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Irene Bozzoni

Researcher - Principal Investigator
Senior researcher

Research Line

Non coding RNAs in Physiology and Pathology







1979: Specialization in General Pathology (70/70).

1975:  MS Degree with honours in Biology, University of Rome (110/110 cum aude)

Current Positions

Since 1994: Full Professor of Molecular Biology, University of Rome.

Since 2018:  Senior Researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT).

Academic career and research experience

2002:               Visiting Professor at the University of Brandeis, Boston – USA (Prof. M. Rosbash),

1994-present:  Full Professor of Molecular Biology, University of Rome  

1993:               Visiting Professor at the University of Boulder, Colorado - USA (Prof. O. Uhlenbeck)

1986-1994:      Associate Professor of Molecular Biology, University of Rome

1986:               Visiting Professor at the National Institute of Health of Bethesda (USA)

1980-1986:      Staff scientist at the Center for Nucleic Acid Research, CNR, Rome, Italy

1985:               Visiting Scientist at the University of Zurich - CH (Prof.M. Birnstiel)

1978-1980:      Research fellow at the Centro Acidi Nucleici of C.N.R., Rome

1979:               EMBO fellow at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg( - Germany (Dr. M.L. Melli)

1977-78:          Post-doctoral fellow - Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Zurich -CH (Prof.M. Birnstiel)

Academic assignments

2016-2018:      Director of the School for Advanced Studies of Sapienza

2007- 2018:     Director of the Master Degree in Genetics and Molecular Biology – Sapienza, University of Rome.

2011-2016:      Deputy Director of the School of Advanced Studies of Sapienza

2000-2016:      Member of the PhD Committee of Sapienza University.

2011-2014:      President of the Evaluation Committee of the Faculty of Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome.

2009-2012:      Member of the Committee for the Innovation of Research and Technology, Sapienza University

2005-2016:      Rappresentative of Sapienza University at the “Consorzio Interuniversitario per le Biotecnologie”.

2007- 2015:     Member of the Technical and Scientific Committee of the Consorzio Sapienza Innovazione of the University La   Sapienza and of the Italian Federation for Life Sciences.

Non academic engagements

2018-present:  Member of the “Management Committee” of the Human Technopole.

2018-present:  Member of the Advisory Committee dell'Armenise-Harvard Foundation.

2017-present:  Member of the Board of the “Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia, Leonardo da Vinci",


2015- present: Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the “Enciclopedia Treccani”.

2012-2018:      Review panel member of the Rita Levi-Montalcini “Program on Young Researchers” of the Ministry of Research and University (MIUR).

2016-2018:      Member of the National Committee for the abilitation of Full Professors and Associate Professors in Molecular Biology

2016:               ERC - Review panel member for ERC, LS3 Consolidator Grants (CoG)

2011-2014:      Member of the Review panel member of the membership committee of EMBO

2010-2013:      Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the “Committee of Experts for the Research Policy” (CEPR), consultant of the of the Italian Ministry of University and Research

2009-2012:      Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Pezcoller Foundation

2005-2008:      Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Armenise-Harvard Foundation

2000-2003:      Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the “Fondazione Chiara D'Onofrio”

Evaluator for: ESF, AERES, Welcome Trust, EMBO, HFSP, Armenise-Harvard Foundation, AFM and several international scientific institutions.

Memberships, honors and awards

  • In 2013 was awarded of an ERC-Advanced Grant
  • In 2010 was awarded the "Sapienza Ricerca Award"
  • In 2008 was invited to give the “Lectio magistralis” for the inauguration of the academic year at Sapienza, University of Rome
  • In 2003 and 2006 was awarded two Prizes by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.
  • Member of European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and of the "Academia Europaea"
  • Member of Italian Society for Biophysics and Molecular Biology
  • Member of the “Accademia Medica”

Research projects coordinated:

- European Union - VII Research Framework:

ERC-Advanced Grant - Muncodd

People-MSCA- ITN, RNATRAIN Project

RIGHT, Integrated Project

SIROCCO, Integrated ProjecSP3-

- European Union – Horizon 2020:

2016 -Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions -ITN, “circRTrain

- European Science Foundation (ESF)

- Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP)

- French Muscular Dystrophy Association (AFM-Téléthon) 


