What ist IT-Liver all about ?




ITN Training Programme

Find out what IT-Liver is intending to deliver.



Find out more about who is involved.


Industrial Partners

Find out who supports us.


Important News & Events


TGF-ß Family in Research and Cancer

14-15 June 2016
Barcelona, Spain




A broad spectrum of scientific and technological capacities is needed to accomplish the goal of discovering drugs and treatment modalities for CLD and HCC. Following bi-lateral interactions, IT-LIVER’s partners have in the past year convened in person (Barcelona December 3 rd, 2009) and in several video conferences, to conclude that individual groups in European Universities, Research Institutes and private Companies may excel in the components of the requisite skills spectrum, but that no European network exists that brings together in an integrative way the expertise to provide a comprehensive research and training programme with the goal to combat CLD by
(i) unravelling the molecular and cellular complexities of TGF-β responses in CLD progression and
(ii) rationally designing and discovering CLD drugs, drug delivery systems and CLD treatment modalities.
As a result, there is a lack – in academia and industry alike - of internationally oriented researchers and research leaders, capable of seamless and bi-directional transfer of goal-oriented scientific knowledge and technologies between the basic, translational and clinical research and industrial capacities; a conditio sine qua nonfor effectively and efficiently combating CLD and HCC and alleviate its medical and socio-economic burdens.
Consequently, this ITN formulated the mission to provide a multidisciplinary and intersectorial Research Training Programme for talented young researchers, so as to prepare them for leading roles in CLD research and drug discovery in European industry and academia.


 Aims of the ITN Training Programme

The specific aims of the ITN Training programme are to:

  • provide talented early stage and experienced researchers (ESR/ER) a research training programme aimed at acquistion of  
    • state-of-the-art knowledge of the components of the skills spectrum needed to combat CLD, i.e. science and technologies of basic molecular liver cell biology, drug discovery and delivery systems and development of preclinical models and (pre)clinical treatment modalities.
    • the ability to assimilate the individual components of the skills spectrum such that they will be able to oversee and in a goal-oriented manner direct the multisectorial process of combatting diseases in general, but CLD in particular.

  • employability of its ESR/ERs in the higher ranks of academia and industry by enhancing their transferable skills e.g in writing and communication and intellectual property management, valorisation, enterpreneurship.

  • strengthen intersectorial research cooperation to advance our understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanims of CLD progression and to translate this knowledge into drug discovery and treatment modalities.


The aims of the training network will be channelled through the following activities:

  • Organizing different events (seminars, secondments, etc) which will provide specific and complementary training in skills essential for the early-stage researchers and give them a competitive edge.

  • A multi-disciplinary research programme for the study of TGF-β in liver diseases that will ensure a solid foundation in research technology and methods through two interacting and complementary research sub-programmes:
    • Molecular Mechanisms: Investigation of the complex regulatory networks that control liver development and pathology and the role of TGF-β in these processes. Design of appropriate strategies and technology to analyze the deregulation in the TGF-β pathway occurring in human CLD and especially in fibrosis and HCC.
    • Target Discovery and Preclinical Models: Design of new drugs to target TGF-β signalling (targeting, monitoring). New therapeutic approaches for drug delivery.

Here you can get more Information about the ITN-Training Programme



Network Participants

Peter ten Dijke PhD.
Leiden, The Netherlands

Steven Dooley, PhD.
Heidelberg, Germany

Isabel Fabregat, PhD.
Barcelona, Spain
Project Coordinator

Prof. Gianluigi Giannelli, M.D.
Bari, Italy

Stefano Leporatti, PhD.
Lecce, Italy

Wolfgang Mikulits, PhD.
Vienna, Austria

Aristidis Moustakas, PhD.
Uppsala, Sweden

Aránzazu Sánchez, PhD.
Madrid, Spain


madrid-166x125 karte heidelberg-166x125
idibell-barcelona-200x84 bari-200x83
lecce-200x190 upsala-200x190
wien-200x70 leids-200x65

Supervisory Board

The consortium will establish a Supervisory Board in which all Partners, one representative from the E(S)R and four external representatives will participate. The external participants are well recognized experts in their field:

Prof. Michael Trauner, MD, PhD.

Division of Gastroenterology and  Hepatology, Department of Internal  Medicine III, Medical Unversity of Vienna  (Vienna, Austria)

Prof. Joan Seoane, PhD.

Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (Barcelona, Spain)

Prof. Carl-Henrik Heldin, MD, PhD.

Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (Uppsala, Sweden)

Prof. Michael Lahn, MD, PhD.

Head of Clinical Development, Europe
Incyte Europe Sarl
Rue du Pré-de-la-Bichette, 1
CH-1202 Geneva


Industrial Partners

 galapagos genxpro  

Niina Veitonmäki

Alligator Bioscience
Lund, Sweden

Richard A.J. Janssen, PhD.

Discovery Site Head
Galapagos NV
Leiden, The Netherlands

Peter Winter, PhD.

