Elisabetta Ferretti – University of Copenhagen

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Elisabetta Ferretti

Associate Professor of Developmental Biology


Research profile

The goal of Elisabetta Ferretti and her group is to establish how transcription factors (TF) and signaling pathways interact to define a precise cell fate. Altered transcriptional programs are a hallmark of developmental malformations and diseases such as cancer. Thus, unraveling complex transcriptional networks in the embryo or in cellular systems will help understanding of how diseases occur and, in the long run, provide strategies for prevention and cure.

Awards and Honours

2015 Project1 grant from The Danish Council for Independent Research (Styrelsen for Forskning og Innovation Grant) 

2015 Marie Curie Individual Fellowship – Re-Integration panel

2005 Marie Curie Outgoing International Fellowship.

2002 EMBO Short-Term Fellowship.

2001 First Prize “ Outstanding Young Researcher 2001” DIBIT, Milan.

1998 EMBO Short-Term Fellowship

Research Profile

Since 2013, Associate Professor, junior group leader at The Danish Stem Cell Center, DanStem, University of Copenhagen

2010-2013 Senior Research Associate, Laboratory of Dr. Licia Selleri, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Supervisor of two PhD students and two postdocs Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, USA.

2004-2010, Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Dr. Licia Selleri, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, USA.

2007, Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Dr. Filippo Rijli, Department of Developmental Biology, Institut de Genetique et de Biologie Moleculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC), Strasbourg, France.

2004, Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, Open University, London, PhD thesis defense,University Vita Salute, San Raffaele Hospital, Milan, Italy.

Selected scientific publications

Handschuh, Karen, Jennifer Feenstra, Matthew Koss, Elisabetta Ferretti, Maurizio Risolino, Rediet Zewdu, Michelle A. Sahai, Jean-Denis Bénazet, Xiao P. Peng, Michael J. Depew, Laura Quintana, James Sharpe, Baolin Wang, Heather Alcorn, Roberta Rivi, Stephen Butcher, J. Robert Manak, Thomas Vaccari, Harel Weinstein, Kathryn V. Anderson, Elizabeth Lacy, Licia Selleri (2014). ESCRT-II/Vps25 constrains digit number by endosome-mediated selective modulation of FGF-SHH signaling. Cell Reports, 9(2), 674-87, doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.09.019. 

Feldhahn, Niklas, Elisabetta Ferretti, Davide Robbiani, Elsa Callen, Stephanie Deroubaix, Licia Selleri, Andre Nussenzweig & Michel C. Nussenzweig (2012). The hSSB1 orthologue Obfc2b is essential for skeletogenesis but dispensable for the DNA damage response in vivo. EMBO Journal, 31(20), 4045-4056, doi: 10.1038/emboj.2012.247.

Sgado, Paola, Elisabetta Ferretti, Daniel Grbec, Yuri Bozzi & Horst H. Simon (2012).The atypical homeoprotein Pbx1a participates in the axonal pathfinding of mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons. Neural Development, 7(24), doi:10.1186/1749-8104-7-24.

Ferretti, Elisabetta, Bingsi Li, Rediet Zewdu, Victoria Wells, Jean M. Hebert, Courtney Karner, Matthew J. Anderson, Trevor Williams, Jill Dixon, Michael J. Dixon, Michael J. Depew & Licia Selleri (2011). A Conserved Pbx-Wnt-p63-Irf6 Regulatory Module Controls Face Morphogenesis by Promoting Epithelial Apoptosis. Developmental Cell,21(4), 627-641, doi:10.1016/j.devcel.2011.08.005. (Highlight on the “Faculty of 1000” and “Science” magazine in their “Editor’s Choice” editorial (issue of 28 October 2011).
“By using mouse models, I identified the molecular network (Pbx-Wnt-p63-Irf6) that controls midface morphogenesis and I found that disruption within this molecular network leads to cleft lip and palate to (CL/P), which is the most common craniofacial birth defect. In a critical genetic rescue experiment, I was able to completely repair the CL/P in Pbx mutant embryos. These results have had a considerable importance for developing targeted treatments to cure human craniofacial congenital malformations in utero.”

Vitobello, Antonio*, Elisabetta Ferretti*, Xavier Lampe, Nathalie Vilain, Sebastien Ducret, Michela Ori, Jean-Francois Spetz, Licia Selleri & Filippo M. Rijli (2011). Hox and Pbx Factors Control Retinoic Acid Synthesis during Hindbrain Segmentation.Developmental Cell, 20(4), 469-482, doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2011.03.011. *authors contributed equally.
“I used Pbx mouse mutants, which have defective hindbrain segmentation, as a model to study how the nervous system develops. I discovered a novel Pbx-dependent molecular mechanism governing mesodermal RA levels, which in turn controls proper hindbrain development. I found that in the embryonic mesoderm Pbx genes control RA levels by direct transcriptional regulation of the RA synthesizing enzyme. Ultimately, these results provided novel insights into the understanding of the congenital abnormalities of the nervous system.”