Serena Zacchigna

Group Leader
Cardiovascular Biology
International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
Padriciano 99
34149 Trieste, Italy
E-mail: [email protected] 
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 50 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

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, Colliva A, Leban M, 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:cvaa012. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvaa012

Colliva A., Braga L., Giacca M., Zacchigna S. Endothelial-cardiomyocyte cross-talk in heart development and disease. J Physiol. 2019 Feb 28. doi: 10.1113/JP276758

Rehman M, Vodret S, Braga L, Guarnaccia C, Celsi F, Rossetti G, Martinelli V, Battini T, Long C, Vukusic K, Kocijan T, Collesi C, Ring N, Skoko N, Giacca M, Del Sal G, Confalonieri M, Raspa M, Marcello A, Myers MP, Crovella S, Carloni P, Zacchigna S.  High-throughput screening discovers antifibrotic properties of haloperidol hindering myofibroblast activation. JCI Insight, Apr 18;4(8).

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.

Ottaviani G, Martinelli V, Rupel K, Caronni N, Naseem A, Zandonà L, Perinetti G, Gobbo M, Di Lenarda R, Bussani R, Benvenuti F, Giacca M, Biasotto M, Zacchigna S.Laser Therapy Inhibits Tumor Growth in Mice by Promoting Immune Surveillance and Vessel Normalization. EBioMedicine.  2016 Sep;11:165-172.

Ruozi G, Bortolotti F, Falcione A, Dal Ferro M, Ukovich L, Macedo A, Zentilin L, Filigheddu N, Gortan Cappellari G, Baldini G, Zweyer M, Barazzoni, R, Graziani A, Zacchigna S, Giacca M. AAV-mediated in vivo functional selection identifies ghrelin as an inducer of myoprotective autophagy. Nat Commun. 2015 Jun 11;6:7388

Zacchigna S, Zentilin L, Giacca M. Adeno-associated virus vectors as therapeutic and investigational tools in the cardiovascular system. Circ Res. 2014 May 23;114(11):1827-46

Puente BN, Kimura W, Muralidhar SA, Moon J, Amatruda JF, Phelps KL, Grinsfelder D, Rothermel BA, Chen R, Garcia JA, Santos CX, Thet S, Mori E, Kinter MT, Rindler PM, Zacchigna S, Mukherjee S, Chen DJ, Mahmoud AI, Giacca M, Rabinovitch PS, Aroumougame A, Shah AM, Szweda LI, Sadek HA. The oxygen-rich postnatal environment induces cardiomyocyte cell-cycle arrest through DNA damage response. Cell. 2014 Apr 24;157(3):565-79.

Eulalio AMano MFerro MDZentilin LSinagra GZacchigna S, Giacca M. Functional screening identifies miRNAs inducing cardiac regeneration. Nature. 2012 Dec 20;492(7429):376-81.