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Francesco Cardarelli


Former colleague




Piazza San Silvestro 12 (NEST Laboratory)



1st December 2010-today


IIT@NEST, Center for Nanotechnology Innovation

Pisa, Italy

1st June 2009 - 30th November 2010

Postdoctoral researcher

Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics (LFD) – Department of Biomedical Engineering

University of California at Irvine (UCI)

1st June 2005-30th January 2009

PhD in Molecular Biophysics

Thesis: Nanostructuring HIV-1 Tat arginine-rich motif for targeted cellular delivery

Scuola Normale Superiore (in collaboration with Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, IIT)

Pisa, Italy

70/70 cum laude

November 1998-October 2003

Laurea Degree in Biological Sciences

Thesis: Dynamics of ERK-2 nuclear translocation studied in vivo using confocal laser microscopy

University of Pisa, Italy

110/110 cum laude

November 1998-October 2003

Diploma in Biological Sciences

Student at Scuola Normale Superiore (Biological Sciences, Class of Science)

Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa

70/70 cum laude


- In vivo monitoring of protein trafficking and interactions by high-resolution and high-sensitivity fluorescence imaging and spectroscopy (Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy: Pair Correlation, RICS, N&B, scanningFCS, 3D-tracking, iMSD)

- Intelligent drug delivery (peptides, liposomes)

- Nucleocytoplasmic transport

Selected Publications

Gonzali S, Loreti E, Cardarelli F, Novi G, Parlanti S, Pucciariello C, Bassolino L, Banti V, Licausi F, Perata P (2015). The Universal Stress Protein HRU1 mediates ROS homeostasis under anoxia. Nature Plants. In press

Di Rienzo C, Gratton E, Beltram F, Cardarelli F*(2015). Super resolution of diffusion in a standard microscope: from fast fluorescence imaging to molecular diffusion laws in live cells. Book Chapter. Taylor & Francis Publishers. In press.

Macchi S, Signore G, Nifosi R, Boccardi C, Beltram F, Cardarelli F (2015). Spontaneous membrane-translocating peptides: influence of peptide self-aggregation and cargo polarity. Sci Rep. Under review.

Storti B, Di Rienzo C, Cardarelli F, Bizzarri R, Beltram F (2015) Unveiling TRPV1 spatio-temporal organization in live cell membranes. PloS ONE 10(3): e0116900 (2015)

Hinde E, Cardarelli F, Gratton E (2015) Spatiotemporal regulation of Heterochromatin Protein 1-alpha oligomerization and dynamics in live cells. Sci Rep 5, 12001 (2015)

Di Rienzo C, Piazza V, Gratton E, Beltram F, Cardarelli F (2014) Probing short-range protein Brownian motion in liviong cells. Nature Communications 5, 5891 (2014)

 Pozzi D, Cardarelli F, Salomone F, Marchini C, Amenitsch H, La Barbera G, Caracciolo G (2014) Role of cholesterol on the transfection barriers of cationic lipid/DNA complexes. Applied Physics Letters. 105, 073701 (2014); doi: 10.1063/1.4892915 SELECTED FOR THE COVER OF THE JOURNAL.

Di Rienzo C, Gratton E, Beltram F, Cardarelli F (2014) From fast fluorescence imaging to molecular diffusion law on live cell membranes in a commercial microscope. Journal of Visualized Experiments. In press.

Salomone F, Breton M, Leray I, Cardarelli F, Boccardi C, Bonhenry D, Tarek M, Mir LM, Beltram F (2014) High-yield nontoxic gene transfer through conjugation of the CM 18-Tat11 chimeric peptide with nanosecond electric pulses.
Molecular PharmaceuticsVolume 11, Issue 7, 7 July 2014, Pages 2466-2474

Bianchini P, Cardarelli F, Di Luca M, Diaspro A, Bizzarri R (2014) Nanoscale protein diffusion by STED-based pair correlation analysis. PlosOne. Volume 9, Issue 6, Article number e99619

Pozzi D, Marchini C, Cardarelli F, Salomone F, Coppola S, Montani M, Zabaleta ME, Digman MA, Gratton E, Colapicchioni V, Caracciolo G (2014) Mechanistic evaluation of the transfection barriers involved in lipid-mediated gene delivery: Interplay between nanostructure and composition. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes. Volume 1838, Issue 3, March 2014, Pages 957-967alt

Fasoli A, Salomone F, Benedusi M, Boccardi C, Rispoli G, Beltram F, Cardarelli F (2014) Mechanistic insight into CM18-Tat11 peptide membrane-perturbing action by whole-cell patch-clamp recording. Molecules. Volume 19, Issue 7, July 2014, Pages 9228-9239

