Team (with old page layout)

Our team members

 Prof. Michele De Palma Head of the Lab +41(0)2169 37271
+41(0)2169 31844

Miki De Palma graduated in Biology (1999) at the University of Torino, Italy, with a master thesis on the antiproliferative activities of type-I interferons in cancer cells. In 2004, he obtained a PhD Degree in Cell Biotechnologies from the University of Torino Medical School, where he studied the contribution of bone marrow-derived cells to tumor angiogenesis under the direction of gene therapy pioneer, Dr. Luigi Naldini. He performed his post-doctoral training at the Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy (TIGET) in Milan, to further characterize the pro-angiogenic functions of tumor-associated macrophages and develop gene transfer strategies for reprogramming them into anti-tumoral immune cells. In 2008, he was appointed group leader (with tenure since 2011) at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, and joined the ISREC Institute, at the EPFL School of Life Sciences, in 2012. He teaches cancer biology at EPFL and serves on the editorial/advisory boards of Science Translational Medicine (AAAS), Cell Reports (Cell press), BBA-Reviews on Cancer (section editor), Cancer Immunology Research (AACR), and Carcinogenesis. In his spare time, he enjoys travelling to sub-saharan Africa and writing boring articles and books on the taxonomy of the African fruit and flower chafers. Miki received two ERC grants, in 2009 and 2016.

Awards (selected)
2001 and 2003: Excellence in Research Award, American Society of Gene Therapy (ASGT)
2004-06: Post-doctoral fellowship, Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC)
2007: Young Investigator Award, European Society of Gene Therapy (ESGT)
2009: European Research Council (ERC) Starting grant
2012: Anna Fuller Prize
2013: Leenaards Prize
2013: AAAS Wachtel Cancer Research Award (Honorable Mention).
2016: European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator grant
2017: Robert Wenner Prize for Cancer Research
   Soledad Andany Secretary 41(0)2169 31844 SV2513
Soledad Andany is in charge of the lab administration. Swiss with Spanish origin, Soledad was born and educated in Geneva and has recently returned to Switzerland after 15 years in the South of France. She has worked in several international companies, mainly in accounting. She is fluent in French, English and Spanish.
Dr Mansouri Nahal Visiting Scientist 41(0)2169 37274 SV2528
Nahal Mansouri graduated in Medicine in 2010 from Shahid Beheshti Medical University in Iran. She completed specialty training in internal medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and subspecialty training in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School in Boston, U.S.A. Between medical training and residency, she researched immunology pathways involved in TB and genetic defects that lead to disseminated mycobacterial and viral infections in the Casanova’s lab, at the Rockefeller University in New York. During her fellowship, she joined the lab of Prof. Kourembanas at Boston Children’s Hospital, where she studied mesenchymal stem cell-derived exosomes in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Striving for a career as a physician-scientist, she started working as a pulmonologist at the University Hospital of Lausanne (CHUV) and as a visiting scientist in the De Palma’s Lab in 2018, where she studies the effects of tumor-derived extracellular vesicles in the lung microenvironment.
   Dr Ioanna Keklikoglou Post-doc +41(0)2169 37293 SV2528
Ioanna Keklikoglou graduated in Biology (2008) from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, where she characterized the role of certain aminoacids in TRAF5 and TRAF6 molecules during NF-kappaB signaling activation. In 2012, she received her PhD Degree in Molecular Biology from the Ruperto-Carola University of Heidelberg, Germany. During her PhD studies, which were performed at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), she developed a screening strategy to identify miRNAs that regulate NF-kappaB signaling in cancer cells. She joined the ISREC Institute, at the EPFL School of Life Sciences in 2013. She studies microenvironment-mediated tumor resistance to anti-cancer therapies in breast and lung cancer.
   Dr Chiara Cianciaruso Post-doc +41(0)2169 37293 SV2528
Chiara Cianciaruso graduated in 2012 in Medical Biotechnology from San Raffaele University in Milan, Italy.  During her master thesis and a subsequent period as a research fellow, she performed a study on the specificity of iron oxide particles used to track transplanted neural stem cells by magnetic resonance imaging. She then moved to EPFL to work on type 1 diabetes and mechanisms of autoimmunity in the laboratory of Dr. Baekkeskov, and obtained her PhD in 2016. She joined the De Palma’s lab in 2017, where she is currently studying tumor-derived extracellular vesicles.
Dr Florent Duval Post-doc +41(0)2169 37293 SV2528

Florent graduated as a biological engineer from the Université de Technologie de Compiègne (France) in 2010. During his engineering studies, he performed an internship at Merck Serono, Geneva, for developing screening assays in multiple sclerosis. He then moved to Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Mexico) to pursue doctoral studies. His work focused on investigating a new biomarker for cholestatic liver diseases in a bile duct ligation model. In 2017 he joined the De Palma’s Lab where he studies tumor-derived extracellular vesicles as vehicles of cancer-associated antigens.

