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Raffaella Di Micco awarded with the Robertson Stem Cell Prize

Raffaella Di Micco, researcher at the San Raffaele-Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy (SR-Tiget) in Milan, just received the New York Stem Cell Foundation's Robertson Stem Cell Prize 2020, a prestigious American funding of $1.5 million over 5 years. This is the first time the award is given to a researcher working in Italy. Thanks to the support of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, Raffaella Di Micco and her research group will work on the development of new therapeutic approaches to gene therapy for the treatment of hereditary blood diseases.

What is the Robertson Stem Cell Prize

Conferred by the New York Stem Cell Foundation, it is an award dedicated to scientists from around the world working on pioneering new approaches to stem cell research. "I am particularly proud of this award: it is the first time ever that the Robertson Stem Cell Prize is given to a researcher working in Italy," comments Raffaella Di Micco.

"Thanks to this funding my team and I will be able to investigate how to further increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the innovative therapeutic strategies based on the engineering of blood stem cells, which in recent years have already given extraordinary results for the treatment of rare genetic diseases".

Raffaella Di MiccoRaffaella Di Micco

Raffaella Di Micco

Di Micco’s project will also use the Crispr-Cas9 technology, a genetic system developed by Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry this year. The technology makes possible to act very precisely on DNA and has opened important perspectives for rare genetic diseases, among many other things.

Raffaella Di Micco

After a 5-year post-doc experience at New York University, Raffaella Di Micco is now group leader of the Senescence in stem cell aging, differentiation and cancer laboratory at the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy in Milan (SR-Tiget). With her research group, she studies the molecular mechanisms governing the response of human hematopoietic stem cells to different genetic engineering strategies, such as gene therapy and genetic editing.

Raffaella Di Micco chose to return from America to Italy not only because it is her birthplace: “In comparison with other opportunities in Europe, SR-Tiget offered a unique translational environment, a place ere basic research and clinical innovation in gene and cell therapies are really changing the life of patients", says the researcher.