Brancato Virginia, PhD


Virginia Brancato, PhD, got her Ph.D. in Enviromental Microbiology and cutaneous ecosystem from the “Luigi Vanvitelli” University of Naples, Italy, in 2010. In 2011, she joined the Virology Division of National Institute of Medical Research (London, UK) under the supervision of Alan Hay, world leader in virology. In 2012, she got a fellowship as postdoctoral researcher at the University of Naples, under the scope of the project entitled: NEWTON Advanced nano system for a new molecular oncology. Here, she developed heterotypic 3D tumor models (breast and pancreas) that can be exploited as drug screening platform. In 2017, Virginia Brancato joined 3Bs research group at the University of Minho, Portugal, as Assistant Researcher, supported by the H2020 ERA-Chair project FoReCaST (nº 668983). Her research activity is focused on development of in vitro 3D tumor model for drug testing. During her scientific career, she also supervised PhD candidates and masters students. In 2018, she got a grant funded by the Portuguese Government, as principal investigator to study the interaction among macrophages and tumor microenvironment. In January 2021, she joined the Genomic Science Center of the Italian Institute of Technology in Milan as Marie Curie Research Fellow, where she is interested in the role of the non-coding RNA in the breast cancer microenvironment. In 2022 she became principal investigator of a project funded by the Roche Foundation for Independent Research to investigate the transcriptome in breast cancer microenvironment by mean of organoids. Since November 2022 she is fixed term researcher in Biochemistry at the University Milano Bicocca.  She is member of the Italian Society of Biochemistry (SIB), European Association for Cancer Research (EACR), and Association of Italian researcher Abroad (AIRIcerca).


3D tumor models, tumor microenvironment, Cancer metabolism, tumor heterogeneity, organoids

The activity is focused on the following research lines

Health research area BtBs UNIMIB

Cancer, Drug Discovery and Pharmacology, Systems biology

Research interest

-    Investigate the tumor heterogeneity in breast cancer as cause of cancer plasticity by using organoids
-    Investigating the role of microenvironment in metabolic reprogramming in cancer

Research projects

1)    Grant Fondazione Roche per la Ricerca: MIMETIC (MIcroenvironMent hETerogeneItyCancer): Unravelling tumor heterogeneity in genetic and spatial organization of cancertissue for improving cancer therapy response. December 2022- December 2023 Principal investigator
2)    MSCA Individual Fellowship. CONTACT Cancer biOengineered Novel microTissues unrAveling Cancer plasTicity Grant from January 2021 to January 2023, Research fellow
3)    Adding another brick in the wall: immune system integration in a 3D bioengineered microtumor to investigate immune-competence mechanism in tumor microenvironment. Fundaçao para a Ciencia e Tecnologia. Grant from 2018 to 2021 / Principal investigator
4)    Modelling cancer Metastasis into the humAn microcirculation system using a mulTi-organon-a-CHip approach. Fundaçao para a Ciencia e Tecnologia. Grant from 2018 to 2021/Team Member
5)     Forefront Research in 3D Disease Cancer Models as in vitro Screening Technologies. Grant from 2015 to 2020 / Team Member as Assistant researcher in nanotechnologies

Select articles

1)    Lara Pierantoni; Virginia Brancato; João B. Costa; Subhas C. Kundu; Rui L.Reis; Joana Silva-Correia; Joaquim M. Oliveira. Synergistic Effect of Co-Culturing Breast Cancer Cells and Fibroblasts in the Formation of Tumoroid Clusters and Desig of In Vitro 3D Models for the Testing of Anticancer Agents. Advanced Biology 2023 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.202200141
2)    Ilenia Iaia; Virginia Brancato; David Caballero; Rui L. Reis; Massimo Aglietta; Dario Sangiolo; Subhas C. Kundu. Fibroblasts Impair Migration and Antitumor Activity of NK-92 Lymphocytes in a Melanoma-on-Chip Model. Bioengineering 2023, 10(1),52;
3)    Brancato V, Comunanza V, Imparato G., Corà D, Urciuolo F, Noghero A, Bussolino F, Netti PA. Bioengineered tumoral microtissues recapitulate desmoplastic reaction of pancreatic cancer. Acta Biomater 2017 doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2016.11.072
4)    Gioiella F, Urciuolo F, Imparato G, Brancato V, Netti PA. An engineered breast cancer model on a chip to replicate ECM-activation in vitro during tumor progression. Adv.Healthcare Mater. 2016 doi:10.1002/adhm.201600772


International and national collaboration

Francesco Nicassio – Center for Genomic Science- Istituto Italiano di tecnologia (Milan, Italy)

Brancato's Lab – #BrancatoLab_BtBs
last update May 2023