Sara G.M. Piccirillo, PhD

Biography

Dr. Piccirillo is an Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine with a secondary appointment in the Department of Neurosurgery.

Dr. Piccirillo graduated at the University of Milan (Italy) in Medical Biotechnology in 2003 and gained a Ph.D. in Translational and Molecular Medicine in 2008 at the University of Milan-Bicocca.

For her post-doctoral training, Dr. Piccirillo was awarded a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship in 2010 and worked as a Research Associate in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences of Cambridge University (UK). In February 2011, she was elected as a Research Fellow of Hughes Hall, one of the 31 colleges in Cambridge. In 2013, Dr. Piccirillo started a collaboration with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas (US) and visited the institution between 2014-2016 as Visiting Senior Scientist.

In 2016, Dr. Piccirillo was recruited to UT Southwestern Medical Center as Faculty Member of Internal Medicine and in 2018 she was promoted to Assistant Professor at the same institution. In 2019, Dr. Piccirillo joined the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center as a Tenure-Track Assistant Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology and Full Member of the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Areas of Specialty

  • Brain tumors
  • Neural stem cells
  • Cancer genomics

Achievements & Awards

  • 2021 - AACR-Novocure Tumor Treating Fields Research Grant, American Association for Cancer Research and Novocure
  • 2019 - Gianni Bonadonna Prize for New Drug Development in Oncology, Gianni Bonadonna Foundation and Prada Group
  • 2017 - DocStars Award, The Cary Council - Southwestern Medical Foundation
  • 2016 - New Investigator Research Award, Cancer Research UK to support the collaborative project with UT Southwestern Medical Center
  • 2014 - Master of Arts (Honorary), University of Cambridge, UK
  • 2011-2016 - Research Fellowship at Hughes Hall College, Cambridge, UK
  • 2011-2013 - Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship for Career Development, European Commission
  • 2010 - Young Investigator Award, British Neuro-Oncology Society and Brain Tumour Research, UK
  • 2007 - Best Young Italian Researcher, Premio Sapio Award

Key Publications

  • S.G.M. Piccirillo, B.A. Reynolds, N. Zanetti, G. Lamorte, E. Binda, G. Broggi, H. Brem, A. Olivi, F. Dimeco, A.L.Vescovi. Bone morphogenetic proteins inhibit the tumorigenic potential of human brain tumour-initiating cells. Nature, 2006 Dec 7; 444(7120):761-765.
  • I. Spiteri, G. Caravagna, G. Cresswell, A. Vatsiou, D. Nichol, A. Acar, L. Ermini, K. Chkhaidze, B. Werner, R. Mair, E. Brognaro, G. Sanguinetti, S.G.M. Piccirillo*, C. Watts*, A. Sottoriva*. Evolutionary dynamics of residual disease in human glioblastoma. Annals of Oncology, 2019 Mar 1; 30(3):456-463. *=corresponding and senior author.

Gender

Female

Languages

English, Italian

Research

Our research interests lie at the intersection of Stem Cell & Cancer Biology and Cancer Genomics. Specifically, we investigate the genetic and functional heterogeneity of tumor stem-like cells that initiate and sustain the growth of the most aggressive brain tumor in adults, i.e. glioblastoma. We integrate genomic measurements with phenotypic analysis and use this information to gain mechanistic insights into the development of therapeutic resistance.