IOR: Andrea Alimonti appointed as new Director

Prof. Andrea Alimonti has been appointed the new Director of the Institute of Oncology Research (IOR, a member of Bios+ and affiliated with USI) in Bellinzona. He will take over from Prof. Carlo Catapano, who is leaving the leadership of the IOR after 20 years due to reaching retirement age.

The IOR Foundation has selected Prof.  Andrea Alimonti  as the new Director of IOR starting from 1 January 2024. This decision was made based on the recommendation put forth by the Council of the Universitą della Svizzera italiana during their meeting on Thursday, 11 May. Prof. Alimonti will succeed Prof.  Carlo Catapano , who, after 20 years, will leave this role and retire while remaining head of the  Experimental Therapeutics Research Group.

Under Carlo Catapano’s leadership, IOR, founded in 2003, has grown steadily in both numbers and quality. Suffice it to say that in 2011 IOR had only three research groups. As of today, the Institute sees its Laboratories more than doubled. The IOR, with its 8 (9 in the near future) research groups, is now located at Via Chiesa in Bellinzona, together with the  Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB)  since November 2021.

IOR Laboratories are already facing some challenges in terms of space because of this remarkable growth, which will continue in the near future. For this reason, at the same meeting on 11 May, the IOR Foundation Board also finalised the draft for a call, probably in the fall, for the design of a new "twin" building, which again on Via Chiesa will be next to the one currently owned by IRB and also occupied by IOR.
This development will only strengthen the synergies and integration at all levels between IOR and IRB, which from July 2021, are founding members of the  Bellinzona Institutes of Science (Bios+) , whose goal is to promote and coordinate the research and teaching activities of the two institutes.

Over the past two decades, IOR has become a highly innovative oncology research centre both in Switzerland and globally. This is evident in the numerous significant discoveries published by its researchers in reputable international scientific journals.

"On behalf of the Foundation, but also of over one hundred researchers at IOR," declares Prof. Franco Cavalli , President of the IOR Foundation, "I would like to sincerely thank Carlo Catapano for the great commitment that, starting practically from scratch, has allowed him in just 20 years to place IOR on the global map of oncology research. An achievement that can only be described as extraordinary."Thinking about the future, Cavalli adds, "I am sure that Prof. Alimonti, thanks to his impressive network of international collaborations and his cutting-edge research projects, will be able to help achieve even more ambitious goals. Most importantly, as has already been the case with his pioneering research on prostate cancer, he will know how to direct the Institute’s research on topics that can lead to improved therapeutic outcomes in cancer patients."

Many challenges thus await the newly elected Andrea Alimonti , who says, "I am very honoured by this appointment, which arrives after more than 10 years of research here in Ticino. I am convinced that with my work and that of my colleagues, we will succeed in the coming years in leading IOR to new scientific milestones, to bring us closer and closer to an effective therapy against some forms of cancer."

Andrea Alimonti

Since 2011, Prof. Andrea Alimonti has directed the  Molecular Oncology Research Group  at IOR. He is a Full Professor of Oncology at USI, a Full Professor of Experimental Oncology at ETH Zurich, and a Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Padua. After receiving his medical degree from the University of Rome "La Sapienza" and completing his specialisation in Oncology at the National Cancer Institute in Rome, Andrea Alimonti worked as a Postdoc in New York and at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Prof. Alimonti has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the prestigious Steiner Award from the Steiner Foundation, the Wenner Prize from the Swiss Cancer League, as well as various international distinctions and awards, including those from the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the Benioff Initiative for Prostate Cancer Research, the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO Young Investigator) and important competitive funding from the European Research Council (ERC Starting and Consolidator Grants).

He has also received international distinctions and awards from organisations such as the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the Benioff Initiative for Prostate Cancer Research, and the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). With over 100 scientific publications in prestigious journals, Prof. Alimonti is renowned for his groundbreaking research on prostate cancer biology. His work has already led to promising new therapeutic approaches for this common malignant tumour in men. Prof. Alimonti has also identified a population of blood cells, so-called "suppressor myeloid cells," that are able to promote the development of prostate cancer and cause its resistance to today’s therapies. Alimonti has also discovered another mechanism of resistance to therapies for this tumour, which is connected with the gut microbiota. For years he has also been dissecting the mechanisms of cellular senescence with the goal of getting to the point of "ageing" cancer cells to neutralise their proliferative capabilities that underlie the cancer phenomenon.