Serena Zacchigna

Group Leader
Cardiovascular Biology
International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
Padriciano 99
34149 Trieste, Italy
Tel: +39-040-3757354/214


Faculty of Medicine, University of Trieste, Italy, MD, 2000
Admitted to the Medical Doctors and Surgeons Register, 2001
International School for Advanced Studies (ISAS), Trieste, Italy, PhD, 2005

Career History

Since January 2015, Group Leader, Cardiovascular Biology Laboratory, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, ICGEB, Trieste, Italy
2007-2014, Staff Scientist, Molecular Medicine Laboratory, ICGEB Trieste, Italy.
2006-2007, Postdoctoral Fellow (Marie Curie EIF), Center for Transgene Technology & Gene Therapy, Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB)/KU Leuven, Belgium.
2001-2005, PhD Student at the ISAS/ICGEB Trieste, Italy.
1994-2000, Pre-doctoral student and fellow at ICGEB, Trieste, Italy.

Scientific Activity

Main research interests focus on the understanding of the cellular and molecular interactions controlling vessel formation and tissue growth in development and disease, with special attention to the cross-talk between endothelial cells, immune cells, mesenchymal stromal cells, cancer cells and cardiomyocytes. The overall goal of current research activity is to develop novel therapeutic approaches for tissue revascularization and cancer. Past research interests have focused on the use of AAV vectors and synthetic miRNAs to induce angiogenesis and cardiac regeneration, as well as on role of angiogenic factors in neuronal and retina degeneration. S. Zacchigna also works in close collaboration with the clinical and industrial sector to understand the mechanism of action and optimize clinical protocols of low-power laser therapy.

She regularly reviews scientific manuscripts for international journals in the fields of cardiac development, angiogenesis, cancer and cardiovascular disorders, and presents her research results at national and international meetings. She has published over 110 papers in peer-reviewed international journals and 10 invited reviews or chapters in published books and university text books.

Teaching Activity

Since 2008, Lecturer, PhD Courses at ICGEB and University of Nova Gorica, Italy.
Since 2006, Supervisor, PhD students at KU Leuven, University of Trieste and ICGEB.
Since 2001, External Professor, course in Gene Therapy and Stem Cells, Medical School, University of Trieste.

Selected Publications

Zacchigna S on PubMed

Cappelletto, A. et al. EMID2 is a novel biotherapeutic for aggressive cancers identified by in vivo screening. J Exp Clin Cancer Res 43, 15, doi:10.1186/s13046-023-02942-4 (2024).

Volpe, M. C. et al. Flt1 produced by lung endothelial cells impairs ATII cell transdifferentiation and repair in pulmonary fibrosis. Cell Death Dis 14, 437, doi:10.1038/s41419-023-05962-2 (2023).

Vuerich, R. et al. Ischemic wound revascularization by the stromal vascular fraction relies on host-donor hybrid vessels. NPJ Regen Med 8, 8, doi:10.1038/s41536-023-00283-6 (2023).

Gioia, U. et al. SARS-CoV-2 infection induces DNA damage, through CHK1 degradation and impaired 53BP1 recruitment, and cellular senescence. Nat Cell Biol 25, 550-564, doi:10.1038/s41556-023-01096-x (2023).

Ciucci, G., Colliva, A., Vuerich, R., Pompilio, G. & Zacchigna, S. Biologics and cardiac disease: challenges and opportunities. Trends Pharmacol Sci, doi:10.1016/ (2022).

Vukicevic, S. et al. Bone morphogenetic protein 1.3 inhibition decreases scar formation and supports cardiomyocyte survival after myocardial infarction. Nature communications 13, 81, doi:10.1038/s41467-021-27622-9 (2022).

Ciucci G, Colliva A, Vuerich R, Pompilio G, Zacchigna S. Biologics and cardiac disease: challenges and opportunities.  Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2022 Jun 29:S0165-6147(22)00128-6.

Vukicevic S, Colliva A, Kufner V, Martinelli V, Moimas S, Vodret S, Rumenovic V, Milosevic M, Brkljacic B, Delic-Brkljacic D, Correa R, Giacca M, Maglione M, Bordukalo-Niksic T, Dumic-Cule I, Zacchigna S. Bone morphogenetic protein 1.3 inhibition decreases scar formation and supports cardiomyocyte survival after myocardial infarction.  Nat Commun. 2022 Jan 10;13(1):81.

Zacchigna S, Paldino A, Falcão-Pires I, Daskalopoulos EP, Dal Ferro M, Vodret S, Lesizza P, Cannatà A, Miranda-Silva D, Lourenço AP, Pinamonti B, Sinagra G, Weinberger F, Eschenhagen T, Carrier L, Kehat I, Tocchetti CG, Russo M, Ghigo A, Cimino J, Hirsch E, Dawson D, Ciccarelli M, Oliveti M,  Linke WA, Cuijpers I, Heymans S, Hamdani N, de Boer M, Duncker D, Kuster D, van der Velden J, Beauloye C, Bertrand L, Mayr M, Giacca M, Leuschner F, Backs J, Thum T on behalf of the Working  Group on Myocardial Function of the European Society of Cardiology. Toward standardization of echocardiography for the evaluation of left ventricular function in adult rodents: a position paper of the ESC Working Group on Myocardial Function.  Cardiovasc Res 2020, May 4:cvaa110. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvaa110.

Kocijan, T, Rehman M, CollivaA, LebanM, Vodret S, Volf N, Zucca G, Cappelletto A, Zhou B, Adams R, Zentilin L, Giacca M and Zacchigna S. Genetic lineage tracing reveals poor angiogenic potential of cardiac endothelial cells,  Cardiovasc Res 2020 Jan 30; 117(1):256-270.

Gabisonia K, Prosdocimo G, Aquaro GD, Carlucci L, Zentilin L, Secco I, Ali H, Braga L, Gorgodze N, Bernini F, Burchielli S, Collesi C, Zandonà L, Sinagra G, Piacenti M, Zacchigna S, Bussani R, Recchia FA, Giacca M. MicroRNA therapy stimulates uncontrolled cardiac repair after myocardial infarction in pigs. Nature. 2019 May;569(7756):418-422.

Zacchigna S, Martinelli V, Moimas S, Colliva A, Anzini M, Nordio A, Costa A, Pierro C, Colussi G, Rehman M, Vodret S, Zentilin L, Gutierrez M, Dirkx E, Long C, Sinagra G, Klatzmann D, and Giacca M. Paracrine effect of regulatory T cells promotes cardiomyocyte proliferation during pregnancy and after myocardial infarction. Nature Communications 2018, Jun 26;9(1):2432.