Department of Experimental Oncology - Istituto Europeo di Oncologia - Milano

The European Institute of Oncology is a comprehensive cancer centre that is characterized by the integration of basic, epidemiological and clinical research. The basic research centre is located within the IFOM-IEO campus for oncogenomics, which is a collaboration of two institutions (IEO and IFOM) sharing common facilities. The Campus, host about 450 scientists investigating the most advanced frontiers of cancer-related research, with a marked focus on the transferability of research. Researchers working in different fields of research including inflammation, immunology and microbiology, functional genomics and structural biology work in close interaction. 

Research and Training Expertise

The Research Unit on dendritic cell (DC) Biology is a leader team on the biology of DC, in particular considering the role of mucosal DC in bacterial handling in the intestine. It was the 1st to describe the existence of a new mechanism of bacterial uptake across mucosal surfaces that is mediated by DC. The Unit has developed both in vitro and ex-vivo systems that allow study on the interaction between DC, epithelial cells and bacteria/bacterial products at mucosal surfaces.

SEMM (European School of Molecular Medicine) is a private foundation for higher education in biomedicine that is promoted by 3 Italian Government ministries. SEMM promotes training and research within emerging sectors of biomedicine through an array of state of the art, original, multidisciplinary activities, including graduate programs, international events, and scientific seminars. SEMM in collaboration with the Italian Universities organizes three international PhD programs in Molecular Medicine, Medical Nanotechnology and Foundation of Life Sciences and their Ethical Consequences. The training platform is based both on the development of technical skills through intensive laboratory work and on the acquisition of new theoretical tools through specifically designed courses. More than 100 students (supervised by 29 scientists) are currently enrolled in the Milan branch located at the IFOM-IEO campus. 

Key persons involved

Maria Rescigno is the director of the Research Unit on Dendritic Cell Biology and Immunotherapy. She is leader in the field of DC biology, authoring 60 publications in peer-reviewed journals. Maria Rescigno has been recently nominated EMBO young investigator.

Marcello Chieppa is a senior scientist; he spent the last 4 years at NIH (R. Germain) to establish the 2-photon technology for in vivo studies of cell-cell and bacteria-cell interactions.

Gianluca Matteoli is a senior postdoctoral fellow specialized in host-microbes interactions and on in vivo models of infections. The laboratory works in close collaboration with the one of Dr. Silvio Danese at Humanitas (Milan) is a gastroenterologist specialized in translational research working at the Catholic university school of medicine in the laboratory of immunology. Both groups are interested in dissecting biological functions on human samples from IBD patients

Material Ressources

The Campus is equipped with many facilities: Imaging, Bio-computing, Cristallography, functional genomics, Molecular pathology, Monoclonal antibodies and animal facility. Major equipments include Confocal fluorescence microscope, time-lapse video-microscopy, micro-injectors, FACS, FACS sorter, Automated DNA sequencer.

In the Campus, the SEMM is organizing International events covering themes within Molecular Oncology, Molecular Medicine and Nanotechnology. All SEMM activities are described on our website ( and individual international events are further advertised on websites linked to relevant fields and in the major international scientific journals. The Major Categories of Events are: 1) Workshops  and 2) Theoretical/Practical Courses.

Within our Campus we also have a Guest House that houses the students for 1 month or until they find an accommodation. We have an office that is in charge of helping incoming students to fulfil any administrative requirements (visa, national insurance, etc.)

3 Key publications

  • Chieppa M, Rescigno M, Huang AY, Germain RN. (2006) Dynamic imaging of dendritic cell extension into the small bowel lumen in response to epithelial cell TLR engagement. J Exp Med. 203:2841-52.[Pubmed]
  • Rimoldi M, Chieppa M, Vulcano M, Allavena P, Rescigno M. (2005) Dendritic cells activated by bacteria or by bacteria-stimulated epithelial cells are functionally different. Blood;106:2818-26.[Pubmed]
  • Rimoldi M, Chieppa M, Salucci V, Avogadri F, Sonzogni A, Sampietro GM, Nespoli A, Viale G, Allavena P, Rescigno M. (2005) Intestinal immune homeostasis is regulated by the cross-talk between epithelial cells and dendritic cells. Nat Immunol. 6:507-14.[Pubmed]