 Dr Sina Nassiri Post-doc; Bioinformatician +41(0)2169 37293 SV2528

Sina Nassiri is a member of the Bioinformatics Core Facility (BCF) at the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB), and provides biostatistics and bioinformatics support to the De Palma group. Sina obtained his bachelors in engineering from Sharif University of Technology (Tehran-Iran), and his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Drexel University (Philadelphia, USA). His areas of expertise include functional data analysis, multivariate statistics, and immuno-genomics. 

   Céline Wyser Rmili Lab manager +41(0)2169 37274 SV2528
Céline Wyser Rmili performed her training as a laboratory technician in the Centre for Integrative Genomics at the University of Lausanne. During this period she worked in three different laboratories and learned several techniques, spanning from mouse studies, plant and molecular biology. In 2009 she received her CFC and worked in the laboratory of Christian Hardtke, at the Department of Plant Molecular Biology at the University of Lausanne. She worked mainly on Arabidopsis thaliana and assisted several post-doc’s with their projects. She joined the De Palma’s lab at the ISREC Institute at EPFL School of Life Sciences in 2013 with the role of lab manager.
 Alan Guichard Lab manager +41(0)2169 37274 SV2528
Alan graduated from the University of Versailles in 2007 with a bachelor degree in Biotechnologies. He then worked in the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Orléans, in the laboratory of the Professor Claudine Kieda where he was mainly involved in the establishment of a cell-mediated gene therapy to target tumor angiogenesis. In 2013, he joined the laboratory of the Dr. Philippe Chavrier in Institut Curie, Paris, taking part in the study of the transition of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) to invasive breast carcinoma. He then moved to Lausanne to join the unit of the Professor George Coukos in 2016, helping setting up a humanized mice platform to test novel immune therapies until he joined the De Palma’s lab in 2017.
 Bruno Torchia Technician +41(0)2169 37274 SV2528
Bruno Torchia performed his training as a laboratory technician in the Medical University Center of Geneva. During this period, he worked in the laboratories of Professor Paolo Meda and Dr. Francesco Negro on diabetes and Hepatitis C research projects. In 2013 he received his CFC diploma and started to work in the laboratory of Professor Douglas Hanahan, where he studied immunotherapy in cervical cancer models. He joined the De Palma’s lab in 2018.
   Ece Kadioglu PhD student +41(0)2169 37293 SV2528
Ece was graduated in 2011 as a double major student from the Department of Chemical Engineering & Department of Chemistry in Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey. Her Bachelor project covered the investigation of the transcriptional responses of MIG1, MIG2, HAP4 and GSM1 genes in S.cerevisiae to transient perturbations under carbon and nitrogen limited conditions. She joined the De Palma’s lab to perform her Master project and pursue her doctorate thesis studying the interactions among ANG2 and VEGFA signaling and the immune system. She is currently performing her doctorate studies by focusing on immunotherapies in lung cancer models.
 Tim Beltraminelli PhD student +41(0)2169 37293 SV2528

Tim graduated in 2012 in Biology at the University of Lausanne. He was then selected for the “Programme Passerelle” of the University of Lausanne, and obtained the Master of Medicine and the Swiss Federal Diploma of Human Medicine in 2016. For his master thesis, Tim joined the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neurotherapies (Prof. Deglon) to develop a gene therapy strategy for Huntington’s disease. During his medical studies he also worked at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) in Bellinzona, where he performed an internship in protein folding and another in immunology (Prof. Lanzavecchia). In 2016, Tim received a MD-PhD FNS grant for his thesis studies, and joined Prof. De Palma’s lab in June 2017, where he works on macrophage-vascular communication in cancer.

Ali Ghasemi PhD student +41(0)2169 37293 SV2528

Ali obtained his bachelor and master degree from the Department of Biotechnology, College of Science, University of Tehran. During his master, he worked on the recombinant production, purification, and anti-cancer properties of a therapeutic enzyme. After his master, he made an internship at Nivad Pharmed (Tehran-Iran), where he contributed to the production of a vaccine against oncogenic serotypes of human Papillomavirus (HPV). Ali joined the De Palma’s lab in 2018 to develop genetically-engineered dendritic cells for melanoma and lung cancer.