GenXPro GmbH
Frankfurt am Main, Germany


Peter ten Dijke, PhD.

Peter ten Dijkereceived his Ph.D. degree in 1991 from Wageningen University, The Netherlands based on his research on the identification of the third isoform of TGFβ performed at Oncogene Science, Inc., New York, USA.

He did his postgraduate studies with Kohei Miyazono and Carl-Henrik Heldin at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR), Uppsala, Sweden.

In 1994, he became group leader at LICR and in 1999 he moved to the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

In 2005 he moved to the Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands, and is currently a professor of molecular cellbiology at Leiden University. His laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms by which TGFβ family members elicit their cellular effects via (co)receptors and in tracellular SMAD effectors, and how subverted TGF-beta family signalling is involved in cancer, vascular and liver diseases.

Steven Dooley, PhD.

Steven Dooley, Ph.D.is the head of the Department of Molecular Hepatology, which is associated to the Dept. of Medicine II of the Faculty of Medicine in Mannheim at Heidelberg University.

He has a long-standing research history for analyzing pathobiochemical mechanisms and signaling pathways in liver cells and chronic liver diseases. He has extensive experience in studies of molecular biology, cellbiology and imaging of primary liver cells from mouse, rat and human in different states of disease.

Further, his research comprises morphology analysis of healthy and damaged livers in animal models of chronic liver disease, HCC and during liver regeneration as well as in liver samples from patients with chronic liver diseases. In 2011, he was awarded guestprofessor at the Jiao Tong University, Medical School Shanghai.


Isabel Fabregat, PhD.

Isabel Fabregat

Present positions:

Senior Investigator, Head of the Laboratory of Molecular Oncology, Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and Associate professor, School of Medicine, University of Barcelona. President of the Spanish Society of Cell Biology (SEBC).

Dr. Fabregat’s group was established in the ComplutenseUniversity in Madrid in the middle of 90s to study molecular mechanisms that control hepatocyte proliferation, differentiation and death. The present research line started after finding that the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-b) played a relevant pro-apoptotic role in hepatocytes. The observation that some cells survived to its pro-apoptotic effect and underwent epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMT) opened the interest in the potential dual role of this factor in hepatocarcinogenesis.


After moving to the IDIBELL in Barcelona (2004), the group focused on the dissection of the molecular mechanisms induced by TGF-b in liver cells that can explain its different, and sometimes opposite, functions in liver pathologies, in particular fibrosis and hepatocarcinogenesis. Cross-talk among TGF-b and other pathways, in particular the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signalling, is also one of the current interests of the lab.  


1980                  B. Sc. Faculty of Biological Sciences. Autonoma Univ., Madrid, Spain.


1983                  PhD. Dep. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Faculty of Sciences. Autonoma Univ.Madrid, Spain.


1983-1986         Assistant Professor. Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Seville, Spain.


1987-1988         Postdoctoral. Inst. of Biochemistry (CSIC-ComplutenseUniv.), Madrid, Spain.


1989-1990         Postdoctoral in the Imperial Cancer Research, London, UK.


1990-2004         Associate professor. Faculty of Pharmacy. Complutense Univ., Madrid, Spain.


1997-1998         Visiting professor in the University of California, San Diego, USA.


Recent selected publications


  1. Sancho P, Mainez J, Crosas-Molist E, Roncero C, Fernández-Rodriguez CM, Pinedo F, Huber H, Eferl R, Mikulits W, Fabregat I. NADPH oxidase NOX4 mediates stellate cell activation and hepatocyte cell death during liver fibrosis development. PLoS One 2012; 7(9):e45285.
  2. Caja L, Sancho P, Bertran E, Fabregat I. Dissecting the effect of targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor on TGF-β-induced-apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells. Journal of Hepatology. 2011; 55:351-58.
  3. Franco DL, Mainez J, Vega S, Sancho P, Murillo MM, de Frutos CA, del Castillo G, López-Blau C, Fabregat* I and Nieto* MA (*: Co-corresponding authors). Snail1 suppresses TGF-b-induced apoptosis and is sufficient to trigger EMT in hepatocytes. Journal of Cell Science. 2010; 123:3467-77.
  4. Sancho P, Fabregat I. The NADPH oxidase NOX1 controls autocrine growth of liver tumor cells through up-regulation of the epidermal growth factor receptor pathway. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2010; 285:24815-24.
  5. Caja L, Sancho P, Bertran E, Iglesias-Serret D, Gil J, Fabregat I. Overactivation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathway in liver tumor cells confers resistance to TGF-b-induced cell death through impairing up-regulation of the NADPH oxidase NOX4.Cancer Research. 2009, 69:7595-602.
  6. Carmona-Cuenca I, Roncero C, Sancho P, Caja L, Fausto N, Fernández M, Fabregat I. Up-regulation of the NADPH oxidase NOX4 by TGF-beta in hepatocytes is required for its pro-apoptotic activity. Journal of Hepatology. 2008, 49:965-76.


