Emilia Caputo


Emilia Caputo


  +39 081 6132307/446/455   emilia.caputo@igb.cnr.it

Molecular Oncology

Keywords: Breast Cancer Patient-derived Organoids; Multicellular Spheroids (MCSs); Breast Cancer; gp17/GCDFP-15/SABP/PIP; BRAF-driven Cancers; Melanoma; Drug Resistance in Cancer; Targeted Therapy; Biomarker Discovery.


My research program focuses on cancer, by integrating broad disciplines centered on translational sciences. My key research activities include:

Charting and modeling molecular pathways for developing novel therapeutic strategies in melanoma treatment. An extensive melanoma molecular characterization is ongoing in order to identify molecular biomarkers and/or networks associated to its progression which could be exploited for the development of innovative and efficacious therapeutic strategies.

These studies have already contributed to the identification of a novel melanoma-associated molecular pathway, where Ran, Aurora Kinase A (AurkA) and TERT were up-regulated while c-myc and PTEN were down-regulated (Caputo E et al., Cancer Letters 2015, 357: 286-296). Starting from these data, we have demonstrated that AurkA inhibitors plus MEK inhibitors or in triple combination with B-RAF inhibitors might offer a therapeutic alternative for patients without B-RAF mutations or for B-RAF mutated melanomas, respectively (Caputo E et al., Journal Translational Medicine 2014, 12: 216).

Exploring drug resistance in melanoma. Since, melanomas develop resistance to target-based therapeutics (ie. B-RAFi, MEKi) we need to understand how melanoma cells are able to escape drug effect. We have generated melanoma cell lines resistant to Dabrafenib, a B-RAF inhibitor, and to Dabrafenib plus Trametinib, a MEK inhibitor.  We have characterized the phenotypic properties of human melanoma cells resistant to dabrafenib (Cordaro et al. Oncology Reports 2017, 38: 2741-2751). Ongoing studies are aimed at investigating the metabolic properties of these drug-resistant cancer cells with the purpose to use both phenotype and metabolic profiling data to identify new targets for biological drugs development.

Cancer Modeling for Personalized Medicine. We need new strategies to better personalize drug therapies, and better approaches to combat drug resistance. Systems biology can be the common platform for classifying disease states, biological networks, and drug response.

We are developing breast cancer patient derived organoids, and innovative methods for a fast characterization at molecular and phenotypic level, in order to identify molecular profiles matching disease to biology to drug to effectively treat patients. These studies are critical to identify points of vulnerability for drug targeting

Searching for Potential Anti-Cancer Agents. Research and development studies are ongoing in order to identify potential anticancer agent candidates for cancer treatment deriving from vegetables (Mandrich et al., Nutrients 2020, 12, 868).


2021-present Responsible of the ‘Breast Cancer Tissues and Organoids’ Biobank at CRB-IGB. 

2004-present  CNR Researcher. Institute of Genetics and Biophysics-IGB-Council National of Research (CNR), Naples, Italy.


2016    Specialization in Clinical Pathology. Facoltà di Medicina e Chirurgia/ Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Università degli studi di Catania/ Italy

2012    PhD (Oncologia XXIV Ciclo). Facoltà di Medicina e Chirurgia/ Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Università degli studi di Catania/ Italy. PhD Supervisor: Prof. Salvatore Travali, MD

1996    Master of Science in Biological Science. Facoltà di Scienze Biologiche/ Dipartmento di Genetica, Università degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II”, Naples, Italy


2004-2006      Director Protein Facility laboratory, IGB-CNR, Naples, Italy.



2006-2008      Marie Curie Fellowship TOK (Transfer of Knowledge). National University of Ireland, National Diagnostic Center, NUIG Galway, Ireland.

2000-2003      Fogarty Fellowship. NIMH, Unit on Molecular Structures, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA. 

1999-2000      CNR Fellow. IGB-CNR, Naples, Italy.

1996-1999      CNR Fellow. IGB-CNR, Naples, Italy.


2016                ERSU Scholarship Award, Università degli studi di Catania, Italy 

2012                ERSU Scholarship Award, Università degli studi di Catania, Italy 

2004-2005    AIDS Award, Istituto Superiore di Sanità / Italy

2004                FARE Award (NIH), Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE), NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA.

1996                EDISU Scholarship Award, Università degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II”, Italy

1996                FIAT Award, FIAT, Italy.


2012-2013    Teacher – Processi innovativi di sintesi biomolecolare applicata a tecniche di epigenetica, Dipartimento Scienze Chimiche e Tecnologie dei Materiali (CNR) / Istituto di Biochimica delle Proteine (IBP) /Istituto di Chimica Biomolecolare (ICB) & Cosvitec Soc Cons arl, Italy.

2004-2006    Teacher – Protein Purification Methods, Università degli Studi di Napoli ‘Federico II’ & CNR, Italy

2002-2003    Teacher – Proteinchip arrays and its application, BioTrac 25 Courses, National Institute of Health, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA.


2020-present           Member of IGB Council, Institute of Genetics and Biophysics-Council National of Research (CNR), Italy


2017-present            Editorial Board Member, Argomenti di Oncologia Geriatrica, Edisciences

2009-present            PRIN projects Expert Reviewer, Ministery of Education, University and Research (MIUR), Italy


2017-present           Co-founder of HIGGS Senology Responsibility, Non-Profit Foundation to fight against Breast Cancer, Italy


Lucia Miranda, MD. Biobanking of Breast Cancer patient-derived living organoids. Azienda Ospedaliera dei Colli – Monaldi

Annalisa Fico, PhD. Biobanking of Breast Cancer patient-derived living organoids. IGB/CNR

Luigi Mandrich, PhD. Development of novel anti-cancer drugs from vegetable sources. IRET / CNR

Luigi Panico, MD. Drug Resistance in Melanoma. Azienda Ospedaliera dei Colli – Monaldi

  • Antonia Valeria Esposito, undergraduate student
  • Silvio Costa, undergraduate student