Arturo Falaschi

Prof. Arturo Falaschi, MD, PhD, was the mind and driving force in the founding and development of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.

ICGEB was established in September 1983 through the signing of its Statutes by the visionaries who recognised the need for developing and applying peaceful uses of genetic engineering and biotechnology for the benefit of mankind.

Among these was Arturo Falaschi, Group Leader of the Molecular Biology Laboratory from 1987 to 2010, Head of the Trieste Component of ICGEB from 1987-1989, Director-General of the Centre from 1989-2004, and Distinguished Scientist from 2004-2010, upon whose legacy the ICGEB is built.

Pictured above, Arturo Falaschi, with Renu and Narendra Tuteja ICGEB Principal Investigators welcome Nobel laureate Rita Levi Montalcini during her visit to the ICGEB premises in 1989.

On 11 November 2010, the Headquarters of the Centre, located in the AREA Science Park, Trieste, Italy was dedicated to his memory.


The “Arturo Falaschi ICGEB Fellowship Programme” open to PhD and Postdoctoral applicants from ICGEB Member States, officially renamed in 2012, represents an exciting opportunity to interact with people all over the world in state-of-the-art scientific environments and in all the top scientific institutes. Youth, essential to nurturing a brighter and more equitable future, constitutes the backbone of the ICGEB’s training programmes that have been operating for over three decades across the world.


The Arturo Falaschi Conference series, featuring major meetings in the fields of Life Sciences was launched in 2012. Spanning topics in Cardiac and Vascular Regeneration, DNA Tumour Viruses, DNA Replication and Genome Maintenance, and Atypical dementias, the 2023 editions included the Conference held in Trieste: “1st biennial conference on TDP-43 function and dysfunction in disease”, and in October, in Cape Town: “Advances in prostate and cervical cancer research“.

The Arturo Falaschi Conferences have been included in the general schedule of the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD).

In 2024, the Arturo Falaschi Conference will be held in Trieste from 16-21 July 2024 on DNA Tumour Viruses.

Arturo Falaschi

Graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Milan, Italy, MD (Hons) in 1957. From 1959-61 he was Fellow at the University of Ferrara, Italy, with Prof. E. Boeri, before moving to the USA as a Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin, with Prof. J. Adler and Prof. H.G. Khorana. Between 1962-1965, he was a Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry at Stanford University, CA, with Prof. A. Kornberg.

He returned to Italy in 1965 where he was Researcher at the Italian National Research Council, CNR, Institute of Genetics, University of Pavia, and Professor from 1966-1969. From 1970 he served for 19 years as Director of the “Istituto di Genetica Biochimica ed Evoluzionistica”, CNR, Pavia, and between 1970-73, was President of the Italian Society for Biophysics and Molecular Biology SIBBM.

From 1971 until 2010, he was Director of Research of the Italian National Research Council, CNR, and Director of the “Progetto Finalizzato Ingegneria Genetica”, between 1982 and 1989.

In 1987, as Head of the Trieste Component, he established the Headquarters and laboratories of the ICGEB in Italy, where he served as Director and Director-General from 1989 to 2004, remaining Distinguished Scientist at ICGEB Trieste until 2010. From 2004 to 2010 he was the Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Scuola Normale Superiore, SNS, Pisa.


His teaching activity spanned six decades, from 1966 (Professor of Molecular Biology at the Univ. of Pavia), to 2010 (Professor of Molecular Biology at the Scuola Normale Superiore SNS, Pisa).
Between 1978-1984, he was Director of the Graduate School of Genetics, University of Pavia, and from 1988 to 2001, Co-ordinator of the Graduate School of Molecular Genetics of the International School of Advanced Studies SISSA, Trieste

Scientific Research

Prof. Arturo Falaschi made numerous, important scientific contributions in the field of replication studies of DNA in mammalian cells; research and personal passion that distinguished his 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. He identified and characterised the Lamin B2 origin of DNA replication, the first human origin known in molecular detail, now considered a standard in the field. He also undertook intense biochemical activity in the field of DNA metabolism, particularly in the purification and characterisation of human proteins with helicase activity. He authored more than 130 scientific research publications in top international journals in the field of molecular research, and 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 along the three lines: Regulation of human DNA replication at the molecular level; 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), and methodologies for gene therapy (developing conditions for the production of AAV-based vectors in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and the 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