Elisa Giovannetti

People, Researcher



“If cancer is the emperor of all maladies, then pancreatic cancer is the ruthless dictator of all cancers” (JAMA. 2016;315:1837-1838). Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is indeed the only common malignancy for which deaths are predicted to increase rather than decrease, becoming the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related deaths around 2020. Treatment efficacy has minimally improved over the past years, and this tumor represents a grim scientific and societal problem. The dramatic clinical course of PDAC has multiple causes: no sensitive methods for screening/early detection are available, and it has become apparent that this tumor metastasizes microscopically early in the disease course. Moreover, very few patients experience an objective response, underlining an innate chemoresistant nature.

Dr. Elisa Giovannetti and her team aim at tackling this challenge, bringing together knowledge and technologies across basic and clinical expertise. To this goal the research of this group includes the use of cutting-edge technology platforms for genomics/transcriptomics as well as appropriate clinical specimens and preclinical models in order to (1) establish more accurate and earlier diagnostic tools, and (2) to identify key mechanisms underlying PDAC metastasis and chemoresistance, which can be exploited in the clinical setting.

Dr. Elisa Giovannetti obtained her M.D. and Ph.D. at the University of Pisa, Italy, where she also worked as a clinical fellow in Pharmacology, with a special focus on translational studies on gene expression/polymorphisms and anticancer drug response in pancreatic and lung cancer. Since 2006 she collaborated with the Department of Medical Oncology at VU University Medical Center (VUmc), Amsterdam, The Netherlands, to set-up a line of research on molecular mechanisms underlying chemoresistance and new biomarkers. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2016. She successfully requested funding from several national and international organizations, including “Marie Curie” and FP7 European Initiatives, Italian Association for Research against Cancer (AIRC, Start-Up grant), Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO, VENI grant), Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) and American Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.
She is actively involved, as Secretary of the Steering Committee, in research projects within the “Pharmacology and Molecular Mechanism Group” (PAMM) group of the European Organization for research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), as well as in studies of the European Pancreatic Club (EPC) and Italian Association for the Study of the Pancreas (AISP).