Arturo Falaschi

The mind and driving force in the founding and development of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Arturo Falaschi was ICGEB Distinguished Scientist from 2004-2010, Director-General of the Centre from 1989-2004, Head of the Trieste Component of ICGEB from 1987-1989 and Group Leader of the Molecular Biology Laboratory from 1987 to 2010.

In 2012, the first major meeting on Frontiers in Cardiac and Vascular Regeneration, organised by Mauro Giacca, has been held in Trieste, to launch the series of conferences on topics of Molecular Medicine dedicated to the memory of Prof. Arturo Falaschi.

The 2nd Meeting of the Arturo Falaschi Conference Series, entitled: “ICGEB DNA Tumour Virus Meeting”, organised by Lawrence Banks, was held in Trieste in July 2015. The 3rd Meeting of the Series, entitled: “At the Intersection of DNA Replication and Genome Maintenance: from Mechanisms to Therapy”, was held in Trieste in July 2016, organised by Alessandro Vindigni. The Arturo Falaschi Conference Series 2017, “Atypical dementias: from diagnosis to emerging therapies”, took place in Trieste in November 2017, organised by Emanuele Buratti. In 2019, the 50th Anniversary of the DNATV Meeting will be held under this umbrella in Trieste, from 9-14 July, at the Stazione Marittima, marking the 6th edition of the Conference Series.

On 11 November 2010, the Headquarters of the Centre has been dedicated to his memory.

The “Arturo Falaschi ICGEB Fellowship Programme”, open to PhD and Postdoctoral applicants from ICGEB Member States, was officially renamed in 2012.

The “Immaginario Scientifico” Science Centre in Trieste dedicates a special laboratory for families on genetics, entitled “Arturo’s Helix“, in memory of Prof. Arturo Falaschi, each year.


Faculty of Medicine, University of Milan, Italy, MD (Hons), 1957

Career History

2004-2010, Distinguished Scientist, ICGEB, Trieste
2004-2010, Director, Laboratory of Molecular Biology,
Scuola Normale Superiore SNS, Pisa
1989-2004, Director-General, ICGEB
1987-1989, Head, Trieste Component of the ICGEB
1982-1989, Director, “Progetto Finalizzato Ingegneria Genetica”, Italian National Research Council CNR
1971-2010, Director of Research, CNR
1970-1989, Director, “Istituto di Genetica Biochimica ed Evoluzionistica”,
 CNR, Pavia
1970-1973, President, Italian Society for Biophysics and Molecular Biology SIBBM
1966, Professorship “Libera Docenza” in Molecular Biology
1965-1969, CNR Researcher, Institute of Genetics, University of Pavia
1962-1965, Fellow, Department of Biochemistry,
Stanford University, CA, USA, with Prof. A. Kornberg
1961-1962, Fellow. Department of Biochemistry,
University of Wisconsin, USA, with Prof. J. Adler and Prof. H.G. Khorana
1959-1961, Fellow, University of Ferrara, Italy, with Prof. E. Boeri

Teaching Activity

2004-2010, Professor of Molecular Biology, Scuola Normale Superiore SNS, Pisa
1988-2001, Co-ordinator of the Graduate School of Molecular Genetics, International School of Advanced Studies SISSA, Trieste
1978-1984 Director of the Graduate School of Genetics, University of Pavia
1966-1979, Professor of Molecular Biology, University of Pavia

Scientific Activity

Numerous and important scientific contributions in the field of replication studies of DNA in mammalian cells; a research theme and personal passion that distinguished Falaschi’s scientific activity from the time of his return from the United States in the ‘60s. He developed procedures to isolate neosynthesized DNA generated from the activation of DNA replication origins in mammalian chromosomes and established an innovative method for origin mapping. Thanks to these technological advances, he identified and characterized the Lamin B2 origin of DNA replication, the first human origin known in molecular details and now considered a standard in the field. Also intense was his biochemical activity in the field of DNA metabolism, particularly concerning purification and characterization of human proteins with helicase activity. His international scientific works featured in the most prestigious journals in the field of molecular research number over 130. He remains one of the few international researchers whose scientific activity is documented throughout almost fifty years (from 1962 to 2010). 

Research interests in later years were articulated along the three main lines: i) Regulation of human DNA replication at the molecular level: identification of the origins of DNA replication and of the reactions occurring therein that lead to the initiation of bidirectional synthesis; ii) Human DNA helicases: isolation and description of the DNA unwinding enzymes present in the nucleus and identification of their possible role in origin or growing fork function; iii) Methodologies for gene therapy: developing conditions for the production of AAV-based vectors in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae; use of yeast-derived proteins to enhance the frequency of gene targeting in human cells.