Gratton E, Cardarelli F, Lanzano L (2013) Super-resolution by feedback imaging: Mechanisms of translocation through the nuclear pore complex. Optical Molecular Probes, Imaging and Drug Delivery, OMP 2013 pp. MM2C.1

Pozzi D, Marchini C, Cardarelli F, Rossetta A, Colapicchioni V, Amici A, Montani M, Motta S, Brocca P, Cantù L, Caracciolo G (2013) Mechanistic understanding of gene delivery mediated by highly efficient multicomponent envelope-type nanoparticle systems. Mol Pharm. accepted

Maccari G, Di Luca M, Nifosi R, Cardarelli F, Signore G, Boccardi C, Bifone A (2013) ANTIMICROBIAL PEPTIDES DESIGN BY EVOLUTIONARY MULTIOBJECTIVE OPTIMIZATION. Plos Computational Biology ACCEPTED

Di Rienzo C, Gratton E, Beltram F, Cardarelli F (2013) Fast spatiotemporal image correlation spectroscopy to determine protein lateral diffusion laws in live cell membranes. PNAS. 110 (30) , pp. 12307-12312

Battisti A, Panettieri S, Jacchetti E, Cardarelli F, Signore G, Beltram F, Bizzarri R 2013) Imaging intracellular viscosity by a new functional molecular rotor suitable for phasor analysis of fluorescence lifetime. Anal Bioanal Chem. 405 (19) , pp. 6223-6233

Caracciolo G, Cardarelli F, Pozzi D, Salomone F, Maccari G, Bardi G, Capriotti A, Cavaliere C, Papi M, Laganà A (2013) Selective targeting capability acquired with a protein corona adsorbed on the surface of 1,2-dioleoyl-3-trimethylammonium propane/dna nanoparticles. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Volume 5, Issue 24, 26 December 2013, Pages 13171-13179

Salomone F, Cardarelli F, Signore G, Boccardi C, Beltram F (2013) In vitro efficient transfection by CM18-Tat11 hybrid peptide: a new tool for gene-delivery applications. PLOS ONE 8 (7) , art. no. e70108

Pozzi D, Cardarelli F, Salomone F, Marchini C, Amenitsch H, Caracciolo G (2013) Effect of cholesterol on the transfection efficiency of DOTAP-containing lipoplexes. Technical Proceedings of the 2013 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Expo. 3 , pp. 274-277

Caracciolo G, Pozzi D, Capriotti AL, Cavaliere C, Cardarelli F, Salomone F, Laganà A (2013) Exploiting the "protein corona effect" for targeted drug and gene delivery. Technical Proceedings of the 2013 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Expo.3 , pp. 247-250

Coppola S, Cardarelli F, Pozzi D, Estrada L, Digman, M, Gratton E, Bifone A, Marianecci C, Caracciolo G. (2013) The role of cytoskeleton networks on lipid-mediated delivery of DNA. Therapeutic  Delivery; 4(2): 191-202

Di Rienzo C, Jacchetti E, Cardarelli F, Bizzarri R, Beltram F, Cecchini M. (2013) Unveiling LOX-1 receptor interplay with nanotopography: mechanotransduction and atherosclerosis onset. Scientific Reports 3 , art. no. 1141

Hinde E, Cardarelli F, Chen A, Khine M, Gratton E. (2012) Tracking the mechanical dynamics of human embryonic stem cell chromatin. Epigenetics & Chromatin. 5 (1) , art. no. 20

Salomone F, Cardarelli F, Di Luca M, Boccardi C, Nifosì R, Bardi G, Di Bari L, Serresi M, Beltram F. (2012) A novel chimeric cell-penetrating peptide with membrane-disruptive properties for efficient endosomal escape. Journal of controlled release. 163 (3) , pp. 293-303

Cardarelli F, Lanzano L, Gratton E. (2012) Capturing directed molecular motion in the nuclear pore complex of live cells. PNAS. Jun 19;109(25):9863-8. Epub  2012 Jun 4

Coppola S, Estrada L, Digman MA, Pozzi D, Cardarelli F, Gratton E, Caracciolo G. (2012) Intracellular trafficking of cationic liposome/DNA complexes in living cells. Soft Matter (8) 3929-3927

Pozzi D, Marchini C, Cardarelli F, Amenitsch H, Garulli C, Bifone A, Caracciolo G (2012) Transfection Efficiency Boost of Cholesterol-containing Lipoplexes. Biochim Biophys Acta. Sep;1818(9):2335-43. Epub 2012 May 22.

