- Research Group Leader, Iorio Group
Francesco is a computer scientist by training. He completed his PhD studies at the University of Salerno and the TeleThon Institute of Genetics and Medicine (TIGEM, Naples – Italy), where he focused on computational methods for drug discovery and repositioning.
Subsequently, he has been awarded a joint EMBL – European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) and Wellcome Sanger Institute (WSI) post-doctoral (ESPOD) fellowship to work on integrative computational frameworks for predicting and dissecting drug sensitivity in cancer, analysing data from large-scale in vitro drug screens.
Following this, as a senior bioinformatician at EBI, Francesco has been the leading the analysis of data from a large-scale genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 pooled screen across hundreds of cancer cell lines, with the aim of identifying synthetic lethalities in cancer and identifying new therapeutic targets.
From 2018 to 2020 he has been leading the WSI’s Cancer Dependency Map Analytics team, providing computational support to the Cancer Dependency Map partnership: an international endeavour involving the WSI and Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard aiming at identifying all the genetic dependencies and vulnerabilities existing in cancer cells. In this role, he has been leading the development of new algorithms and computational tools for the analysis and integration of large-scale cancer pharmacogenomics and functional genomics datasets (from chemical and genome editing screens).
Since late 2020 Francesco is a Research Group Leader in Computational Biology at the Human Technopole (Milan, Italy) where he is establishing a research program in Computational cancer Pharmacogenomics and Therapeutic Target Discovery.
Since November 2019 he is a Scientific Advisor for the joint Cancer Research Horizon – AstraZeneca Functional Genomics Centre (Cambridge, UK).
11/2021 - BMC Genomics
CoRe: a robustly benchmarked R package for identifying core-fitness genes in genome-wide pooled CRISPR-Cas9 screens
Background CRISPR-Cas9 genome-wide screens are being increasingly performed, allowing systematic explorations of cancer dependencies at unprecedented accuracy and scale. One of the major computational challenges when analysing data derived from such screens is to identify genes that are essential for cell survival invariantly across tissues, conditions, and genomic-contexts (core-fitness genes), and to distinguish them from […]
09/2021 - Clinical Cancer Research
Functional impact of genomic complexity on the transcriptome of Multiple Myeloma
Purpose: Multiple Myeloma (MM) is a biologically heterogenous plasma-cell disorder. In this study we aimed at dissecting the functional impact on transcriptome of gene mutations, copy-number abnormalities (CNAs), and chromosomal rearrangements (CRs). Moreover, we applied a geno-transcriptomic approach to identify specific biomarkers for personalized treatments. Methods: We analyzed 514 newly-diagnosed patients from the IA12 release […]
03/2021 - Nature Communications
Integrated cross-study datasets of genetic dependencies in cancer
CRISPR-Cas9 viability screens are increasingly performed at a genome-wide scale across large panels of cell lines to identify new therapeutic targets for precision cancer therapy. Integrating the datasets resulting from these studies is necessary to adequately represent the heterogeneity of human cancers and to assemble a comprehensive map of cancer genetic vulnerabilities. Here, we integrated […]
02/2021 - Nature Communications
Combinatorial CRISPR screen identifies fitness effects of gene paralogues
Genetic redundancy has evolved as a way for human cells to survive the loss of genes that are single copy and essential in other organisms, but also allows tumours to survive despite having highly rearranged genomes. In this study we CRISPR screen 1191 gene pairs, including paralogues and known and predicted synthetic lethal interactions to […]
01/2021 - Nature
Cancer research needs a better map
It is time to move beyond tumour sequencing data to identify vulnerabilities in cancers.