Teaching experience

Grade: Cell and Molecular Biology, Schools of Biology, Pharmacy and Medicine; Post-grade: PhD program of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the ComplutenseUniv. from 1990 until 2004. Now, involvement in the Master and PhD program of Biomedicine in the University of Barcelona. Supervisor of 11 doctoral theses. 6 more PhD students currently in the lab.


Prof. Gianluigi Giannelli, M.D.

Gianluigi Giannelli

Current position:  Associate Professor.

Address: Dipartimento dell’Emergenza e dei Trapianti d’Organo. Sezione di Medicina Interna, Allergologia ed Immunologia Clinica. Policlinico, Piazza G. Cesare 11, 70124-Bari (Work)

Tel.++39 (080) 5478-858 (work): Fax +39 (080) 5478-670


 Prof. Gianluigi Giannelli has documented experience in the field of  chronic liver disease as in both clinical and research aspects. He has studied the biological aspects of therapies to prevent the development of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. In particular HCC represents his main field of interest in both clinical and translational research. He has a proved experience in the clinical studies for the validation of biomarkers for diagnosis and management of patients with HCC. He has a large experience in the molecular mechanisms responsible for the progression of HCC and for the identification of new therapeutic targets in preclinical models.


1992-1993 Visiting scientist at the Institute of Virology (Rome), carrying out  studies on the biological role of Interferon in the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis.


1994             Visiting Scientist at the Institute of Experimental Oncology (Turin), carrying out  studies on  integrin expression and function in skin diseases related to Internal diseases.


1995             Visiting Scientist at the Laboratory of Histology (Bari), for studies regarding the remodelling of bone matrices and integrin expression.


1996-2000 Research Associate at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA.


2000- 2003 Assistant professor at the Department of Internal Medicine, Immunology and Infectious Disease. Section of Internal Medicine.


2004 to date Associate professor at the Department of Internal Medicine, Immunology and Infectious Disease. Section of Internal Medicine.


2005             to date Adjunct Assistant Professor, Cancer Biology Department, University of Vanderbilt.


2011             ICH-GCP Training


List of publications related to the project  


  1. Giannelli G., Fransvea E., Marinosci F., Bergamini C., Colucci S., Schiraldi O., Antonaci S. TGF-b1 triggers hepatocellular carcinoma invasiveness via a3b1 integrin. Am. J. Pathol. 161: 183, 2002.             
  2. Giannelli G., Bergamini C., Fransvea E., Sgarra C. Antonaci S.: Laminin-5 with Transforming Growth Factor-b1 induces Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition in Hepatocellular Carcinoma. Gastroenterology 5: 1375, 2005.
  3. Fransvea E., Angelotti U., Antonaci S., Giannelli G.: Blocking transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-b) up-regulates E-cadherin and reduces migration and invasion of HCC cells. Hepatology 47: 1557, 2008.
  4. E. Fransvea, A. Mazzocca, S. Antonaci, G. Giannelli. Targeting TGF-bRI inhibits activation of b1 integrin and blocks vascular invasion in Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC). Hepatology, 49:839, 2009
  5. Mazzocca A, Fransvea E, Lavezzari G, Antonaci S, Giannelli G. Inhibition of transforming growth factor beta receptor I kinase blocks hepatocellular carcinoma growth through neo-angiogenesis regulation. Hepatology, 50:1140, 2009.
  6. Mazzocca A, Fransvea E, Dituri F, Lupo L, Antonaci S, Giannelli G. Down-regulation of connective tissue growth factor by inhibition of TGF-β blocks the tumor-stroma cross-talk and  tumor progression  in HCC. Hepatology, 51:523, 2010.
  7. Fransvea E, Mazzocca A, Santamato A, Azzariti A, Antonaci S, Giannelli G. Kinase activation profile associated with TGF-β-dependent migration of HCC cells: a preclinical study. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 68:79, 2010.
  8. G. Giannelli, A. Mazzocca, E. Fransvea, M. Lahn, S. Antonaci. Inhibiting TGF-b signaling in hepatocellular carcinoma. BBA-Reviews on Cancer, 2:214, 2011

Stefano Leporatti, PhD.

Stefano Leporatti, Ph.D.
CNR Senior Researcher                                                                              

tel. +39 0832 298241                                                           

fax +39 0832 298237




CNR-Istituto Nanoscienze

National Nanotechnology Laboratory-NNL

Via Arnesano 16

73100 Lecce


Research interests


Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy and Scanning Force Microscopy

Molecular and Colloidal Force Spectroscopy

Layer-by-layer (LbL) polyelectrolyte multilayers

Colloidal Microparticles


Nanocarriers (nanocolloids, nanocapsules and nanotubes)

Halloysite Clay Nanotubes


Biographical sketch

Born in Rapallo (Genoa) on 17.11.1967.

Languages: Italian (Mother Tongue), English and German (excellent); February 1995: Laurea in Fisica @ Università of Genoa.

