Nicola Aceto, Ph.D.

Nicola is a Swiss National Science Foundation Assistant Professor of Oncology and the Group Leader of the Cancer Metastasis lab at the University of Basel, Switzerland. Recent discoveries of the Aceto lab include important insights into the biology and vulnerabilities of circulating tumor cell clusters (Gkountela et al., Cell, 2019, cover of the journal; Szczerba et al., Nature, 2019). Previously, Nicola worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Haber lab at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston, MA, USA, where he identified circulating tumor cell clusters as metastatic precursors (see Aceto et al., Cell, 2014, Sarioglu and Aceto et al., Nature Methods 2015, Aceto et al., Trends in Cancer, 2015). He has also been an active member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, MA, USA, and a visiting scientist in the Clevers lab at the Hubrecht institute, the Netherlands. Nicola received a PhD summa cum laude from the Friedrich Miescher Institute (FMI) in Basel, Switzerland with a thesis on protein tyrosine phosphatases and their role in breast cancer (see Aceto et al., Nature Medicine, 2012; Sun, Aceto et al., Cell, 2011). Nicola is an inventor on 10 patent applications related to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Upon starting the Cancer Metastasis lab, Nicola has been awarded a Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship, an ERC-Starting Grant, an honorable mention from AAAS/Science Translational Medicine as well as grants from the Swiss Cancer League, the ETH Zurich Personalized Medicine Initiative, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the European Union through the F.E.T-Open scheme, the Basel Cancer League and the University of Basel. For his previous work, Nicola has been awarded postdoctoral fellowships from the Swiss National Science Foundation, EMBO, the American-Italian Cancer foundation, and the Human Frontiers Science Program. He also received an Ed Fischer Outstanding Thesis Award, a Bruno Speck Award from the Basel Stem Cell Network, and an abstract award from Harvard/MGH Cancer Center.

Nicola has been an invited speaker in a number of congresses, academic and industrial organizations, including the ETH Zurich, the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research in Lausanne, the Annual CTC and Liquid Biopsy Meeting in San Francisco, the European Society for Medical Oncology, the Swiss Re Forum on Cancer Diagnostics, the University of California Berkeley, Google[x] Life sciences, the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research, the World Circulating Tumor Cells Summit and the Gordon Conference in Mammary Gland Biology.



Ilona Krol, M.Sc.

Ilona is the Lab Manager of the Cancer Metastasis lab. Prior to joining the lab, Ilona has been a technician in the Heim lab at the University of Basel, Switzerland studying the signaling networks involved in hepatitis C and hepatitis B virus infection (see Terczyจฝska-Dyla et al., Nature Commun., 2014, Duong et al., J. Exp. Med., 2014). Previously, Ilona has been a member of the Filipowicz lab at the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel, Switzerland where she worked on the role of micro RNAs in retina development and function (see Krol J. et al. Nature Commun., 2015, Krol J. et al., Cell, 2010, Sarasin-Filipowicz et al., Nature Medicine, 2009). Ilona received a M.Sc. degree from the University N. Copernicus in Poland.



Francesc Castro Giner, Ph.D.

Francesc is a Senior Postdoctoral researcher in the Cancer Metastasis lab. Previously, he worked as a bioinformatics scientist at the Functional Genomics Centre of University of Zurich, Switzerland, and as a Postdoctoral researcher in cancer genomics at the Molecular and Population Genetics Laboratory of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, UK (see Findlay et al. Nature Communications, 2016, Castro-Giner et al. Nature Review Cancer, 2015, Davis et al. Nature Medicine, 2015). He has also been member of the National Centre for Genomic Analysis based on Barcelona, Spain (see Alioto et al. Nature Communications, 2015, Balbás-Martínez, Nature Genetics, 2013). Francesc earned his PhD from the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, with a thesis focused on gene and environment interactions in complex disease.


Massimo Saini, PhD

Prior to joining the Cancer Metastasis Lab, I have been Ph.D student and post-doc in the laboratories of Andreas Trumpp (DKFZ, Heidelberg) and Christina Scheel (HMGU, Munich) where I have worked to elucidate the importance of the Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) in primary CTCs as well as in clinical samples of metastatic cancers (e.g. see Lorentzen et al., Nature comm, 2018; Magnani et al., Nature Genetics 2017; Baccelli et al., Nature Biotech 2013).  Previously I have worked as pre-doctoral fellow and master student in the lab of Luigi Naldini (Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy, Milan). I have received my education in medical biotechnology from the San Raffaele University of Milan (M. Sc) and from the University of Brescia (B. Sc) in Italy.


Zoi Diamantopoulou, Ph.D.

My research interests primarily include Cancer Cell Biology and Molecular Oncology, in particular how different signal transduction pathways regulate tumor progression.  Previously, I was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Cell Signaling Group of CRUK-Manchester Institute, UK, where I studied how Rac1 signaling regulates YAP/TAZ activity during colorectal cancer progression (Diamantopoulou et al., Cancer Cell, 2017; Whalley et al., Nature Communications, 2015; Woroniuk et al., Nature Communications, 2018). I was also a post-doctoral researcher in the CRRET, CNRS, University of Paris-Est, Paris/Immupharma PLC, FRANCE, where I investigated the mechanism of action of new anticancer multivalent pseudopeptides that were in phase I/IIa clinical trials (Diamantopoulou et al., Oncotarget, 2017). I earned my PhD from the University of Patras, Greece, where I studied how phosphatases regulate prostate cancer progression (Diamantopoulou et al., JBC, 2012; Diamantopoulou et al., Molecular Cancer, 2010; Bermek et al., Exp Cell Res, 2007).



Fabienne Schwab, M.D.

Fabienne is a clinical fellow in the Cancer Metastasis lab. Before joining the lab, she has been working as a consultant (Kaderärztin) in the Breast Center of the women’s hospital at the University Hospital Basel. She studied medicine in Fribourg and Bern, got her medical degree in 2002 and received the Doctor of Medicine title in 2004. She got her specialization in Gynecology/Obstetrics including a sub-specialization in surgical Gynecology/Obstetrics in 2011, followed by Diploma of Senology at the Academy of European Senology, Düsseldorf, Germany, in 2014. Her field of specialization is breast cancer medicine: this includes diagnostics in breast pathology (breast ultrasound and biopsy) (see Schwab FD et al., Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprol Biol., 2010, Schwab FD et al., Fam Cancer, 2014,  Schwab F et al., Ultrasound Med. Biol., 2016) surgical treatment (see Weber WP et al., Breast. 2017, Weber WP et al., Breast cancer Res Treat., 2017) and systemic therapy of breast cancer (see Schwab F et al., info@onkologie, 2016). She also represents the Coordinator in the Breast Center at the University Hospital Basel for the Swiss Breast Center Certification (Q-Label) and the German Breast Center Certification (DKG).



Cinzia Donato, M.Sc.

Cinzia is a Ph.D. student in the Cancer Metastasis lab. Prior to joining the lab, Cinzia received a M.Sc. degree at the Cancer, Stem Cells and Developmental Biology program of Utrecht University where she mainly worked at the Hubrecht Institute, the Netherlands. There, in van Rheenen's lab, she adopted multiphoton imaging techniques and three-dimensional organoid cultures to study mechanisms of cancer cells migration. Previously, Cinzia received a B.Sc. degree in Biotechnology at University of Palermo, Italy.


Manuel Scheidmann M.Sc.

Manuel is a Ph.D. student in the Cancer Metastasis lab. Before joining the lab, he has been working at the Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research in Basel, Switzerland on CRISPR-mediated genome-wide phenotypic screens for the elucidation of drug-protein interactions. Manuel holds a M.Sc. degree in synthetic biology from the École Supérieure de Biotechnologie de Strasbourg, France and a second M.Sc. degree in biotechnology from the University of Strasbourg, France. Previously, Manuel has been working on light-inducible transcription regulation in human cells in the Weber lab at the BIOSS Center for Biological Signalling Studies, University of Freiburg, Germany (see Agne et al., ACS Synth. Biol., 2014). Before that, he received a B.Sc. degree in molecular biology from the University of Freiburg, Germany.



Aino Alise Paasinen Sohns, M.Sc.

Aino is a technician in the Cancer Metastasis Lab. She graduated from the University of Helsinki, majoring in molecular genetics, cell biology and biochemistry. Her research interests (group of MD, PhD Erkki Hölttä at Haartman Institute) have been on the control mechanisms of cell transformation and especially signal transduction pathways in transformed cells (see Auvinen et al., Nature 1992; Auvinen et al., Mol. Cell. Biol. 1995; Paasinen and Hölttä Oncogene 1997, Paasinen et al., J. Cell Biol. 2000, Paasinen et al., Int. J. Biochem. Cell Biol. 2011). She spent an undergraduate year at FMI in Basel (Dr. Kurt Ballmer) studying the cellular transformation (see Perez et al., PNAS 1993 and Perez et al., Virology 1993). Before joining the lab she was in the field of applied biomedical research (Cantonal Hospital of Basel-Land, Prof. Dr. Gieri Cathomas), where she gained experience in the field of personalized medicine (see Paasinen et al., Neoplasia 2017, Centeno & Paasinen et al., Virchows Archiv 2017).


Karin Strittmatter

Karin is a technician in the Cancer Metastasis Lab. Before joining the group, she was working with Dr. Marneros at the Cutaneous Biology Research Center at MGH and Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, USA focusing on molecular events and therapies in the context of age-related macular degeneration and neovascularization (Strittmatter, Pomeroy & Marneros, American Journal of Pathology, 2016). Prior to that, she was a member of the Signal Transduction and Growth Control group at the DKFZ in Heidelberg, where she was working with multiple animal and cell-based models of tumor growth and angiogenesis (Braun et al., International Journal of Cancer, 2014). Karin was a lab manager in the group of Gerhard Christofori at the University of Basel investigating the roles of growth factor receptors and adhesion molecules during angiogenesis (Albrecht et al., PLOS ONE 2011; Schomber et al., Mol. Cancer Therapeutics, 2009; Crnic et al., Cancer Research, 2004). She was trained as a Pharmabiology Technician at the Novartis Training Center, Muttenz.



Edward Richards, B.Sc.

Edward was an intern in the Cancer Metastasis lab (2016). His major achievements in the lab included the establishment of a new computational tool for gene expression-based survival analysis of patients. Next position after leaving the lab: Masters student in Bioinformatics, University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK.


Sofia Gkountela, Ph.D.

Sofia was a postdoctoral fellow in the Cancer Metastasis Lab (2015-2018). Her major achievements in the lab include 7 peer-reviewed publications (e.g. see Gkountela et al., Cell, 2019) and 2 patent applications. During her postdoc, Sofia has been awarded a DBM Research Prize from the University of Basel. Next position after leaving the lab: Lab Head at the Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland.

Ramona Scherrer, M.Sc.

Ramona was a lab technician in the Cancer Metastasis Lab (2016-2018). Her major achievements in the lab include 4 peer-reviewed publications. Next position after leaving the lab: MSc student at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland

Till Ryser, B.Sc.

Till was a Masters student in the Cancer Metastasis Lab (2018). His major achievements in the lab include the development of a novel prototype microchip for CTC isolation. Next position after leaving the lab: PhD student at EPFL, Lausanne.

Barbara Maria Szczerba, M.Sc.

Barbara was a PhD student in the Cancer Metastasis Lab (2015-2019). Her major achievements in the lab include several high-rank publication (e.g. see Szczerba et al., Nature 2019) and 2 patents. During her PhD, Barbara has also been awarded a Bruno Speck Award from the Basel Stem Cell Network, a Charles Rodolphe Brupbacher Young Investigator Award, and a Nancy Hynes Award at the Basel Breast Consortium. Next position after leaving the lab: clinical scientist at ARTIDIS, Basel, Switzerland.