Functional Cancer Genomics

Group Leader

Theurillat Jean-Philippe, MD


Bernasocchi Tiziano, PhD
Bolis Marco, PhD, Bioinformatics
Bossi Daniela, PhD
Ceserani Valentina, MSc, Technician
Costanzo Federico, PhD, Research Scientist
El Tekle Geniver, PhD
Formaggio Nicolò, PhD Student
Isenschmid Manuela, MSc, Technician
Theurillat Jean-Philippe, MD, Group Leader
Vallerga Arianna, PhD student


Cancer is driven by cardinal genetic alterations that activate driver genes. Driver mutations are not only essential to initiate tumorigenesis, but are also required for tumor growth and maintenance. This raises the possibility to target these mutations, opening more specific, therapeutic opportunities to treat cancer patients.

Our research group focuses on new drivers of prostate cancer with emphasis on advanced, castration-resistant disease. We aim to explore the roles of these genes in tumorigenesis with the ultimate goal to develop new therapeutic avenues for patients suffering from prostate cancer (exemplified in Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. TRIM24 is a druggable co-activator of the androgen receptor (AR) and a driver of castration-resistant prostate cancer (see also PMID: 27238081).

In addition, our group develops new strategies to empirically tailor cancer therapy in the clinic. Patient-derived tumor cells will be used to test drug responses prior treating the patient. This approach may guide decision-making in the clinic in an individualized manner (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2. Patient-derived cancer and normal cell lines may allow empirical testing of drug responses in culture prior treating the patient.

Current projects

  • Functional characterization of new prostate cancer drivers implicated in chromatin remodeling and protein ubiquitylation
  • Engineering of small molecules against prostate cancer targets
  • Generation and engineering of patient-derived cell line models

Our group is committed to train the future generation of cancer researcher. Master thesis applications are welcome at any time and we will support you with scholarships.

In press

  • Janouskova H, El Tekle G, Bellini E, Udeshi ND, Rinaldi A, Ulbricht A, Bernasocchi T, Civenni G, Losa M, Svinkina T, Bielski CM, Kryukov GV, Cascione L, Napoli S, Enchev RI, Mutch DG, Carney ME, Berchuck A, Winterhoff BJN, Broaddus RR, Schraml P, Moch H, Bertoni F, Catapano CV, Peter M, Carr SA, Garraway LA, Wild PJ, Theurillat JP. Opposing effects of cancer type-specific SPOP mutations on BET protein degradation and sensitivity to BET inhibitors. Accepted for publication Nat Med Jun 2017.