Yahya Mohammadzadeh PhD student +41(0)2169 37293 SV2528

Yahya Mohammadzadeh obtained his bachelor in Cell and Molecular Biology in 2015 from the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (FUM) in Iran. During his undergraduate studies, he joined a lab in the Pasteur Institute of Tehran as a full-time research associate where they developed a DNA delivery platform based on Virosome technology. He then moved to the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada, to pursue his master internship. During his master, he studied the process of mitophagy (autophagy of damaged mitochondria). After his graduation in 2018, he joined the De Palma’s lab at EPFL to develop novel chimeric receptors for cancer immunotherapy.

Caleb Perez Intern – Fullbright Scholar +41(0)2169 37293 SV2528
Caleb completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Washington, graduating in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering. During this time, he received training in cancer immunotherapies in a variety of settings, including his senior thesis in immunomodulatory biomaterials for CAR T cell activation, an internship at Juno Therapeutics studying non-viral gene delivery to T cells, and an internship in the De Palma’s lab working on cancer vaccines. He returned to the De Palma’s lab as a 2018-19 Fulbright Scholar to continue his previous work toward engineering dendritic cells for cancer immunotherapy.
Cyril Pulver Master Student +41(0)2169 37293 SV2528
Cyril obtained a bachelor in Life Sciences and Technologies at EPFL (2016) and is pursuing his cursus there with a master in Life Sciences and Technologies. Cyril took part to the iGEM competition as an EPFL team member (2015) and joined research teams both inside and outside academia for internships. Cyril joined the De Palma’s lab in 2018, where he is completing his master thesis project under the co-supervision of Dr. Sina Nassiri. Using bioinformatics approaches, he studies the role of macrophages in mouse models of resistance to kinase inhibitors.


