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Personal profile


09/2021 - present: PI Manchester Cancer Center

03/2016 - present: Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellow at Division of Cellular&Molecular Function, School of Biological Sciences, FBMH, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

02/2013 - 02/2016: Senior Postdoctoral Fellow at NNF-CPR (Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research), University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark (Group of Prof. J.V. Olsen).

01/2010 - 01/2013: Postdoctoral Fellow (Marie Curie Intra European (IEF) and EMBO Long Term Postdoctoral Fellowships) at NNF-CPR (Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research), University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark (Group of Prof. J.V. Olsen).

05/2009 - 12/2009: Postdoctoral fellow at FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology (IFOM) and European Institute of Oncology (IEO), Milan, Italy (Group of Dr. U. Cavallaro).

02/2005 - 04/2009: PhD student at SEMM (European School of Molecular Medicine), FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology (IFOM) and European Institute of Oncology (IEO), Milan, Italy. Title of the doctoral thesis in Molecular Medicine: The adhesion molecule NCAM is a master regulator of Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor (FGFR) activity. Supervisors: Dr. U. Cavallaro and Prof. G. Christofori (University of Basel, Switzerland)

10/1998 - 04/2004: Master Degree in Industrial Biotechnology at University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy.


Research interests

Functional proteomics to explore how endocytic recycling of receptor tyrosine kinases specifies cellular responses

    Endocytic trafficking of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) from and to the plasma membrane elicit specific and dynamic intracellular signalling cascades and ultimately affect cellular responses (i.e. cell proliferation and migration) (Sigismund et al., 2012). Despite the importance of endocytosis during development and in physio-pathological processes, mechanisms underlying the recycling of RTKs to the plasma membrane after internalization are still poorly understood. High-resolution examination of key regulators of receptor recycling-mediated cellular outputs is crucial for identifying novel signaling nodes amenable to therapeutic intervention in those human diseases, including cancer, characterized by aberrant RTK trafficking.

    Omics methodologies are transforming modern biology. In particular, functional proteomics integrates the wide-ranging identification and quantification of signaling events by Mass Spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics with bioinformatics and functional assays in cell culture and/or tissues (Francavilla et al., 2013). Such a comprehensive approach which enables the characterization of thousands of proteins, their post-translational modifications, such as phosphorylation and ubiquitylation, and interaction partners, has been successfully used for studying, among others, Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor (FGFR) or Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) signaling at an unprecedented level of depth (Emdal et al., 2015; Francavilla et al., 2013). Moreover, cell signaling dynamics can be analyzed at multiple levels over different time scales by temporal proteomics (Francavilla et al., 2014). 

    The group focuses on the FGFR family composed of seven receptors and eighteen secreted ligands because this family of RTKs have major roles during development (Dorey and Amaya, 2012), is deregulated in several genetic diseases and in cancer (Fearon et al., 2013; Katoh, 2008), and represent a relevant system to study how different ligand-receptor pairs and their trafficking routes dynamically regulate a great variety of cellular outputs.

By combining functional proteomics with in vivo studies, our research aims at understanding:

1. why different ligands of a receptor either promote receptor degradation or recycling;

2. which are the underlying molecular mechanisms and key regulators;

3. what are the differences between receptor signal from different sub-cellular compartments;

4. whether signals controlling long-term responses can be encoded by the trafficking of receptors;

5. how these signals can be manipulated in vivo.


The lab focuses on exploring how the trafficking of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) from and to the plasma membrane can elicit specific cellular responses. We use a highly multidisciplinary approach named ‘functional proteomics’, which integrates quantitative Mass Spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics, bioinformatics analysis, functional assays and imaging techniques. Our research aims at uncovering the molecular mechanisms underlying the intracellular trafficking of RTKs, resultant signaling specificity, and downstream outputs during development and cancer progression. The final goal hereby is to identify and characterize proteins with key roles in RTK signaling and trafficking that can be targeted for intervention in human diseases.

Social responsibility

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

02/2022 - present

Member of the Biotechnology Beacon Board

01/2018 - present

Member of British Society for Biochemistry

09/2017 - present

Junior Academic Lead of the Bio-MS core group, FBMH

10/2016 - 09/2019

Member of the Cellular and Developmental Systems Domain Core Group, FBMH

09/2016 - present

Funder of Fellows Forum and Representative of Non-Clinical Fellows in FBMH

05/2016 - present

Member of British Society for Cell Biology (BSCB) and of British Society for Proteomics Research (BSPR)

My group

Jennifer Haworth, technicain

Paul Fullwood, Experimental Officer

Joanne Watson, PDRA

Harriet Ferguson, BBSRC-funded PhD student 2018-2022

Joseph Parsons, MCRC-funded PhD student 2018-2022

Hanyi Mo, self-funded PhD student

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Fellow of HEA, The University of Manchester

2020 → …

External positions

PI, Manchester Cancer Research Center

2021 → …

Areas of expertise

  • Q Science (General)
  • signaling
  • quantitative proteomics
  • endocytosis
  • receptor tyrosine kinases
  • FGFR
  • Biotechnology
  • Breast cancer
  • stress factors

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Biotechnology
  • Cancer


  • cell signaling
  • quantitative proteomics
  • phopshoproteomics
  • Mass spectrometry
  • receptor tyrosine kinases
  • receptor trafficking
  • endocytosis
  • Cell migration
  • cell proliferation
  • breast cancer


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