- Fondazione Telethon


- Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca Sul Cancro (AIRC)

- Istituto Pasteur, Fondazione Cenci-Bolognetti

- Parent Project ONLUS

- Istituto Italiano di Tecnologie (IIT) –SEED projects



RNA biology


Currently coordinated research projects: - European Union - VII Research Framework: ERC-Advanced Grant - Muncodd People-MSCA- ITN, RNATRAIN Project - European Union – Horizon 2020: 2016 -Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions -ITN, “circRTrain” - Fondazione Telethon - Istituto Pasteur, Fondazione Cenci-Bolognetti

Selected Publications

Principal fields of interest Molecular biology of RNA: Discovery of several new classes of non coding RNAs with important functions in cell differentiation and in disease and definition of their mechanism of actions. Among them the identification of circular RNAs with a significant role in muscle homeostasis. Fazi F., Rosa A., Fatica A., De Marchis M. L., Gelmetti V., Nervi C. and Bozzoni I. (2005) A mini-circuitry comprising microRNA-223 and transcription factors NFI-A and C/EBP regulates human granulopoiesis. Cell, 123: 819-831. Cesana M., Cacchiarelli D.Legnini I., Santini T., Sthandier O., Chinappi M., Tramontano A. and Bozzoni I. (2011) Key ceRNA role for the long non-codingRNA linc-MD1 in the control of muscle differentiation. Cell, 147: 358-369 Fatica A. and Bozzoni I. (2014) Long non-coding RNAs: new players in cell differentiation and development. Nature Review Genetics, 15:7-21 Legnini I., Morlando M., Mangiavacchi A., Fatica A. and Bozzoni. I.. (2014) A feed forward regulatory loop between the HuR protein and the long non coding RNA linc-MD1 controls early phases of muscle differentiation. Mol. Cell, 53:1–9. Ballarino M., Morlando M., Fatica A. and Bozzoni I. (2016) Non-coding RNAs in muscle differentiation and musculoskeletal disease. J. Clin Invest, 126: 2021-2030. Legnini I., Di Timoteo G, Rossi F, Briganti F, Sthandier O, Morlando M, Fatica A, Andronache A, Wade M, Rajewsky N Bozzoni I (2017) – circ-ZNF609 is a circular RNA that can be translated and functions in myogenesis, Mol Cell, 66:22-37. Dimartino D., Colantoni A., Ballarino M., Martone J., Danner J., Mariani D., Bruckmann A., Meister G., Morlando M. and Bozzoni I. (2018). The long non coding RNA lnc-31 interacts with Rock1 mRNA and mediates its YB-1-dependent translation. Cell Reports, 23:733-740. Ballarino M, Cipriano A, Tita R, Santini T, Desideri F, Morlando M, Colantoni A, Carrieri C, Nicoletti C, Musarò A, Carroll DO, Bozzoni I. (2018) Deficiency in the nuclear long noncoding RNA Charme causes myogenic defects and heart remodeling in mice. EMBO J., 37. pii: e99697 Rossi F., Legnini I., Megiorni F., Colantoni A., Santini T., Morlando M., Di Timoteo G., Dattilo D., Dominici C. and Bozzoni I. (2019). Circ-ZNF609 regulates G1-S progression in rhabdomyosarcoma. Oncogene, in press. Neuromuscular diseases: Set up a novel strategy for the gene therapy of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy based on the exon skipping methodology. Identification of new serum biomarkers for the study of the progression of the disease and for testing the outcome of therapeutic treatments. Denti M.A., Rosa A., D’Antona G., Sthandier O., De Angelis F.G., Nicoletti C., Allocca M., Pansarasa O., Parente V., Musarò A., Auricchio A., Bottinelli R. and Bozzoni I. (2006) Body-wide gene therapy of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in the mdx mouse model. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 103: 3758-3763. Cacchiarelli D., Martone J., Girardi E., Cesana M., Incitti T., Nicoletti C., Santini T., Sthandier O., Auricchio A., Musarò A. & Bozzoni I. (2010). microRNAs Involved in Molecular Circuitries Relevant for the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Pathogenesis Are Controlled by the Dystrophin/nNOS Pathway. Cell Metabolism, 12:341-51 Cacchiarelli D., Legnini I. Martone J., D’Amico A., Bertini E. and Bozzoni I. (2011) miRNAs as serum biomarkers for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. EMBO Mol Med., 5:258-265. Martone J., Briganti F., Legnini I., Morlando M., Picillo E., Sthandier O., Politano L. and Bozzoni I. (2016) The lack of the Celf2a splicing factor converts a Duchenne genotype into a Becker phenotype. Nat Commun. 