysics Institute at the National Research Centre (CNR) in Naples (1974-1981). He was also the Director of the Hematology Department at Hammersmith Hospital in London (1981-1994) and President of the Human Genetics Department at Cornell University, New York (1994-2004). From 2000 until 2006 he was the Scientific Director at the National Cancer Research Institute in Genoa. Since 2006 he has been the Director of the Instituti Toscani de Tumori in Florence. He is currently developing his scientific work in Tanzania. 

PROF. ROBERT SACKSTEIN
Member of the External Scientific Committee

He graduated summa cum laude in Medicine from Harvard Medical School where he also qualified as a Doctor in 1985. He was Internal Medicine Resident at the University of Miami (Jackson Memorial Hospital) where he also served his Postdoctoral Fellowship.

He is currently Professor at the Department of Dermatology and Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Program of Excellence in Glycosciences. Prof. Sackstein is a international specialist in bone marrow transplantation and its complications as graft versus host disease.

Prof. Sackstein is also a hematologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Director of the Translational Research Program and Bone Marrow Transplant Service at Massachusetts General Hospital, and member of the International Scientific Committee of the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Foundation from 2016. Prof. Sackstein has been actively involved in the development of the Institute since its inception.

PROF. ALBERTO ORFAO
Member of the External Scientific Committee

He holds a degree in Medicine from the University of Salamanca and from the New University of Lisbon. He obtained the title of Doctor in 1987 from the University of Salamanca. Currently he is Titular Professor and Director of the General Cytometry Service of this university.

His activities are focused on research in the clinical area and, above all, in the field of the immune system and cancer, about which he has contributed more than 100 articles to international
publications over the last five years.

Amongst other posts Prof. Orfao was president of the Iberian Cytometry Society (1995-1999) and he was president of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry Clinical Flow Cytometry Standardisation Committee (1994-1997). At the present time he is a member of the European Group for the Characterisation of Leukaemia. At the present time he is Professor of the Department of Medicine of the University of Salamanca, Member of the European Leukaemia Characterization Group and Scientific Director of the National DNA Bank of the Carlos III Health Institute.

PROF. BRIGITTE SCHLEGELBERGER
Member of the External Scientific Committee

She studied medicine at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich and at Kiel University. She was the deputy-director of the of Kiel University Human Genetics Institute. Her research and studies have taken Prof. Schlegelberger to the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, the University of Chicago, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the British Columbia Cancer Center of Vancouver and the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, United States.

Her studies have focused on the identification of recurrent chromosome alterations in leukaemia and malignant lymphomas. In 2001 she was appointed Director of the Hannover School of Medicine Cellular and Molecular Pathology Institute, Germany. The Institute has, in collaboration with many study groups, integrated the cytogenetic and molecular analysis of pilot clinical studies into myelodysplastic syndromes and leukaemia in children and adults.

At the present time, she is Professor and Director of Hannover Medical School Genetics Institute.

PROF. MARIA LUISA TORIBIO
Member of the External Scientific Committee

Maria Luisa Toribio has a Bachelor in Biology and a Ph.D. in Immunology from the Complutense University of Madrid. She trained for her Ph.D. at the Department of Immunology, Puerta de Hierro Hospital, Madrid. M. Toribio did postdocs at the Center for Molecular Biology Severo Ochoa (CBMSO) from the National Research Council (CSIC) and the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM), at the Pasteur Institute (Paris, France) and the Basel Institute for Immunology (Basel, Switzerland).

She is a Full Professor of the CSIC since 2003, and Head of the Department of Cell Biology and Immunology at the CBMSO/CSIC-UAM since 2014. She was Visiting Professor (2006-2007) at the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA). Her research has contributed to the current knowledge of the molecular mechanisms involved in the development of T lymphocytes in the human thymus, and to the identification of the signaling pathways whose deregulation is involved in the pathogenesis of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). Her group has recently pioneered the development of unique models of de novo generation of human T-ALL and preclinical models of immunotherapy, as a proof-of-concept for novel therapeutic developments. Her research has been funded by several National and International Agencies, and her group has maintained a productive scientific activity, with relevant publications in international journals of high impact, national and international collaborations, and important training activity.