  Prof. Luisa Iruela-Arispe Visiting professor


Luisa Iruela-Arispe received her Ph.D. in 1989 from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil and followed post-doctoral training at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA where she studied the contribution of extracellular matrix to the process of angiogenesis. From 1994-1998 she was Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and subsequently joined UCLA where she has been since 1998. Currently she is Distinguished Professor and Vice-Chair of the Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology Department at UCLA. She is also the Interim Director of the Molecular Biology Institute and the Director of the Cancer Stem Cell Biology program at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the same institution. At EPFL, Dr. Iruela-Arispe performed a 1-year sabbatical period working with the group of Miki De Palma to explore the contribution of macrophages to vessel growth in the context of tumors.
Dr Mario Leonardo
Senior post-doc
Mario Leonardo Squadrito graduated in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology (2008) at the University of L’Aquila, where he designed and characterized the activity of a recombinant EGF-Saporin fusion protein. In 2012, he obtained a PhD degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the San Raffaele University (Milan) and the Open University (UK); in the course of his studies, he identified and characterized the function of miR-511-3p, a microRNA highly expressed in tumor-associated macrophages. He joined the ISREC Institute, at the EPFL School of Life Sciences, in 2012. He focused his interests on the biogenesis of miRNAs and their roles in tumor-associated macrophages and inter-cellular communication. Moreover, Mario developed new strategies based on genetic cell engineering for targeting anti-tumoral monocytes to cancer.
He is currently Project Leader at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy.
 Dr Martina Schmittnägel Post-doc
Martina Schmittnägel received her Master degree in cell and molecular  biology from the Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU) Erlangen-Nuremberg in 2010. She conducted her Master thesis in the department of Molecular Immunology focusing on the functional characterization of a novel protein expressed in B cells. For her PhD thesis, she joined Roche Innovation Center (Munich) to work on T cell-recruiting, immunotherapeutic tumor-targeting antibodies, and obtained her PhD in 2015 from the FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg. She joined the ISREC Institute at the EPFL School of Life Sciences in 2015 to develop novel immunotherapeutic strategies based on co-targeting tumor angiogenesis.
She currently works at Roche, Penzberg, Germany.
  Dr Damya Laoui Visiting post-doc
Damya Laoui graduated in Bio-Engineering Sciences (2008) at the Free University of Brussels, where she explored the molecular and functional phenotype of tumor-associated macrophage subpopulations in breast cancer. In 2014, she obtained a PhD degree in the lab of Myeloid Cell Immunology (VIB-VUB, Brussels) under the supervision of Patrick the Baetselier and Jo Van Ginderachter, where she analyzed the role of CSFR1 and hypoxia signaling in regulating the phenotype of tumor-associated macrophage subsets. In order to continue this line of work, she obtained a post-doctoral grant from the Flemish League Against Cancer to study the role of inflammasomes in tumor-associated macrophages and dendritic cells in the groups of Jo Van Ginderachter (VIB-VUB, Brussels) and Mohamed Lamkanfi (VIB-UGent, Ghent). Damya joined the De Palma lab at the ISREC Institute in the EPFL School of Life Sciences as a visiting post-doc in 2015-2016. She returned to VIB-VUB in 2017.
  Dr Nicolò Rigamonti Post-doc
Nicolò Rigamonti received his Master degree in Molecular Biotechnology (2007) from the Milano-Bicocca University. He performed his master thesis at the Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm), developing an affibody-based strategy to treat mouse mammary tumors. In 2011, he obtained a PhD degree in Molecular Medicine from the San Raffaele University. During his PhD studies, partly performed at the Harvard Medical School (Boston), he studied the interplay between the tumor and the immune system, providing insight into the mechanisms underlying the induction of tumor immune tolerance. He joined the ISREC Institute, at the EPFL School of Life Sciences, in 2012 to study the interplay between angiogenesis and adaptive immunity in mouse models of cancer, and completed his post-doctoral training in 2015.
Nicolò is currently Project Scientist at Molecular Partners (Zurich).
   Dr. Daniela Biziato PhD student
Daniela Biziato graduated in Medical Biotechnology and Molecular Oncology (2006) at the University of Milan, where she studied the effects of hyperthermia on tumor cell proliferation and apoptosis. From 2007 to 2009, she worked as a research fellow at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, where she studied the involvement of TIE2-expressing macrophages (TEMs) in developmental and tumor angiogenesis. In 2010, she entered a PhD program in Molecular Medicine at the San Raffaele University in Milan. She joined the ISREC Institute, at the EPFL School of Life Sciences, in 2012 to complete her doctoral studies. After her PhD in De Palma’s lab, Daniela performed post-doctoral training at King’s College, London, UK.
She has worked at Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, London, and currently at CHUV, as Process Development Scientist.
   Caroline Baer PhD student
Caroline Baer graduated at EPFL in 2011 as an engineer in Life Sciences and Technology. She did her master project at the University of Oxford, working on the role of the family of Apoptosis Stimulating Protein of p53 (ASPP) in cancer. In the De Palma’s lab she analyzed microRNAs expressed by tumor-associated macrophages, with the goal to understand their tumor-promoting and antagonizing functions. She identified DICER and Let-7 as important regulators of macrophage activation in tumors (Baer et al., Nat Cell Biol).
After completing her doctoral program, Caroline joined Nestlé as a research scientist.
   Célia Daugeron Technician
Celia studied Integrative Biology and Physiology at UPMC (Université Pierre et Marie Curie) in Paris. She joined the De Palma’s lab in 2017.
   Danielle Thompson Technician
Danielle Thompson graduated from the University of Lausanne (Unil) with a master’s in Molecular Life Sciences in 2015. She specialized in microbiology by performing a semester project on bacteriophages at UNIL and her master project on HIV-1 at the University Hospital Center of Lausanne (CHUV). The goal of her master project was to carry out a functional screen on HIV-1 restriction factors previously selected from a bioinformatic screen. Danielle worked as a technician in the laboratroy of Prof. De Palma in 2015-2016, before relocating to the US.
   Claudio Maderna Biosafety Level 2
lab manager
Claudio Maderna graduated in Biomedical Laboratory Techniques (2004) at the University of Milan. He was research assistant at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute from 2005 to 2011 and joined the ISREC Institute, at the EPFL School of Life Sciences, in 2012. He is specialized in molecular biology techniques and supervised lentiviral vector construction and production in our Biosafety Level 2 Lab. He left the De Palma’s lab in November 2014 to retun to his hometown.

Claudio is currently employed as Senior Technician in Dr. Dejana’s group at IFOM, Milan, Italy.