Bizzarri R, Cardarelli F, Serresi M, Beltram F. (2012) Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching to reveal the biochemistry of nucleocytoplasmic exchange. Anal  Bioanal Chem May 15

Storti B, Bizzarri R, Cardarelli F, Beltram F. (2012) Intact microtubules preserve transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) functionality through receptor binding. Journal of Biological Chemistry Mar 2;287(10):7803-11

Hinde E, Cardarelli F, Digman MA, Gratton E. (2012) Changes in chromatin compaction during the cell cycle revealed by micrometer scale measurement of molecular flow in the nucleus. Biophys J Feb 8;102(3):691-7

Cardarelli F, Pozzi D, Bifone A, Marchini C, Caracciolo G (2012) Cholesterol-dependent macropinocytosis and endosomal escape control the transfection efficiency of lipoplexes in CHO Living Cells. Molecular Pharmaceutics Feb 6;9(2):334-40

Cardarelli F, Tosti L, Serresi M, Beltram F, Bizzarri R (2012) FRAP analysis of nuclear export rates identifies intrinsic features of nucleocytoplasmic transport. Journal of Biological Chemistry.  Feb 17;287(8):5554-61. Epub 2011 Dec 21.

Hinde E, Cardarelli F (2011). Measuring the flow of molecules in cells. Biophys Rev.3 (3) 119-129

De Filippis R, Pancrazi L, Bjørgo K, Rosseto A, Kleefstra T, Grillo E, Panighini A, Cardarelli F, Meloni I, Ariani F, Mencarelli MA, Hayek J, Renieri A, Costa M, Mari F (2011). Expanding the phenotype associated with FOXG1 mutations and in vivo FoxG1 chromatin-binding dynamics. Journal of Clinical Genetics. Doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2011.01810.x.

Cardarelli, F., Lanzano, L., Gratton, E. (2011). Nanoscale Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy on Intact Nuclear Pore Complexes. Biophys J Letter 101(4):L27-9

Hinde, E., Cardarelli, F., Digman, MA., Kershner, A., Kimble, J., Gratton. (2011). The impact of mitotic versus interphase chromatin architecture on the molecular flow of EGFP by pair correlation analysis. Biophys J 100(7):1829-36

Cardarelli, F., Serresi, M., Bizzarri, R., Albanese, A., and Beltram, F. (2011). Quantitative analysis of tat peptide binding to import carriers reveals unconventional transport properties. J Biol Chem 286(14):12292-9

Hinde, E., Cardarelli, F., Digman, MA., Gratton, E. (2010). In vivo pair correlation analysis of EGFP intranuclear diffusion reveals DNA-depnendent molecular flow. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107: 16560-16565

Cardarelli, F., Gratton, E. (2010). In vivo imaging of single-molecule translocations through nuclear pore complexes by pair correlation functions. PlosOne 5: e10475

Bizzarri, R., Serresi, M., Cardarelli, F., Abbruzzetti, S., Campanini, B., Viappiani, C., Beltram, F. (2010). Single amino acid replacement makes Aequorea fluorescent proteins reversibly photoswitchable. J Am Chem Soc 132: 85-95

Cardarelli, F., Bizzarri, R., Serresi, M., Albertazzi, L., Beltram, F. (2009). Probing nuclear localization signal-Importin alpha binding equilibria in living cells. J Biol Chem 284: 36638-46

Serresi, M., Bizzarri, R., Cardarelli, F., Beltram, F. (2009). Real-time measurement of endosomal acidification by a novel genetically encoded biosensor. Anal Bioanal Chem 393: 1123-33

Cardarelli, F., Serresi, M., Bizzarri, R., Beltram, F. (2007). Tuning the transport properties of HIV-1 Tat arginine-rich motif in living cells. Traffic 4: 528-39

Cardarelli, F., Serresi, M., Bizzarri, R., Giacca, M., Beltram, F. (2007). In vivo study of HIV Tat arginine rich motif unveils its transport properties. Mol Ther 7: 1313-22 (Chosen for the cover)

Costa, M., Marchi, M., Cardarelli, F., Anusrhee, R., Beltram, F., Maffei, L., Ratto, G.M. (2006). Dynamic regulation of ERK2 nuclear translocation and mobility in living cells. J Cell Sci 119: 4952-63

Bizzarri, R., Arcangeli, C., Arosio, D., Cardarelli, F., Faraci, P., Ricci, F., Beltram, F. (2006). Development of a Novel GFP-based Ratiometric Excitation and Emission pH Indicator for Intracellular Studies. Biophys J. 90: 1-15.