PROF. PIER PAOLO PANDOLFI
Member of the External Scientific Committee

Dr. Pandolfi received his MD and Ph.D. from the University of Perugia in Italy after studying philosophy at the University of Rome as an undergraduate. He completed post-graduate training at the National Institute for Medical Research and the University of London in England.  Dr. Pandolfi joined BIDMC in 2007 from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where he was head of the Molecular and Developmental Biology Laboratories since 1995 and held the Albert C. Foster Endowed Chair for Cancer Research. He became director of the BIDMC Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute in 2013, after serving as chief of BIDMC’s Division of Genetics in the Department of Medicine, director of research in the Cancer Center, and director of the Cancer Genetics Program. 

A world leader in cancer genetics and cancer cell biology, Dr. Pandolfi has conducted research that has led to breakthroughs in the understanding, treatment, and definitive cures of cancer. His laboratory studies have been seminal at revealing the molecular mechanisms and genetics underlying the pathogenesis of leukemias and solid tumors, enabling him and his research team to model these cancers in mice. Dr. Pandolfi and his colleagues have characterized the function of the fusion oncoproteins and the genes involved in the chromosomal translocations of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) and major tumor suppressors, such as PTEN and p53, and novel cancer genes, such as POKEMON, INPP4B, and WWP1. Critically, his work to uncover the molecular basis underlying APL pathogenesis and modeling this disease in the mouse led to the development of novel and effective therapeutic strategies. Based on these findings, APL is now considered a curable disease. Novel therapeutic concepts have emerged from this work and are currently being tested in multiple clinical trials. 

Furthermore, Dr. Pandolfi led revolutionary studies revealing that non-coding RNAs regulate basic biological processes such as growth and tumorigenesis, thus dispelling long-held beliefs that non-protein coding genes in the human genome were “junk.” He and his colleagues uncovered a new hidden code whereby these “junk” genes can function and talk to each other. This new scientific dimension is almost mind-boggling in its scope, as the number of genes that encode non-coding RNAs is approaching the 100,000 marks, vastly expanding the size of the functional genetic units present in our genome. These discoveries have already sparked the development of new drugs targeting specific non-coding RNAs to treat disease in patients.

Dr. Pandolfi has received more than 30 national and international awards for his achievements, among them the Weizmann Institute Lombroso Prize for Cancer Research, and the Pezcoller Foundation-AACR (American Association for Cancer Research) International Award for Cancer Research, dubbed as the Nobel Prize in cancer research, for his work in cancer genetics and the field of APL. A citizen of both Italy and the United States, he was “Knighted” by the Republic of Italy, receiving the “Officer of the Order of the Star of Italy” by the President of the Italian Republic. Very recently, he has also been named Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London.

PROF. CHRISTOPH PLASS
Member of the External Scientific Committee

Dr. Plass started his scientific career with studies in Berlin (Diploma in Biology) and Lübeck (Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics, 1993). Following his Ph.D., he accepted a postdoctoral position at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. Here he established, in collaboration with Dr. Hayashizaki (RIKEN), the first screening platform for DNA methylation changes in whole genomes. In 1997, Dr. Plass began his independent career as Assistant Professor in Cancer Genetics at The Ohio State University in Columbus, USA, where he worked for ten years and moved up in the ranks to Full Professor with an endowed chair. In 2007. Dr. Plass joined the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, where he heads the Division of Cancer Epigenomics.

Dr. Plass’s research focus is on cancer epigenomics in leukemia as well as other human malignancies. Together with his collaborators, he provided the first genome-wide screens for DNA methylation patterns in human cancer samples. This work culminated in a frequently cited landmark paper by Costello et al. in Nature Genetics describing tumor-type specific DNA methylation patterns in different human malignancies. This manuscript represented the inauguration of global DNA methylome screens in cancer genomes and efforts that ultimately led to sequencing-based whole-genome bisulfite sequencing, currently the state-of-the-art technology to decipher DNA methylomes at the single CpG level.