Francesca Rapino is an assistant professor and group leader at the department of radiotherapy. She obtained a PhD in molecular pharmacy (2013) from the J. W. Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main (Germany) with Prof. Simone Fulda and then worked as a post-doc at the University of Liege (Belgium ) in Dr. Pierre Close’ lab. Her work focuses on the understanding of the molecular mechanisms regulating tumor growth and sensitivity/resistance to therapy with a particular interest in the regulation of protein homeostasis. Her recent work highlighted the role of specific tRNA modifying enzymes (U34-enzymes) in maintaining colon cancer stem cell capacity, metastasis, and resistance to BRAF inhibitors in cancer. In 2018 she published the first study causatively linking codon-specific translation to cancer resistance to target therapy, identified Hif1a as a direct translational target of the U34-enzymes whose synthesis and correct translation is needed to maintain BRAFV600E survival upon treatment (Rapino et al., Nature 2018). Francesca was granted several foundings and awards during her career, among others the King Baudouin Foundation award for biochemical research on cancer (2019), the Prix Frederic Van Den Brule (2018), the Prix Fondation Bonjean – Oleffe (2016). She was also personally supported by the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS) and by the Foundation against cancer.
Her current line of research will study the impact of the “passive actors” of translation, such as tRNA species (i.e. isoacceptors/isodecoders), ribosome pools and writers and erasers enzymes of these nucleic acids (i.e. U34-TM enzymes, ADATs, etc.), in the establishment of the proteomes required in the induction, the development and the adaptation to the stress of tumors.