Bridging Italy and the USA in the fight against COVID-19

The Embassy of Italy in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF) is pleased to invite you to the online scientific conversation: “Bridging Italy and the USA in the fight against COVID-19”.

The event will be opened by the Ambassador of Italy to the United States, H.E. Armando Varricchio, and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy of the White House and Acting Director of the NSF, Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier.

During the event, three outstanding Italian scientists working in leading American institutions and collaborating with Italian colleagues in the fight against COVID-19 will exchange their experiences and opinions.


WHEN: Friday, May 29th 2020 12pm (EST) – 6pm (CET)

WHERE (click to register/connect)



Cristina Cassetti, PhD – Deputy Director, Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), NIH (National Institutes of Health).


Guido Silvestri, MD – Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Comparative Pathology – Professor & Chair, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine. – Chief, Division of Microbiology & Immunology, Yerkes National Primate Research Center.


Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD – Scientific Director VIMM (Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine), Padova, Italy. – Director Cancer Institute, DRI (Desert Research Institute), Renown Health, Nevada System of Higher Education.


Moderated by: Stefania Spatti – US correspondent, Class CNBC.




The panelists:

Cristina Cassetti, PhD. Cristina Cassetti is the Deputy Director of the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID) at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a component of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Dr. Cassetti has a Ph.D. in virology from the University of Rome, Italy.  After her postdoctoral training at the NIH on poxvirus research, she joined Rutgers University as a research associate to study influenza virus. She subsequently joined the Pharmaceutical Company Wyeth as a senior research scientist in the Vaccine Discovery Department where she participated in the development of a therapeutic vaccine against papillomavirus. In 2003 she returned to the NIH as a Program Officer to direct extramural research programs on several emerging viral diseases of global health importance including influenza and dengue. In 2016, she was appointed to coordinate the Zika research response in extramural NIAID and to oversee translational research in the Virology Branch. In 2017 she was appointed as Chief of the Virology Branch where she was responsible for the overall scientific direction, administration and management of the NIAID extramural Program focused on viral diseases. She held this position until 2019 when she became the Deputy Director of DMID.

Guido Silvestri, MD. Dr. Silvestri received his M.D. from the University of Ancona (Italy) in 1987, and after finishing his service in the Italian Navy (1989) he completed his training in Internal Medicine/ Allergology & Clinical Immunology in 1993. Soon after that, he moved to North America and became involved in basic and translational research studies of AIDS pathogenesis, prevention, and therapy, mostly using non-human primate models of HIV infection. In 2001, Dr. Silvestri received a Board Certification in Clinical Pathology upon completion of a residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2001 Dr. Silvestri has directed an independent NIH-funded research program. He is currently the principal investigator or a co-investigator of eighteen NIH grants, including a prestigious R37 MERIT award, and he is involved in both the Consortium for Innovative AIDS Research (CIAR) in non-human primates, the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI), and the Collaboratory of AIDS Researchers for Eradication (CARE). Dr. Silvestri has authored or co-authored 256 peer-reviewed publications in this field, including numerous in the highest impact journals (Nature, Cell, Science, Nature Medicine, etc). He has given invited lectures at >120 different institutions and seminar series in 27 different countries. His work has been quoted >23,000 times, and has been presented in plenary sessions at all the major virology and immunology conferences worldwide. Dr. Silvestri is an Editor of the Journal of Virology, an Associate Editor of PLoS Pathogens, and a past-Editor of the Journal of Immunology. He served as Chairman or Standing Member in >50 study sections and advisory committees at the National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Institute for Health Research, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the Australian Medical Research Council, the European Commission, and various others. Among his current appointments, Dr. Silvestri is President of the Scientific Council of the Agence Nationale pour la Recherche sur le SIDA, member of the Scientific Committee of the Conference on Retrovirus and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), member of the International AIDS Society Scientific Working Group on HIV Cure, and Co-Chaired the 9th International AIDS Conference in Paris, July 2017.


Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD. Dr. Pandolfi received his MD and PhD from the University of Perugia in Italy after studying philosophy at the University of Rome as an undergraduate. He completed post-graduate training at the National Institute for Medical Research and the University of London.  Dr. Pandolfi joined BIDMC and Harvard Medical School (HMS) in 2007 from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where he was head of the Molecular and Developmental Biology Laboratories since 1995 and held the Albert C. Foster Endowed Chair for Cancer Research. He became director of the BIDMC Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute at HMS in 2013, after having served as director of research in the Cancer Center, director of the Cancer Genetics Program and chief of BIDMC’s Division of Genetics in the Department of Medicine. He also held both the Reisman and Aresty Endowed Chairs at HMS. In 2020 Dr. Pandolfi accepted the position of Scientific Director of the VIMM (Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine) in Padova, Italy while also retaining a position as Director of the Cancer Institute at the DRI (Desert Research Institute)/Renown Health, in Reno, Nevada. Dr. Pandolfi is married and he has two daughters. A world leader in cancer genetics and cancer cell biology and the author of more than 500 articles and book chapters, Dr. Pandolfi has conducted research that has led to major breakthroughs in the understanding, treatment, and definitive cures of cancer. His laboratory studies have been seminal at revealing the molecular mechanisms and genetics underlying the pathogenesis of leukemias and solid tumors, enabling him and his research team to model these cancers in mice. Dr. Pandolfi and his colleagues have characterized the function of the fusion oncoproteins and the genes involved in the chromosomal translocations of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) and of major tumor suppressors, such as PTEN and p53, and novel cancer genes, such as POKEMON, INPP4B and WWP1. Critically, his work to uncover the molecular basis underlying APL pathogenesis and modeling this disease in the mouse led to the development of novel and effective therapeutic strategies. On the basis of these findings, APL is now considered a curable disease. Novel therapeutic concepts have emerged from this work and are currently being tested in multiple clinical trials.  Furthermore, Dr. Pandolfi led revolutionary studies revealing that non-coding RNAs regulate basic biological processes such as growth and tumorigenesis, thus dispelling long-held beliefs that non-protein coding genes in the human genome were “junk.” He and his colleagues uncovered a new hidden code whereby these “junk” genes can function and talk to each other. This new scientific dimension is almost mind-boggling in its scope, as the number of genes that encode non-coding RNAs is approaching the 100,000 mark, vastly expanding the size of the functional genetic units present in our genome. These discoveries have already sparked the development of new drugs targeting specific non-coding RNAs to treat disease in patients including the Covid-19 Pandemic. Dr. Pandolfi has received more than 30 national and international awards for his achievements, among them the Weizmann Institute Lombroso Prize for Cancer Research, and the Pezcoller Foundation-AACR (American Association for Cancer Research) International Award for Cancer Research, dubbed as the Nobel Prize in cancer research, for his work in cancer genetics and in the field of APL. A citizen of both Italy and the United States, he was “Knighted” by the Republic of Italy, receiving the “Officer of the Order of the Star of Italy” by the President of the Italian Republic. Very recently he has been also named Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London.


Source: The Embassy of Italy in Washington, D.C.




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