Meet The Team

antonioDr. Antonio Giordano

President

I am originally from Naples, Italy.

When I started SHRO I wanted to create an organization that would focus on biomedical research and providing opportunities for young brilliant minds to come from around the world to research in my laboratories.  It was also very important to me that we remain autonomous in terms of academics and funding so SHRO is solely funded through private grants and donations.  Mario Sbarro took a leap of faith on my organization in 1993 by giving us the funds to get started and he remains a valuable part of our organization to this day.  Since we opened our doors in 1993 I have had the great privilege to train hundreds of students from around the world and watch them succeed in different disciplines of medicine and medical research.  All of the staff here at SHRO has a solid commitment to mentoring young researchers and together we have accomplished great feats in the field of cancer and health research.

From my personal research endeavors I identified the tumor suppressor gene Rb2/p130.  This gene restrains the size of tumors inhibiting their growth.  This gene is active in lung, endometrial, brain, breast, liver and ovarian cancers.

Think of genetic research as language. We have identified the words; now we are constructing the dictionary and learning the rules of grammar. Our task is to continue assembling the dictionary and perhaps the construction of a few grammatically accurate sentences. The goal is to eventually add new chapters to the novel of life

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Grace Auteri

Director of Finance

I am originally from Gioia Tauro, Province of Reggio Calabria Italy.  I have been with SHRO for 13 years and I am fully dedicated to our mission to autonomously provide valuable fieldwork to the field of cancer and health research.

I come from a family of engineers, mathematicians, and accountants so finance has always been a natural fit for me.  S.H.R.O. is my second home, I think of all the young scientists that come into this organization like my children and I love giving them advice and helping them to adjust in this country if they are here from abroad. We truly are family here and the criteria to work here is different than other working environments because we are loyal to one another and to our cause.  We have a very small but dedicated administrative staff so that the majority of our funding can go directly towards our research goals.

I have been in America since the 60s.  I find the most cherished aspect of America is the sense of optimism for the future and the fact that any hard working person can persevere.  My husband and I are soo lucky to have two wonderful children and 5 beautiful grandchildren.

fullsizerender-12Marinela Dedaj

Administrative Coordinator

I am originally from Albania but I moved to America when I was eight years old. I have been working at SHRO for two years. I graduated from La Salle University with a major in Psychology and a minor in French. I was a summer intern at SHRO before working here full-time post-graduation. I am currently enrolled as a first-year part-time student in the Master’s in Counseling Psychology Program at Temple University. I speak English, French, Spanish, and my native tongue Albanian. Working at SHRO is both challenging and rewarding as I have acquired and mastered a variety of many new skills. My favorite part of the job is conducting seminars for both our department and Temple University. Recently, we had Dr. Gary Stein, the Director of the University of the Vermont Cancer Center lead a seminar called “The Architecturally Dynamic Genetic and Epigenetic Landscape of Cancer Biology and Pathology”. In addition, I have expanded my knowledge in graphic design during my time at SHRO and have attended training for Policy and Procedures for international Visiting Research Scholars and Postdoctoral Fellows that come to work in our labs.

 

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Marcella Macaluso, Ph.D.  marchella

Director of Epigenetics & Genetics Program

For several years our research group has focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying epigenetic and genetic alteration in human cells leading to cancer formation and progression. Our specific research has concentrated on the mechanisms regulated by pRb-family proteins and governing the neoplastic processes. Our interest is to carry out the complex network of signals by which this family of proteins regulates cellular proliferation, survival and differentiation, and to disclose the mechanisms responsible for the regulatory disruption of these functions in the neoplastic process. In this context, we have suggested that the silencing of estrogen receptor alpha (ER-α) gene during breast cancer progression, as well as of p73 gene in osteosarcoma, could arise from epigenetic events mediated by pRb2/130 (and perhaps by pRb1/105 and p107) in association with specific enzymes involved in the chromatin remodeling. Furthermore, our work has shown that epigenetic mechanisms controlled by pRb2/p130, as well as epigenetic events affecting Rb2/130 gene expression itself, play an important role in retinoblastoma and lung cancer formation and progression, and can represent key events in the differentiation of cornea and conjunctiva normal cells

silviaSilvia Boffo, PhD in Pharmacological Science

Research Assistant Professor (NTT) at Temple University, Philadelphia PAI am originally from Venice, Italy and I have been at SHRO for four years: (1.5 years to complete my PhD, 3 years as a postdoc)  I received my Bachelor Degree and my Masters degree from University of Trieste in Italy.  I obtained my PhD from the University of Padua in Italy in Pharmacological Science.  My primary focus at this time is in the area of lung cancer.  Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the US. Identifying molecular targets centered on the early stages is of the utmost importance. Normal cells become tumor cells through deregulation of multiple pathways. Pin1 is overexpressed in many different cancer types and has been shown to serve as a poor prognostic factor. The molecular mechanisms by which Pin1 increases tumor cell proliferation are unknown. We developed a Pin1-overexpression mouse model and found that Pin1 overexpression contributes to a higher incidence of lung adenocarcinoma, suggesting Pin1 as having a promoting effect toward carcinogenesis. We hypothesize that Pin1 increases lung tumorigenesis by altering the cell cycle. Our goal is to determine the molecular mechanism by which Pin1 overexpression contributes to altered cell-cycle regulation. This study has the high potential to shed light on tumor-initiating events in lung cancer, providing novel information for therapeutic intervention.

gianfrancoGianfranco Bellipanni
Assistant Professor (NTT) and Director of the Developmental Biology Program at SHRO.

