Consorzio Interuniversitario per le Biotecnologie – Laboratorio Nazionale CIB

Trieste, Italy

The Consorzio Interuniversitario per le Biotecnologie – Laboratorio Nazionale CIB (LNCIB) was founded in 1992 and focuses on the investigation of biological mechanisms that lead to the formation and advancement of tumors. Today, LNCIB is a competitive and internationally renowned cancer research institution embedded in Area Science Park, the science and technology park in Padriciano, Trieste.
LNCIB represents a centre of excellence in the filed of biotechnology and has been certified as “Highly qualified laboratory for applied research and for functional cancer genomics” by the Region Friuli Venezia Giulia.
A main goal of the institute is to transfer results from basic research to the clinic, but also to act as centre of know-how and training. LNCIB has been training new generations of researchers and research technicians in cancer biology. Each year numerous students in Master and PhD students get enrolled in research projects carried out at the LNCIB.
The institute is also a reference centre, in Friuli Venezia Giulia, for the development of new, enabling technologies in the field of cancer research.
The high level of its research in the field of molecular oncology is granted by the profile and expertise of LNCIB researchers, and also by the network of collaborations with regional Universities and regional, national and international research entities.
LNCIB has a surface of 300 square meters of equipped laboratories, and more than 45 researchers of diverse national and international origin who work in 5 different research groups, on 12 diverse research programs.

The research carried out at LNCIB focuses on the main biological mechanisms of cancer cells. The final goal of this activity is to develop a detailed knowledge on the molecular mechanisms that enable the formation and progression of tumors, in order to define “Achilles heels” of the disease.

The operative units working on these themes are:

  • the Functional Genomics Unit,
  • the Molecular Oncology Unit,
  • the Differentiation and Ontogenesis Unit,
  • the Onco-epigenetics Unit, and
  • the Genomic Stability Unit.

The research activity of these units is supported by Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro (AIRC), Telethon, European Commission, Italian Ministry for Education, Universities and Research, Region Friuli Venezia Giulia, private foundations and donations.

The Consorzio Interuniversitario per le Biotecnologie – Laboratorio Nazionale CIB is Lead Partner in PreCanMed.

Group leader

Stefan Schoeftner

Stefan Schoeftner is Principle Investigator of the Genomic Stability Group at the Consorzio per le Biotecnologie – Laboratorio Nazionale (LNCIB, Trieste), and Associate Professor in Molecular Biology at the the University of Trieste, Department of Life Sciences.
Schoeftner studied Biology at the University of Vienna (Austria). He obtained the PhD from the same University, working at the Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna.
He performed his post-doctoral research at the Spanish National Cancer Center (CNIO) in Madrid and in Italy at LNCIB, in Trieste. He opened his independent research group at the Italian National Cancer Research Institute, Regina Elena in Rome (Italy) in 2011. In 2013 Stefan Schoeftner transferred his research group to LNCIB in Trieste. Since 2015 he has been holding the position of Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Trieste, Department of Life Sciences.

The research interest of Stefan Schoeftner has been focused on understanding key processes that impact on the stability and structure of the cancer genome and the development of novel, cell based tools for cancer research.
During his career Stefan Schoeftner discovered mechanisms that coordinate the inactivation of chromatin structures of an entire chromosome, a process called X inactivation (Schoeftner et al. EMBO Journal, 2006). He investigated the mechanism that links chromatin structure to the mechanisms that ensure the stability of DNA sequences, named telomeres, that protect the ends of chromosomes (Schoeftner et al. PNAS 2009). Further, he discovered RNA molecules derived from transcription of telomeres and having an impact on protecting the their function (Schoeftner and Blasco, Nat Cell Biol, 2008). Later on, his team identified a role for small RNAs, so called miRNAs, in controlling telomere and genomic stability in human breast cancer cells (Dinami et al. Cancer Res 2014, Dinami et al. 2017). More recently, collaborative efforts with Roberta Benetti (University of Udine, Italy) unraveled a mechanism that controls the identity and genomic stability of stem cells and cancer cells (Scarola et al. Nat Comm 2015; Commiso et al. Oncotarget 2017).

To date he has authored 18 peer-reviewed scientific publications including research articles and reviews. In addition, Stefan Schoeftner is holding a patent on the use of telomeric transcripts as diagnostic and therapeutic agent (PCT/EP2008/010661).

Team member

Mariangela Santorsola

Mariangela Santorsola is a postdoctoral researcher at LNCIB, Trieste, since July 2017, with a Master’s Degree in Biological Science at University of Bari. She received her research training in Bioinformatics from the University of Sannio and Institute for Biomedical Technologies - National Research Council (ITB-CNR), Italy.
Her research interests are focused on application of bioinformatics methods in human cancer genomics.
During her PhD research, she focused on the investigation of variants underlying tumors and mitochondrial disorders (Vidone et al. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2015). She developed a phylogeny-based method to prioritise mitochondrial variants of clinical interest (Santorsola et al. Hum Genet 2016) and contributed to developing and maintaining databases and tools for analysis of High-Throughput Sequencing data (e.g. Whole Exome and Genome Sequencing data) (Clima et al. Nucleic Acids Res. 2017; Calabrese et al. Bioinformatics 2014).
As a postdoctoral fellow at ITB-CNR, she was involved in the development of a pipeline to support metagenomics data analysis.

She co-authored 6 scientific publications on ISI-impacted journals.

Team member

Odessa Schillaci

Odessa Schillaci is a postdoctoral researcher of the Genomic Stability Group of Professor Stefan Schoeftner at LNCIB, in Trieste.
She obtained her international PhD in Immuno-Pharmacology from the University of Palermo. She had her research training at the Department of Biopathology and Medical Biotechnologies (University of Palermo, Italy), at the Laboratory Medicine, Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute (Los Angeles, USA), and at the Department of Biological, Chemical, and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies (University of Palermo, Italy).

Odessa Schillaci joined Professor Schoeftner’s laboratory in May 2017 to study and develop conditions for the cultivation, molecular characterization and conservation of lung and mesothelium tumor-organoids to provide a rational for efforts in defining strategies for precision cancer therapies in an experimental laboratory setting.

During her PhD she focused her attention on the identification of the molecular mechanisms underlying intercellular communication in cancer. She was involved in the isolation, molecular characterization and functional roles of tumor-derived exosomes and other extracellular vesicles, recently emerged as important mediators of the horizontal propagation of oncogenic signaling locally and at distance (Raimondi et al. Oncotarget, 2015; Schillaci et. al Scientific Reports, 2017).

With her research, Odessa Schillaci contributed to understand the mechanism of intercellular communication in cancer by demonstrating that tumor derived exosomes positively regulate metastasis not only by favoring the development of pre-metastatic niches that allow tumor growth in secondary sites, but also by inducing a rush of the initial steps of the metastatic cascade already in primary tumor sites, where heterogeneous sub-clones co-exist (Schillaci et. al Scientific Reports, 2017).

To date she has authored 6 peer-reviewed scientific publications.