July 1999: Dr. Rer. Nat. (Ph.D.) in Fisica dello Stato Solido (Dr. Rer. Nat.) @ Universität Potsdam (Tutor: Prof. Dr. Helmuth Möhwald).

February 1999-February 2001 Postdoc @ Max-Planck-Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (Prof. Dr. H. Möhwald).

August 2001-April 2006: Research Scientist (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) @ Leipzig University (Prof. Dr. E. Donath).

May 2006-present: Senior Researcher and NanoCarriers and BioMechanics Group Leader @ National Nanotechnology Laboratory (NNL) of CNR-NANO in Lecce, Italy. S.L. published more than 130 Publications (>50 in Peer Reviewed papers, 3 book chapters and two invited Reviews) on biophysical nanostructures. He has participated to >80 Conferences/Workshops and has given 20 invited talks. Leporatti's total citation index is above 1,900 with a number of citation per Year > 150 and a h index of 20 (stand December 2012). S.L. is currently leading a group of 2 PhD students, 3 Graduate students and 1 Postdoc. Tutor of several Master/Ph.D students and referee of peer-reviewed Journals (e.g. ACS Nano, Nanomedicine, Langmuir, JCIS etc.). MIUR Referee. PI and Co-PI of Bilateral Projects (MAE), EU Project (STREP), Italian (FIRB, PRIN) and Regional Grants (PON).


Selected publications


  1. S. Leporatti et al., Langmuir 16, 4059 (2000) (Color Cover Issue).
  2. L. Dähne, S. Leporatti et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 123, 23, 5431-5436 (2001).
  3. X. Qiu, S. Leporatti et al., Langmuir 17, 5375 (2001) (awarded with a colour image in Editor’s Choice, Science vol. 293, August 24th 2001)
  4. Z. Dai, A. Voigt, S. Leporatti et al., Adv. Mat. 13, 17, 1339-1342 (2001) (Color Cover Issue).
  5. I. Estrela-Lopis, S. Leporatti et al., Soft Matter, 2009, 5, 214–219. (Hot Paper, Editor suggestion).
  6. S. Leporatti et al., Nanotechnology 2009, Vol. 20, 5 055103 (Paper of the month, Cover Page Issue).
  7. I. E Palamà, S. Leporatti et al., Nanomedicine 2010, 5, pp. 419-431.
  8. V. Vergaro et al. Biomacromolecules 2010, Vol. 11, pp 820-826.
  9. V. Vergaro et al. Adv. Drug Delivery Rev. 2011 Vol.63, Is. 9, pp. 847-864.


Running projects

-Nanocarriers for Cancer Therapy (MAE-Large Scale ITA-USA Bilateral Project-2008-2010)

-Progetto AIRC: "Locoregional delivery of unmethylated CpG-oligodeoxynucleotides for cancer therapy: preclinical and clinical studies" in collaboration with Prof. A. Balsari (Istituto Nazionale Tumori) (2011-2013)

-Progetto Industriale INNOVA Onlus " Delivery of bioactive compounds and anti-neoplastic drugs through tailored nano-encapsulation for biomedical applications" (2011-2013)

Wolfgang Mikulits, PhD.

Wolfgang Mikulits

is Associate Professor for Biochemistry at the Medical University of Vienna, Department of Medicine I, Division Institute of Cancer Research.

After receiving his PhD in Molecular Biology at the University of Vienna in 1996, he joined the group of Hartmut Beug as a postdoc at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, IMP, in Vienna.
In Hartmut Beug’s lab, he concentrated on the translational control during erythroblast differentiation and the consequences of oncogene cooperation.

In 1998, he moved to the Institute of Cancer Research and established his own research group by focusing on the mechanisms of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) in cancer progression, on tumor-stroma interaction and on the selective translation control during EMT and metastasis. He did pioneer work by describing the EMT of hepatocytes during liver carcinoma progression which is considered as a crucial event for the dissemination of hepatocarcinoma cells. In addition, he was the first in establishing a novel cellular hepatocyte model based on the loss of the ARF tumor suppressor. Since his first report in 2002, EMT of malignant hepatocytes has been more and more recognized by other international laboratories.

He has authored more than 60 peer-reviewed original research articles. In the IT-LIVER project, his group will focus on mouse and human models of hepatocellular EMT to investigate TGF-β dependent mechanisms of liver cancer cell invasion and intrahepatic metastasis. 3-dimensional cellular EMT models will be particularly exploited to assess novel anti-TGF-β drugs for their efficacy in antagonizing tumor cell invasion and in blocking trans-endothelial migration of hepatocellular carcinoma cells. 

Aristidis Moustakas, PhD.

Aristidis Moustakas, Ph.D.

Full Member, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research & Senior Investigator of the Swedish Cancer Society and Lecturer, Dept of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University, Sweden.