I am originally from Cefalú, Italy and I have been with SHRO for 10 years.  At SHRO I am currently working on three major ongoing research projects.  I am researching the roles of canoical Wnt signaling in Early Zebrafish Embryo Development and Cancer.  I am modeling pain in Zebrafish to determine if lower vertebrates are able to experience pain.  This is important because at this time we are unsure if evolutionarily less complex vertebrates contain the network of neurons to feel pain.  I am also modeling Human Pathologies in the Zebrafish, if we can model with Zebrafish we can conduct high throughput screening that will lead to aid in the development of new, more efficient pharmaceutical drugs for numerous ailments.  I have been lucky to mentor several talented young scientist many of whom have been awarded fellowships during our time together.

I currently teach General Biochemistry I; Developmental Biology; Evolutionary Developmental Biology; System Biology at Temple University.  When I am not at work or teaching  I am very interested in business and innovation. I obtained an MS in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at the Fox Business School.  With my wife Anna I am the Co-founder of Solo Dolce LLC, which is dedicated to Italian artisan pastries productionpier

Pierluigi Scalia

Adjunct Professor

My name is Pierluigi Scalia, I was born in Caltanissetta, Italy.  I have been with SHRO since 2015.  I am a physician-scientist and an Italian-American scientist and social entrepreneur (class 1968). Since graduation in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Catania, I continued my career at the Californian Institutions (UCSF, USC) which granted me American citizenship based upon scientific merits and the Italian title of doctor of endocrine-molecular sciences. Two decades of experience in basic and applied research in the academic and private sector backed by international scientific publications and patented cancer biomarker research. I am the author of several peer-reviewed scientific articles in oncology and owner of patented research on a tumorigenic mechanism of proliferation and blood vessel formation shared by solid tumors. I am a cofounder of ISOPROG, a SHRO affiliated Italian non-profit research organization focusing on the personalization of cancer treatments through both collaborative and intramural projects (www.isoprog.org).

2012-doc-shuodong2Dr. Shuo Dong

Research Faculty

I am originally from China, although I have been in America for 20 years.  I have been working at SHRO for 2 years, and previously I worked in Houston Texas at Baylor College of Medicine.  My research throughout my career has focused on myeloid Leukemia.  I was involved in the research of Retinoic Acid which is now drugs used to treat AML PML-RARA Leukemia.  Before the use of this drug along with Arsenic Trioxide there was a 10% survival rate for this kind of Leukemia, today there is a 90% survival rate.  I am currently working on other translocation genes such as CBFA2T3-GLIS2 which have a high fatality rate but I believe that as our experimentation continues will have a significant breakthrough within the next five years with this disease.

yinkaDr. Olayinka Olabinjo

I have worked with Temple University for 11 years and SHRO for 10 years.  I am originally from Nigeria where I finished my Bachelor’s Degree in microbiology in the University of Lagos.  In 1997 I came to America after winning a visa from the lottery with my wife and first child.  When I got to America I got my second Bachelor’s degree from Drexel in computer science with a minor in mathematics. While working at Temple University I obtained my masters in health informatics.   I now teach a course at Temple called intro to personal computer.  I obtained my PhD in Bioinformatics with Dr. Giordano from Temple and in Sienna.

antonellaAntonella Caporaso

PhD student from Avellino in Southern Italy.  I arrived at SHRO in September to work on my research project which I am currently working on in collaboration with the Wistar Institute.  I obtained my undergraduate degree in Human Biology from Tor Vergate University in Rome.  I am now working towards my PhD in Genetics Oncology and Clinical medicine.  My research project examines DNA damage response to compounds used in chemotherapy.  DNA damage when not repaired will cause a cell to die so we are looking to find which proteins can aid in the repair of these affected cells.  Our hope is that we can find new proteins to target in chemotherapy and hopefully couple these new findings with existing cancer treatment options.

This is my first time in America, I choose to come here so I could collaborate with the Wistar institute and so I could work to improve my English.  My favorite thing about America is that you can rely on yourself, since my personal mentor is currently in Italy I am forced to problem solve on my own regularly.  Culturally I have found Americans to be very free, they have less social rules which allows them to do what they please without experiencing judgement which I think is great.

barbara-salisBarbara Salis

PhD student from Sardinia Italy.  I graduated from University Trieste with a degree in BIology and I am currently pursuing Molecular Biomedical degree.  I arrived at SHRO in October and will be researching here for one year.  My current project focuses on identifying is there is a certain gene involved in ovarian cancer or lung cancer.  We are able to study this by modeling both Zebrafish and Mice.  If we are able to determine if the gene involved in ovarian cancer or lung cancer is oncogene we would be able to recognize it in vitro and therefore take preventative measures.

This is my first time in America and I have always wanted to visit here, this program gave me an opportunity to study abroad here.  America has great freedom of expression, you can be whoever and whatever you want to be here.