Conference Proceedings

D. Pozzi, V. Orlando, G. Augusti Tocco, S. Biagioni, F. Cardarelli, A. Bifone, F. Salomone and G. Caracciolo (2012). Surface Functionalized Multicomponent Envelope Type Nanosystems for Improved Gene Delivery. Technical Proceedings of the 2012 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Expo, NSTI-Nanotech 2012, Pages 146-149

G. Caracciolo, D. Pozzi, A. L. Capriotti, C. Cavaliere, F. Cardarelli, A. Bifone, G. Bardi, F. Salomone and A. Laganà (2012). Cancer cell targeting of lipid gene vectors by protein corona. Technical Proceedings of the 2012 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Expo, NSTI-Nanotech 2012, Pages 354-357


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I numeri di IIT

L’Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) è una fondazione di diritto privato - cfr. determinazione Corte dei Conti 23/2015 “IIT è una fondazione da inquadrare fra gli organismi di diritto pubblico con la scelta di un modello di organizzazione di diritto privato per rispondere all’esigenza di assicurare procedure più snelle nella selezione non solo nell’ambito nazionale dei collaboratori, scienziati e ricercatori ”.

IIT è sotto la vigilanza del Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca e del Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze ed è stato istituito con la Legge 326/2003. La Fondazione ha l'obiettivo di promuovere l'eccellenza nella ricerca di base e in quella applicata e di favorire lo sviluppo del sistema economico nazionale. La costruzione dei laboratori iniziata nel 2006 si è conclusa nel 2009.

Lo staff complessivo di IIT conta circa 1440 persone. L’area scientifica è rappresentata da circa l’85% del personale. Il 45% dei ricercatori proviene dall’estero: di questi, il 29% è costituito da stranieri provenienti da oltre 50 Paesi e il 16% da italiani rientrati. Oggi il personale scientifico è composto da circa 60 principal investigators, circa 110 ricercatori e tecnologi di staff, circa 350 post doc, circa 500 studenti di dottorato e borsisti, circa 130 tecnici. Oltre 330 posti su 1400 creati su fondi esterni. Età media 34 anni. 41% donne / 59 % uomini.

Nel 2015 IIT ha ricevuto finanziamenti pubblici per circa 96 milioni di euro (80% del budget), conseguendo fondi esterni per 22 milioni di euro (20% budget) provenienti da 18 progetti europei17 finanziamenti da istituzioni nazionali e internazionali, circa 60 progetti industriali

La produzione di IIT ad oggi vanta circa 6990 pubblicazioni, oltre 130 finanziamenti Europei e 11 ERC, più di 350 domande di brevetto attive, oltre 12 start up costituite e altrettante in fase di lancio. Dal 2009 l’attività scientifica è stata ulteriormente rafforzata con la creazione di dieci centri di ricerca nel territorio nazionale (a Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) e internazionale (MIT ed Harvard negli USA) che, unitamente al Laboratorio Centrale di Genova, sviluppano i programmi di ricerca del piano scientifico 2015-2017.

IIT: the numbers

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) is a public research institute that adopts the organizational model of a private law foundation. IIT is overseen by Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca and Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze (the Italian Ministries of Education, Economy and Finance).  The Institute was set up according to Italian law 326/2003 with the objective of promoting excellence in basic and applied research andfostering Italy’s economic development. Construction of the Laboratories started in 2006 and finished in 2009.

IIT has an overall staff of about 1,440 people. The scientific staff covers about 85% of the total. Out of 45% of researchers coming from abroad 29% are foreigners coming from more than 50 countries and 16% are returned Italians. The scientific staff currently consists of approximately 60 Principal Investigators110 researchers and technologists350 post-docs and 500 PhD students and grant holders and 130 technicians. External funding has allowed the creation of more than 330 positions . The average age is 34 and the gender balance proportion  is 41% female against 59% male.

In 2015 IIT received 96 million euros in public funding (accounting for 80% of its budget) and obtained 22 million euros in external funding (accounting for 20% of its budget). External funding comes from 18 European Projects, other 17 national and international competitive projects and approximately 60 industrial projects.

So far IIT accounts for: about 6990 publications, more than 130 European grants and 11 ERC grants, more than 350 patents or patent applications12 up start-ups and as many  which are about to be launched. The Institute’s scientific activity has been further strengthened since 2009 with the establishment of 11 research nodes throughout Italy (Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) and abroad (MIT and Harvard University, USA), which, along with the Genoa-based Central Lab, implement the research programs included in the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan.