Francesca M. Spagnoli

Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC)

Robert-Rössle-Str. 10

13125 Berlin, Germany

Phone: +49 30 9406 2553

FAX:    +49 30 9406 2110



Objectives & Background

Research interest – Pancreas organogenesis; Stem cell analysis to define lineage-specific differentiation towards endodermal tissues, including hepatic and pancreatic lineages; Lineage reprogramming between hepatic and pancreatic lineages; Morphogenesis.


Education & Professional experience.

Francesca M. Spagnoli earned a Medical Doctor degree from the Medical School "La Sapienza", University of Rome, Italy. She then did a Ph.D. in Genetics under the supervision of Dr. Mary C. Weiss at the Pasteur Institute, Paris, France. For her postdoc she joined the Brivanlou's lab at The Rockefeller University, New York, USA. During her postdoc she was awarded a JDRF long-term fellowship and an Emerald foundation grant. In 2008, she started her independent group at the Max-Delbrück-Center in Berlin, Germany, as a Helmholtz Junior Group Leader. In addition, she holds an Adjunct Faculty Member position at The Rockefeller University. In 2009, she was awarded an ERC Starting Grant to conduct studies on liver-to-pancreas lineage reprogramming and a Marie Curie Reintegration (IRG) grant.



Selected (2006-2011)

Francesca M. Spagnoli, D. Besser, S.A. Benitah (2011). Where do you come from; where do you go? Pluripotency, differentiation and malfunction of stem cells. EMBO Reports 13(1), 9-11.


Francesca M. Spagnoli, Rosa*, A, Ali H. Brivanlou (2009). Mesendodermal lineage specification in embryonic stem cells is under the control of a conserved microRNA family. Developmental Cell 16, 517-27. *co-first authors


Francesca M. Spagnoli and Ali H. Brivanlou (2008). The Gata5 target, TGIF2, defines the pancreatic region by modulating BMP signals within the endoderm, Development, 135, 451-461.


Francesca M. Spagnoli (2007). From endoderm to pancreas: a multistep journey. The CMLS Journal 64, 2378-2390.


Francesca M. Spagnoli and Ali H. Brivanlou (2006). The RNA Binding Protein, Vg1RBP, is Required for Pancreatic Fate Specification, Developmental Biology, 292, 442-456.


Francesca M. Spagnoli and Ali H. Brivanlou (2006). Guiding embryonic stem cells towards differentiation: lessons from molecular embryology, Current Opinion Gen. Developm., 16, 469-475.



  • Supervision of 6 PhD students (2004 – present) and 2 Master students (2008 - present)
  • Lectures at the: Helmholtz TransCard Research School; Helmholtz Graduate School Molecular Cell Biology; "Cell Signaling" lecture series at the DFG Graduiertenkolleg 1772 Computational Systems Biology; and DFG Molecular Endocrinology Graduate Program of the Charité-Universitätsmedizin



Honors & Awards

- ERC Starting Grant 5 years grant (2009-2014)

- Marie Curie IRG 4 years grant (2009-2013)

- Adjunct Faculty Member position at The Rockefeller University, since 2008

- Emerald Foundation Award, 2006-2008

- Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Long-Term postdoctoral fellowship, 2003-2005

- Ph.D. Degree with honors (Mention très honorable avec félicitations du Jury), 2001

- M.D. Degree with honors (Summa cum laude), 1996


Membership Society/Organization

- COST Action Group on "HOX and TALE transcription factors in Development and Disease", since 2011

- Academia Net - Robert Bosch-Stiftung, since 2011

- Member of the New York Academy of Science, since 2002

- Member of the Society for Developmental Biology, since 2003