Alliance Against Cancer (Alleanza Contro il Cancro, ACC) is the Italian Oncology Network founded by the Italian Ministry of Health. To date, members of ACC include 28 Italian Comprehensive Cancer Centres, together with the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), the Polytechnic Foundation in Milan, the Italian Association of Cancer Patients (AIMaC), the National Center for Hadrontherapy and the Italian National Institute of Health. ACC’s mission is to bring technological and organizational innovation from basic research to clinical practice, raising and unifying the level of care, treatment, and rehabilitation of cancer patients throughout the country. ACC operates in three main areas: translational and clinical cancer research, cancer diagnosis and therapy, education and communication in oncology. Since its foundation in 2002, ACC has regularly collaborated with the Italian Ministry of Health, assuming a leading role in numerous national and European research projects as well as networking activities. As such, ACC will bring both technical expertise and strategic role to contribute to the success of the 4.UNCAN.eu coordination and support action.
Biographies of team members
Franco Locatelli is a Full Professor of Pediatrics at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Rome, President of the Italian Higher Council Health and Head of the Department of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology, at the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Rome. He is a renowned expert of haematological malignant and non-malignant disorders of childhood. He is the chairperson of the current diagnostic and treatment protocol for children with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia of childhood, and chairs the working group on relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia in Italy. He is chairperson of the international protocol of chemotherapy-free treatment of childhood acute promyelocytic leukemia. During his career, he has provided relevant contributions in the study of childhood leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, thalassemia, innate immunity, immune reconstitution after transplantation, tumour immunology, induction of tolerance towards alloantigens and anti-viral cellular immunity. His current research interests are CAR T cells for both B-cell malignancies and solid tumours, T cells genetically modified with a suicide gene to accelerate immune recovery after allogeneic cell transplantation and gene therapy/genome editing for hemoglobinopathies.
Ruggero De Maria
Ruggero De Maria is a Full Professor of Pathology at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy, where he also serves as Deputy Scientific Director of Agostino Gemelli University Hospital. He is President of Alliance Against Cancer, the Italian network of comprehensive cancer centres, as well as of the Italian Institute for Genomic Medicine in Turin, a national reference centre for precision medicine. He is internationally recognized for his pioneering work on cancer stem cells. His groundbreaking discovery of cancer stem cells in lung and colon cancer revolutionized our understanding of cancer biology and paved the way to the development of innovative targeted therapies. His research activity also contributed to uncover the angiogenic activity of glioblastoma stem cells, and to identify cells and mechanisms responsible for metastatization in breast and colon cancer. His current projects are aimed at designing novel therapies based on cancer stem cell targeting.
Piergiuseppe Pelicci is Full Professor of Pathology at the University of Milan, Chairman of the Department of Experimental Oncology at the European Institute of Oncology (IEO) in Milan, President of the European School of Molecular Medicine (SEMM) and Scientific Director of Alliance against Cancer. At IEO, he is responsible for strategic planning of research programmes, including basic, translational and clinical research. He contributed to seminal discoveries on the mechanisms of tumorigenesis in leukemia and the molecular bases of some of currently used targeted treatments (such as retinoic acid, HDAC- or histone- demethylase inhibitors). More recently, he has been focusing on the biological and molecular characterization of normal and cancer stem cells, in leukemia and breast cancer, mechanisms of DNA damage accumulation in cancer cells, and intratumor heterogeneity, with the aim of defining its role during tumor progression and treatment resistance.
Lidia Villanova graduated in Medical, Molecular and Cellular Biotechnology at Sapienza University in Rome. During her PhD in Human Pathology, she explored the role of histone deacetylating enzymes in metastatic progression under the joint supervision of Dr Matteo Russo and Dr Katrin F. Chua at Stanford University (CA, USA), where she spent two years as a PhD visiting student researcher. Following her PhD defense, she joined the laboratory of Dr Ruggero De Maria as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Health in Italy, to investigate the role of microRNAs in colorectal cancer. Being awarded a Starting Grant from the Ministry of Health, she undertook a research project on the crosstalk between cancer stem cells and cancer-associated fibroblasts isolated from liver metastases of colorectal cancer.
During her academic carreer she has co-authored 17 publications in translational cancer research and has contributed to several presentations at international conferences. In 2022 she transitioned to the scientific management of European projects for Alliance Against Cancer, the largest oncology research network in Italy.