Other activities

2008-2010, Senior Counsellor, Asia Pacific International Molecular Biology NetworkA-IMBN, Seoul, Korea
2006-2010, Editor-in-Chief, HFSP Journal
2006-2010, Rector, International Centre for Science ICS, Trieste, Italy
2005-2007, Executive Director, A-IMBN, Seoul, Korea

Selected publications

Marchetti, L., Comelli, L., D’Innocenzo, B., Puzzi, L., Luin, S., Arosio, D., Calvello, M., Mendoza-Maldonado, R., Peverali, F., Trovato, F., Riva, S., Biamonti, G., Abdurashidova, G., Beltram, F., Falaschi, A. 2010. Homeotic proteins participate in the function of human-DNA replication origins. Nucleic Acids Res. 38, 8105-8109 PubMed link

Falaschi, A., Abdurashidova, G., Biamonti, G. 2010. DNA replication, development and cancer: a homeotic connection? Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 45, 14-22 PubMed link

Falaschi, A. Binding of DNA topoisomerases I and II to replication origins.2009. In: DNA Topoisomerases, Methods in Molecular Biology 582, D.J. Clarke (ed.), Humana Press, Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany, 582, pp.131-143 PubMed link

Comelli, L., Marchetti, L., Arosio, D., Riva, S., Abdurashidova, G., Beltram, F., Falaschi A. 2009. The homeotic protein HOXC13 is a member of human DNA replication complexes. Cell Cycle 8, 454-459 PubMed link

Ochem, A.E., Hocine, R., Skopac, D., Falaschi A. 2008. Stimulation of the DNA unwinding activity of human DNA helicase II/Ku by phosphorylation. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics 470, 1-7 PubMed link

Falaschi, A. 2008. The HSFP Journal one year on: moving forward with a new feature. HSFP Journal 2, 123

Falaschi, A. 2008. Similia similibus: pairing of homologous chromosomes driven by the psychochemical properties of DNA. HSFP Journal 2, 257-261

Abdurashidova, G., Radulescu, S., Sandoval, O., Zahariev, S., Danailov, M.B., Demidovich, A., Santamaria, L., Biamonti, G., Riva, S., Falaschi, A. 2007. Functional interactions of DNA topoisomerases with a human replication origin. EMBO J. 26, 998-1009 PubMed link

Falaschi, A. Changing disciplinary borders into frontiers of progress. Editorial.2007. HFSP Journal 1, 1-3

Falaschi, A., Abdurashidova, G., Sandoval, O., Radulescu, S., Biamonti, G., Riva, S. 2007. Molecular and structural transactions at human DNA replication origins.Cell Cycle 6, 1705-1712

Falaschi, A., Abdurashidova, G. 2007. Molecular mechanics and DNA replication regulation. HFSP Journal 1, 215-219

Aladjem, M. I., Falaschi A., Kowalski, D. 2006. Eukariotic DNA replication origins.In: DNA replication and human disease. M.L. DePamphilis (ed.), Cold Spring Harbor Press, pp. 31-61

Sheng, C., Arosio, D., Doherty, K.M., Brosh jr, R.M., Falaschi, A., Vindigni, A. 2004. Analysis of the unwinding activity of the dimeric RecQ1 helicase in the presence of human replication protein A. Nucleic Acids Res. 32, 1-13

Stefanovic, D., Stanojcic, S., Vindigni, A., Ochem, A., Falaschi, A. 2003. In vitro protein-DNA interactions at the human lamin B2 replication origin. J. Biol. Chem.278, 42737-42743

Vindigni, A., Ochem, A., Triolo, G., Falaschi, A. 2001 Identification of human DNA helicase V with the far upstream element-binding protein. Nucleic Acids Res. 29, 1061-1067

Falaschi, A. 2000. Eukaryotic DNA replication: a model for a fixed double replisome. Trends Genet. 16, 88-92

De Stanchina, E., Gabellini, D., Norio, P., Giacca, M., Peverali, F., Riva, S., Falaschi, A., Biamonti, G. 2000. Selection of homeotic proteins for binding to a human DNA replication origin. J. Mol. Biol. 299, 667-680

Abdurashidova, G., Deganuto, M., Klima, R., Riva, S., Biamonti, G., Giacca M., Falaschi A. 2000. Start sites of bidirectional DNA synthesis at the human lamin B2 origin. Science 287, 2023-2026 PubMed link