Dr. Aristidis Moustakas was born in Greece, completed his Bachelor’s degree in Biology at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and earned his Ph. D. in Genetics at the University of Minnesota, USA. In the early 1990s, he joined the laboratory of Dr. Harvey Lodish at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Massachusetts, USA, where he began to investigate the transforming growth factor β (TGFβ), a cell-to-cell signaling protein that regulates a wide spectrum of biological processes. He moved to the University of Crete at Heraklion as an adjunct Assistant Professor in 1996 and to Sweden in 1998 where he joined the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research-Uppsala Branch as an Assistant Member. He became Associate Member in 2004 and Full Member in 2010, when he also received a prestigious Senior Investigator position by the Swedish Cancer Society. In 2010 he also became affiliated with the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology at Uppsala University where he currently holds the position of Lecturer. In Uppsala he established the TGFβ Signaling Group in 2009, which today includes twelve members of ten different nationalities and the research covers signal transduction and cancer biology. In 2012 he also established his second laboratory, Signal Transduction and Epithelial Plasticity at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology.


1985    B.Sc., Dept. Biology, Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

1991    Ph.D., Dept. Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Minnesota, USA.

1991        Postdoctoral Fellow, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, USA.

1994    Special Scientist and Heavy Artillery Sergeant, Greek Army Forces, Rhodes and

Athens, Greece.      

1996       Adjunct Assistant Professor, Division of Basic Sciences, Department of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece.

1998       Assistant Member, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Uppsala, Sweden.

2004       Associate Member, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Uppsala, Sweden.

2010    Full Member, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Uppsala, Sweden.

2010       Senior Investigator, Dept. of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University, Sweden.

2011       Docent, Dept. of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University, Sweden.

2012       Lecturer, Dept. of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University, Sweden.


Recent selected publications

  1. 1.Tan, E.-J., Thuault, S., Caja, L., Carletti, T., Heldin, C.-H., and Moustakas, A. (2012) Regulation of Transcription Factor Twist Expression by the DNA Architectural Protein High Mobility Group A2 during Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition. J. Biol. Chem. 287, 7134-7145.
  2. 2.Sideridou, M., Zakopoulou, R., Evangelou, K., Liontos, M., Kotsinas, A., Rampakakis, E., Gagos, S., Kahata, K., Grabusic, K., Gkouskou, K., Trougakos, I.P., Kolettas, E., Georgakilas, A.G., Volarevic, S., Eliopoulos, A.G., Zannis-Hadjopoulos, M., Moustakas, A., and Gorgoulis, V.G. (2011) Cdc6 expression represses E-cadherin transcription and activates adjacent replication origins. J. Cell Biol. 195, 1123-1140.
  3. 3.Lönn, P., van der Heide, L.P., Dahl, M., Hellman, U., Heldin, C.-H., and Moustakas, A. (2010) PARP-1 attenuates Smad-mediated transcription. Mol. Cell, 40, 521-532.
  4. 4.Gal, A., Sjöblom, T., Fedorova, L., Imreh, S., Beug, H., and Moustakas, A. (2008) Sustained TGFβ exposure suppresses Smad and non-Smad signalling in mammary epithelial cells, leading to EMT and inhibition of growth arrest and apoptosis. Oncogene 27, 1218-1230.
  5. 5.Kowanetz, M., Lönn, P., Vanlandewijck, M., Kowanetz, K., Heldin, C.-H., and Moustakas, A. (2008) TGFβ induces SIK to negatively regulate type I receptor kinase signaling. J. Cell Biol. 182, 655-662.

Aránzazu Sánchez, PhD.

Aránzazu Sánchez, Ph.D.

Dr. Sánchez Muñoz obtained her Ph.D. degree in Pharmacy at the Complutense University in Madrid (UCM) in 1998. During her Ph.D. training period, under the supervision of Dr. I. Fabregat and Dr. M. Benito, she studied the role of TGF-beta in the proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis in primary fetal hepatocytes and the modulatory effects elicited by HGF and EGF. Afterwards, she performed a five-year postdoctoral training period in Dr. S.S. Thorgeirsson´s Laboratory (Laboratory of Experimental Carcinogenesis, NCI/NIH, USA) where she moved into the field of the liver stem cell biology. In april 2004 she rejoined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (School of Pharmacy, UCM) where she holds a Lecturer position and leads the research group “Molecular mechanisms regulating proliferation, differentiation and death of hepatic cells” founded by Dr. I. Fabregat.


Her research group studies the mechanisms that regulate proliferation, differentiation and death of hepatic cells and their implications in hepatic physiopathology. Recently, they have focused on two major related research topics: (1) understanding the molecular basis for the dual function, pro-regenerative and pro-tumoral, of the adult hepatic progenitor cells (oval cells), particularly the role of the signalling pathways driven by HGF, EGF and TGF-beta family ligands (TGF-beta, BMP9); (2) studying the role of BMP9 in liver pathology, particularly chronic liver diseases, using both in vitro and in vivo models (BMP9 knockout mice).