7:10488. Neurodegenerative diseases: Production of induced Pluripotent Stem Cells derived from ALS patients as well as from murine models and reconstitution of in vitro motoneuron differentiation. Identification of several molecular pathways altered in specific ALS mutations. Dini Modigliani S, Morlando M, Errichelli L, Sabatelli M, Bozzoni I. (2014). An ALS-associated mutation in the FUS 3'-UTR disrupts a microRNA-FUS regulatory circuitry. Nat Commun. 5:4335-41. Lenzi J., De Santis R., de Turris V., Morlando M., Calvo A., Caliendo V., Chiò A., Rosa A. and Bozzoni I. (2015) ALS mutant FUS protein is recruited into stress granules in induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) derived neurons. Dis. Models and Mech., 8:755-66. Errichelli L., Dini Modigliani S., Laneve P., Colantoni A., Legnini I., Capauto D., Rosa A., De Santis R., Scarfò R., Giovanna P., Lei L., Caffarelli E., Shneider N., Morlando M. and Bozzoni I. (2017) FUS affects circular RNA expression in murine embryonic stem cell-derived motor neurons. Nat Commun., 30:14741. De Santis R., Santini L., Colantoni A. , Peruzzi G., de Turris V., Alfano V., Bozzoni I. and Rosa A. (2017) FUS mutant human motoneurons display altered transcriptome and 2 microRNA pathways with implications for ALS pathogenesis. Stem Cell Reports, 9:1450-1462. Capauto D., Colantoni A., Lu L., Santini T., Peruzzi G., Biscarini S., Morlando M., Shneider N.A., Caffarelli E., Laneve and Bozzoni I. (2018) A regulatory circuitry between Gria2, miR-409 and miR-495 is affected by ALS FUS mutation in ESC-derived motor neurons. Mol Neurobiology, Feb12, doi: 10.1007/s12035-018-0884-4 Biscarini S., Capauto D., Peruzzi G., Lu L., Colantoni A., Santini T., Shneider N., Caffarelli E., Laneve P. and Bozzoni I. (2018) Characterization of the lncRNA transcriptome in mESC-derived motor neurons: implications for FUS-ALS. Stem Cell Research, 27:172-179 Third mission and society Several patents have been transferred to the industry and one received the “Orphan Drug” designation from EMEA. These discoveries are related to molecules for therapeutic and diagnostic applications. These activities have been carried out under collaborative efforts with patients’ associations (Parent Project). Granted patents. - EP 1644499 – Australia 2004256322 - JP4762897- “siRNA expression system” Licenced to: “Promega”. Inventors: Bozzoni I., Denti M. and Rosa A. - EP1501931 - “Chimeric antisense snRNA molecoles against splice junctions of dystrophin and therapeutic implications” Licenced to: “Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics” (AMT) Inventors: Bozzoni I. and De Angelis G.F. - WO 2011/154852 “Modified snRNAs for the use in Therapy” Inventors: Bozzoni I., Incitti T, De Angelis G.F - PCT/EP2010/057088 - “miRNA biomarkers for the diagnosis of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy progression, for monitoring therapeutic interventions and as therapeutics” Licenced to "Ylichron". Inventors: Bozzoni I., Martone J., Cacchiarelli D. and Girardi E. - PCT/EP2010/057093 - “miR-31 in Duchenne Muscolar Dystrophy therapy” – Inventors: Bozzoni I., Martone J., Cacchiarelli D. and Incitti T.


- In 2013 was awarded of an ERC-Advanced Grant - In 2010 was awarded the "Sapienza Ricerca Award". - In 2008 was invited to give the “Lectio magistralis” for the inauguration of the academic year at Sapienza, University of Rome - In 2003 and 2006 was awarded two Prizes by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. - Member of European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and of the "Academia Europaea" - Member of Italian Society for Biophysics and Molecular Biology - Member of the “Accademia Medica”


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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.