 Elad Drori Intern
Elad Drori joined the De Palma lab in 2017 after completing post-baccalaureate studies at Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He collaborates with several post-docs and graduate students in the lab.
 Dylan Van Tuan Magnin Trainee laboratory assistant
Dylan studied 4 years in Yverdon-les-Bains gymnasium with Biology and Chimie as special subjects. He joined the De Palma’s lab in the summer 2016 to perform his training as a laboratory technician.
 Axel Bellotti Trainee laboratory assistant
Axel joined the De Palma’s lab in the summer 2014 to perform his training as a laboratory technician.
Sarah Hansen Intern – Fullbright Scholar
Sarah Hansen completed a Bacheler of Science in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia (2015). During her undergraduate studies, she researched viral-based cardiac gene delivery for post-myocardial infarction therapies. During an internship at Johns Hopkins University, she studied polymeric-based gene delivery for targeted glioblastoma treatment. She joined the De Palma lab as a Fulbright Scholar for 2015-2016 to work on a project focusing on dendritic cell vaccines.
She moved back to the US in 2017.
 Maria Karagianni Master Student
Maria graduated from her bachelor studies in Biology in 2014 from the University of Patras, Greece. During her bachelor thesis, she performed studies on the activation of NF-κB in lung cancer. As a master student in the Biomedical Sciences in KU Leuven, Belgium, she also worked during her internships on Virology and Chemotherapy, Stem Cells and Epigenetics and Immunotherapy in Gliomas. She joined Dr. De Palma’s lab to perform her master thesis on the role of tumor-associated macrophages in secondary resistance to targeted therapies.
She currently works at Roche, Zurich.
Jean-Baptiste Pignier Master Student
Jean-Baptiste Pignier graduated with a BSc in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Rennes 1, France. He performed his BSc internship at the Institute of Genetics and Development of Rennes where he studied the isoforms of pVHL and their molecular partners in kidney cancer. In his first year of Master in Cell and Molecular Life Sciences, he worked on the hormonal escape of estrogen-responsive breast cancer cells by a functional and conformational study of the estrogen receptor alpha at the IRSET institute. In January 2016 Jean-Baptiste joined the ISREC institute at the EPFL School of Life Sciences to perform his Master thesis. In the De Palma’s lab, he investigated combinations of antiangiogenic and immunotherapeutic antibodies in mouse models of cancer.
He is currently performing a doctoral program in the University of Geneva.
  Daniela Pais Ferreira Master student
Daniela Pais Ferreira received her Bachelor degree in Biology in 2012 from the University of Coimbra, Portugal, and was an intern at the Molecular Pathology Laboratory of the IPO (Portuguese Oncology Institute) of Coimbra, where she performed genetic studies on the BRCA1/BRCA2 genes. While a master student in Molecular Biomedicine, University of Aveiro (Portugal), Daniela joined the De Palma Lab to perform a master thesis thesis on the interplay between angiogenesis and adaptive immunity in mouse models of cancer.
She is currently performing a doctoral program in the University of Lausanne.
  Lucie Giesbrecht Master student
Lucie Giesbrecht received her Bachelor degree in Life Sciences at EPFL in 2013. While a master student in Molecular medicine at EPFL, Lucie joined the De Palma lab to work at her master thesis on genetically-modified monocytes for cancer immunotherapy.
 Luisa Spisak Master student
Luisa is Master student at EPFL, Life Sciences. Originally from Zurich, she moved to Lausanne to study at EPFL. She joined the De Palma lab in September 2014 for an internship to the study tumor resistance to anti-angiogenetic therapy in RIP1-Tag2 mice.
 Fabien Jammes Master student
Fabien Jammes joined the De Palma lab in 2014 as a master student in the Life Sciences at EPFL. He studied the regulation of tumor macrophages by microRNAs.
  Ka Ho Nicholas Cheung Bachelor student
Ka Ho Nicholas Cheung is currently working towards his bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He joined Dr. De Palma’s lab at the ISREC Institute in the EPFL School of Life Sciences as part of the 2014 EPFL Summer Research Internship Program. Working with Daniela Biziato, he has investigated the role of tumor-associated macrophages in secondary resistance to targeted therapies.
  Erik Ferreira Bachelor student
Erik Ferreira de Alencar is a bachelor student in Biomedicine at the Karolinska Institute. He is Swedish with Brazilian origin and was raised in Stockholm. He joined Prof. De Palma’s lab in 2014 to perform his bachelor thesis. In collaboration with Ioanna Keklikoglou, he has studied the impact of chemotherapy on cancer-cell derived exosomes using in vitro and in vivo approaches.
 Shodai Takahashi Visiting PhD student
Shodai Takahashi is a PhD student majoring in chemical biology at the University of Tokyo, Japan. He joined Dr. De Palma’s lab at EPFL as a member of a summer internship program supported by Graduate Program for Leaders in Life Innovation (GPLLI) in 2014. He worked with Caroline, Claudio, and Mario to investigate the relationship between miRNA expression and the macrophage phenotype in cancer.
 Yannick Francioli Bachelor student
Yannick Francioli joined the De Palma’s lab in 2014 to perform his bachelor thesis, working with Mario Leonardo Squadrito on the role of miRNAs in macrophage survival. He is currently a master student in Bioengineering at EPFL.