Selected recent publications: 

  1. Martínez-Palacián A, del Castillo G, Suárez-Causado A, García-Álvaro M, de la Morena D, Fernández M, Roncero C, Fabregat I, Herrera B*, Sánchez A*.  PLoS ONE (2013); 8(1): e53108 doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053108. * Co-senior authors.
  2. Herrera B, Sánchez A, Fabregat I. BMPs and liver: more questions than answers. Curr. Pharm Des (2012) 18: 4114-25.
  3. Palacián AM , del Castillo G, Herrera B, Fernández M, Roncero C, Fabregat I, Sánchez A. EGFR is dispensable for c-Met-mediated proliferation and survival activities in mouse adult liver oval cells. Cell Signal (2012) 24: 505-513.
  4. Sánchez A, Fabregat I. Growth factor-and cytokine-driven pathways governing liver stemness and differentiation. World J Gastroenterol (2010) 6(41):5148-5161. Review.
  5. Sánchez A, Fabregat I. Genetically modified animal models recapitulating molecular events altered in human hepatocarcinogenesis. Clin Transl Oncol (2009) 11: 143-153. Review.
  6. Del Castillo G, Factor VM, Fernández M, Álvarez-Barrientos A, Fabregat I, Thorgeirsson SS, Sánchez A. Deletion of the Met tyrosine kinase in liver progenitor oval cells increases sensitivity to apoptosis in vitro. Am J Pathol (2008) 172: 1238-1247.
  7. Del Castillo G, Álvarez-Barrientos A, Carmona-Cuenca I, Fernández M, Sánchez A, Fabregat I. Isolation and characterization of a putative liver progenitor population after Treatment of fetal rat hepatocytes with TGF-beta. J Cell Physiol (2008) 215: 846-855
  8. Del Castillo G, Murillo MM, Alvarez-Barrientos A, Bertrán E, Fernández M, Sánchez A, Fabregat I. Autocrine production of TGF-beta confers resistance to apoptosis after an epithelial-mesenchymal transition process in hepatocytes: role of EGF receptor ligands. Exp Cell Res (2006) 312: 2860-2871.

Prof. Michael Trauner, MD, PhD.

Aristidis Moustakas, Ph.D.

received his medical education at the Karl Franzens University School of Medicine in Graz, where he started his residency and fellowship in Internal Medicine in 1991.

From 1994-1997 he was trained Erwin Schroedinger Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the  Austrian Science Foundation at the Department of Internal Medicine (Section of Digestive Diseases) and Liver Center at the Yale University, USA (Prof. James L. Boyer) where he worked on the molecular alterations of hepatobiliry transport systems in  cholestasis.

After returning to Graz he completed his training in Internal Medicine and Fellowship in Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Graz and established an internationally recognized research goup in cholestatic and fatty liver diseases and founded the Liver Center.

His main research interests are the molecular regulation of hepatobiliary ABC transporters in cholestatic and fatty liver diseases by nuclear receptors, mechanisms of cell injury in cholestatic and fatty liver disease and pharmacological treatment of cholestatic and fatty liver diseases.

In 2000 he was promoted to Associate Professor of Medicine (Tenure Track) and 2005 Full Professor of Medicine, Experimental and Clinical Hepatology at the Medical University of Graz.

Since 2010 he is Professor and Chair of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Medical University of Vienna where he is also Division Head of one of the largest clinical Gastroenterology, Endoscopy and Liver services in Europe.

He has published more than 230 peer reviewed scientific papers, mainly on molecular and clinical aspects of cholestatic and metabolic liver diseases, and is corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and several other national and international professional and scientific societies. He has also served on several Editorial Boards and Scientific Committees such as EASL Governing Board Member (2006-2010), Council Member of United European Gastroenterology (since 2010), Associate Editor of the Journal of Hepatology (2004-2009) and Hepatology (since 2011).


Prof. Joan Seoane, PhD.

Stefano Leporatti, Ph.D.
In 1998, Joan Seona obtained his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Bardelona.  Before, in 1993, he obtained his BSc degree in Chemistry, branch of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Joan joined the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), New York, as a post-doctoral fellow in 1998.  From 1998 to 2001, Joan worked as a Research Fellow and then from 2001 to 2003 as a Research Associate in MSKCC.

In 2004, he was appointed ICREA Research Professor and established his own Group pursuing and independent research  project in the Medical Oncology Research Programme of the Vall d’Hebron Hospital Research Institute.

In 2007, he became a member of the Youing Investigator EMBO programme and was the recipient of an European Research Council grant. A year later he became Group Leader of the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) and, in 2011, Joan became Director of the Translational Research program of VHIO.


Research interests 

Our main objective is to understand the moleclar mechanisms involved in the initiation and progression of cancer.Specifically, our research is focused on the study of glioma. Glioma is the most common primary tumour of the brain and its most aggressive form, glioblastoma multiforme, has a very short median survival. The understanding of the molecular mechanisms that the govern glioma is required in order to design rational, specific and successful therapeutic approaches.


Prof. Carl-Henric Heldin, PhD.

Stefano Leporatti, Ph.D.
Carl-Henrik Heldin (born 1952) obtained a PhD exam in 1980 at Uppsala University, Sweden. He then had research positions at the Department of Medical and Physiological Chemistry, Uppsala University supported by the Swedish Cancer Society until 1986, when he was appointed Director of the Uppsala Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. Since 1992 he is also Professor in Molecular Cell Biology at Uppsala University.


The research interest of C-H Heldin is related to the mechanisms of signal transduction by growth regulatory factors, as well as their normal function and role in disease. In particular, platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and transforming growth factor-b (TGFb), are studied. An important goal is to explore the possible clinical utility of signal transduction antagonists.


C-H Heldin is an elected member of EMBO (1989), Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1991), Royal Scientific Society (Uppsala; 1995), Academia Europea (1999), Japanese Association for Cancer Research (2002), Finnish Scientific Society (2006), ScanBalt Academy (2006), Hellenic Biochemical Society (2007), Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters (2009), and European Academy of Cancer Sciences (2010). He is Doctor honoris causa at the Universities of Patras (2009), Helsinki (2010), Turku (2011) and Heidelberg (2011). He has obtained several awards for his work, including Prix Antoine Lacasagne (1989), the EMBO Medal (1992), K. Fernström´s Large Medical Prize (1993), the Meyenburg Prize (1999), the Pezcollar-AACR Prize (2002), and the Honorary Medal of the Signal Transduction Society (2012). C-H. Heldin is a founding member (2005) of the European Research Council and currently serves as one of its two Vice-Presidents.


C-H Heldin has published 394 research papers and 195 review articles. His work has been cited more than 54,000 times (more than 51,000 times excluding self-citations). His H-index is 127.


Recent publications:


  1. Heldin C-H, and Moustakas A (1012. Role of Smads in TGFb signaling. Cell Tissue Res. 347, 21-36.
  2. Mu Y, Sundar R, Thakur N, Ekman M, Gudey SK, Yakymovych M, Hermansson A, Dimitiou H, Bengoechea-Alonso M, Ericsson J, Heldin C-H and Landström M (2011). TRAF6 ubiquitinates TGFb type I receptor to promote its cleavage and nuclear translocation in cancer. Nature Commun. 2, 330.
  3. Lönn P, van der Heide L, Dahl M, Hellman U, Heldin C-H and Moustakas A (2010). PARP-1 attenuates Smad-mediated transcription. Mol.Cell 49, 521-532.
  4. Hellberg C, Schmees C, Karlsson S, Åhgren A and Heldin C-H (2009). Activation of protein kinase C a is necessary for sorting the PDGF b-receptor to Rab4a-dependent recycling. Mol.Biol.Cell 20, 2856-2863.
  5. Sorrentino A, Thakur N, Grimsby S, Marcusson A, non Bulow V, Schuster N, Zhang S, Heldin C-H and Landström M (2008). The type I TGFb recptor engages TRAF6 to activate TAK1 in a receptor kinase-independent manner. Nature Cell Biol. 10, 1199-1207.




Prof. Michael Lahn, PhD.

Stefano Leporatti, Ph.D.
After obtaining his Medical Doctor degree in Medical Microbiology at the University of Mainz (Germany) in 1992, Michael Lahn was a fellow at the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the University of Freiburg (Germany). 

In 1996, he joined the Department of Immunology at National Jewish Research and Medical Center in Denver, Colorado, where he was Instructor.  During this time he investigated the role of gd T cells in early immune responses.

In 2000, Michael joined Eli Lilly and Company, where he first worked in the early phase drug development for anti-inflammatory drugs.

In 2003 he was member of the first-generation antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) aprinocarsen, a late phase drug development team. 

Today, Michael is member of Lilly’s early phase oncology development group.  He has been responsible for the development of several novel oncology drugs, including the second generation ASO LY2181308 and the TGF-beta small molecule inhibitor LY2157299. 

Michael’s scientific interest includes immunology, cancer microenvironment and application of biomarkers in early phase clinical trials. He has authored or co-authored 90 publications.


Richard A.J. Janssen, PhD.


Discovery Site Head
Galapagos NV

P.O. Box 127
2300 AC Leiden
The Netherlands


+31 (71) 7506-725

Biography Richard A.J. Janssen, PhD

Dr. Richard Janssen is Discovery Site Head of Galapagos NV. Within the Galapagos group, he has held prior positions as team leader and Senior Director at BioFocus and as Senior Director at Galapagos. Prior to his career at Galapagos, Dr. Janssen held a senior research position at the Tumor Immunology Laboratory of the Nijmegen Center for Molecular Life Sciences and he was principal investigator at the division of Monoclonal Antibodies at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Janssen was visiting scientist at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and postdoctoral scientist at Tufts Medical School. Dr. Janssen has a background in immunology, tumor cell biology, and signal transduction. He holds a Ph.D. in immunology from Groningen University, and a M.Sc. in Molecular Sciences from Wageningen University, and has published over 30 scientific publications and is inventor on over 10 patent applications. Within Galapagos he is responsible for both the fee-for-service target discovery activities as well as the target discovery phases of the internal R&D programs and technology platforms. These target discovery programs focus on metabolic disease, cancer, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, fibrosis, COPD, and rare diseases such as cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease.

Dr. Peter Winter

Peter ten Dijke 

finished his studies in biology at the University of Düsseldorf in 1981. During these studies his focus changed from Neurophysics- and -physiology to the molecular biology of plants. Peter concluded his studies 1986 with a Ph.D. thesis about restoration of a mutation in a chloroplast (rbcL) gene via genetic engineering of the nucleus. Then, Peter became interested in human genetics and mutations underlying human hereditary diseases. From 1986 to 1993 he worked on genetic mapping and map-based cloning of the genes responsible for Huntigton’s disease and Friedreich’s ataxia at the DECHEMA Institute in Frankfurt, Germany. There, he became familiar with molecular markers, Mega-DNA-techniques, Pulsed-Field-Gel-Electrophoresis and YAC and BAC cloning. Falling in love again with plant molecular biology he joined the Plant Molecular Biology Group of the University of Frankfurt in 1993. In the frame of this work he developed and patented SuperSAGE, a next-generation sequencing-based transcript profiling technology in cooperation with German and Japanese colleagues.


The patent provided the economic base for a company, GenXPro GmbH, Frankfurt, Germany, (www.genxpro.de) that he founded in 2005 and leads as CEO for commercialization of genome-wide, high-quality gene expression profiling services based on SuperSAGE. As the first European service-provider for deepSuperSAGE and MACE the company extended its service portfolio around next-generation-sequencing technologies from transcriptomics to genomics and epigenetics including whole-genome-sequencing, high-resolution quantitative analysis of chromosome duplications/losses as e.g. found in cancer coined All-Exome Sequencing, SuperTag Digital Karyotyping (ST-DK) and genome-wide Cytosin methylation profiling by SuperTag Methylation-Specific Digital Karyotyping (ST-MSDK). The companies’ service portfolio further comprises RNA-seq, normalized cDNA and small/microRNA profiling and analysis of their target messenger RNAs using PARE, but also includes qRT-PCR services. In addition to providing up-front wet-lab services the GenXPro team of skilled bioinformaticians supports customers with advanced data management and bioinformatics and designs individual solutions applying the most advanced software available on the companies’ powerful cluster of 128 Central Processing Units. Building on its innovative genomics technologies Peters company extended its commercial scope to the development of Biomarkers for different cancers and drug toxicity and coordinates several publicly funded cooperation projects with academic and commercial enterprises world-wide.


5 recent publications of Peter Winter


Varshney RK, Song C, Saxena RK, Azam S, Yu S, Sharpe AG, Cannon S, Baek J, Rosen BD, Tar'an B, Millan T, Zhang X, Ramsay LD, Iwata A, Wang Y, Nelson W, Farmer AD, Gaur PM, Soderlund C, Penmetsa RV, Xu C, Bharti AK, He W, Winter P, Zhao S, Hane JK, Carrasquilla-Garcia N, Condie JA, Upadhyaya HD, Luo MC, Thudi M, Gowda CL, Singh NP, Lichtenzveig J, Gali KK, Rubio J, Nadarajan N, Dolezel J, Bansal KC, Xu X, Edwards D, Zhang G, Kahl G, Gil J, Singh KB, Datta SK, Jackson SA, Wang J, Cook DR (2013) Draft genome sequence of chickpea (Cicer arietinum) provides a resource for trait improvement. Nat Biotechnol. 31:240-246.


Belarmino LC, Silva RL, Cavalcanti Nda M, Krezdorn N, Kido EA, Horres R, Winter P, Kahl G, Benko-Iseppon AM (2013) SymGRASS: a database of sugarcane orthologous genes involved in arbuscular mycorrhiza and root nodule symbiosis. BMC Bioinformatics 14 Suppl 1:S2. doi: 10.1186/1471-2105-14-S1-S2.


Zawada AM, Rogacev KS, Hummel B, Grün OS, Friedrich A, Rotter B, Winter P, Geisel J, Fliser D, Heine GH. (2012) SuperTAG methylation-specific digital karyotyping reveals uremia-induced epigenetic dysregulation of atherosclerosis-related genes. Circ Cardiovasc Genet. 5:611-620.


De Domenico S, Bonsegna S, Horres R, Pastor V, Taurino M, Poltronieri P, Imtiaz M, Kahl G, Flors V, Winter P, Santino A. (2012) Transcriptomic analysis of oxylipin biosynthesis genes and chemical profiling reveal an early induction of jasmonates in chickpea roots under drought stress. Plant Physiol Biochem. 61:115-122.


Zawada AM, Rogacev KS, Rotter B, Winter P, Marell RR, Fliser D, Heine GH (2011) SuperSAGE evidence for CD14++CD16+ monocytes as a third monocyte subset. Blood 118:e50-61.