Sitia Roberto Professore ordinarioMedicineBIO/11




Brief narrative

Professor Sitia graduated in Medicine and obtained a Specialization in Hematology at the University of Genoa (IT). He worked at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York (USA), National Cancer Institute in Genoa and at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge (UK). He joined San Raffaele Hospital in 1990 and played an important role in launching the Department of Biology and Technology (DiBiT,1992) and Vita-Salute San Raffaele University (UniSR, 1996-98) that are now considered the best in Italy. He chaired the Medical School (2005-2008) and the Division of Genetics and Cell Biology (2008-2014).

A member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) since 1992, he worked hard for the development of basic science in Europe, cofounding the European Network of Immunology Institutes (ENII) and European Life Sciences Organization (ELSO) and chairing the EMBO Science and Society Committee Prof. Sitia held courses in the Universities of Naples (IT), Tokyo (JP) and South Wales (AU) and at the Institut Curie (FR) and gave conferences and seminars in all five continents. Many investigators who trained in his laboratory occupy leading positions all over the world. Over 170 papers of his appeared in the most important journals (Nature, Science, Cell, EMBO Journal) receiving more than 10,000 citations, making him an international leader in the fields of antibody biogenesis and protein secretion. His recent studies on protein quality control and redox homeostasis/signaling are receiving wide attention. Presently, he teaches Molecular Biology at UniSR and leads the Laboratory of Protein Transport and Secretion.



1971 Baccalaureate, Literature and classics, Genoa, Italy

1977 M.D. Degree University of Genoa, Italy

1980 Hematology University of Genoa, Italy

Positions and Honors


2008-2014       Director, Division of Genetics and Cell Biology, Ospedale San Raffaele

2008                Visiting professor, Institut Curie, Paris (FR)

2006                Visiting professor, Tokyo University (Japan)

2005-2007       President of the School of Medicine, Università Vita Salute San Raffaele. Milan

2000-today Professor of Molecular Biology, Università Vita Salute San Raffaele. Milan

1999                Visiting professor, New South Wales University (Australia)

1998-2007       Deputy Director, Dept. Functional Genomics & Molecular Biology, Ospedale San Raffaele

1990-today Group leader, Ospedale San Raffaele, Milan, IT

1987-1990       Associate Professor, Immunogenetics, National Cancer Center, Genoa

1986-1987       Visiting Investigator, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK

1982-1986       Assistant Professor, Molecular Biology, National Cancer Center, Genoa,

1980-1982       Assistant Professor, Immunology and Transplantation, University of Genoa, IT

1978-1979       PostDoc, Immunochemistry, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York USA

 Honors & Professional Societies

Elected Member of European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), 1992

Founder and Steering Committee (1991-8), European Network of Immunology Institute,

Founder and Steering Committee (1998-2006) of European Life Science Organisation (ELSO)

Italian Immunology Cooperation Group (GCI). Member and Steering Committee

Italian Association Cell & Developmental Biology (ABCD) Member and Steering Committee

American Society of Cell Biology (ASCB) Member

American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Member


 Editorial, evaluation and outreaching activities

Editor, The EMBO Journal (1998-2021); Antioxidant Redox Signaling (2010-present); Scientific reports (2014-present); EMBO Reports (1998-2010); J.Biol. Chem (2001-2006); PathoGenetics (2008-2011); KOS a magazine merging science, medicine and culture (1998-2008) and Enciclopedia Italiana Treccani (1994-8)


Referee for most Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology journals, including Nature, Science, Cell, Immunity.

Member of many evaluation committees, including European Commission; ERC; Academy of Finland; MRC and Welcome Trust (UK); Austrian Research Minister, FWF; Israeli Science Foundation; Spanish Minister of Science and Education; NIH (US); Swiss Science Foundation (CH); ANR (FR); Italian Ministries of Health and University-Research; CNR, Telethon (IT)

Member (2002-2004) and Chair (2004-2007) of the EMBO Science and Society Committee

Founder (2004) and Organizer of Bergamo Scienza (a science festival that in 2017 totalled >160,000 visitors)

 Organisation of congresses, courses and meetings

- Chair of the ENII-ESF Conference: Physiology of Antigen Presentation, 1991 Como (IT)

- Co-Chair, ENII Conference, 1991 Les Embiez (FR)

- Chair: ENII Conference, 1992 Les Embiez (FR)

- Chair of the Italian Cell and Molecular Biology Meeting, 1993 Milano (IT)

- Co-Chair of the ELSO meeting, 2000 Geneva (CH)

- Co-Chair of the ELSO meeting, 2002 Nice (FR)

- Chair of the ELSO Meeting, 2007 Dresden (D)

- Co-Chair of the II Gordon Conf., Thiol-based Redox Regulation and Signalling, 2008 Lucca  (IT)

- Chair of the III Gordon Conference, Thiol-based Redox Regulation and Signalling, 2010 Lucca (IT)

- Co-Chair of the ETH Conference Quality Control: Folding and Degradation of Proteins in the ER, 2011

- Co-Chair, ER & Redox Club Meeting, 2015 Venice (IT)

- Co-Chair, EMBO conference Thiol-based redox switches in life science Sant Feliu de Guixols 2018 (SP)

- Chair EMBO conference Thiol-based redox switches in life science 2019


Select publications

Sitia R, Rubartelli A. 2020 Evolution, role in inflammation, and redox control of leaderless secretory proteins. J Biol Chem. 295:7799-7811

Bestetti S, Galli M, Sorrentino I, Pinton P, Rimessi A, Sitia R, Medraño-Fernandez I§. 2020 Human aquaporin-11 guarantees efficient transport of H2O2 across the endoplasmic reticulum membrane. Redox Biol. 2020 Jan; 28:101326. § joint last authors

Sicari D, Chatzijoannou A, Koutsandreas T, Sitia R, Chevet E. 2020 Role of the early secretory pathway in SARS-CoV-2 infection. J Cell Biol. 219(9) § joint last authors

Vitale M, Bakunts A, Orsi A, Lari F, Tadè L, Danieli A, Rato C, Valetti C, Sitia R, Raimondi A, Christianson JC, van Anken E. 2019 Inadequate BiP availability defines endoplasmic reticulum stress. E-life. Mar 14;8. pii: e41168.

Watanabe S, Amagai Y, Sannino S, Tempio T, Anelli T, Harayama M, Masui S, Sorrentino I, Yamada M, Sitia R§, Inaba K§. 2019 Nature Comm. 10:603. § joint last authors

Semino C, Carta S, Gattorno M, Sitia R§, Rubartelli A§. 2018 Progressive waves of IL-1β release by primary human monocytes via sequential activation of vesicular and gasdermin D-mediated secretory pathways. Cell Death Dis. 9:1088. § joint last authors

Bestetti S. Medraño-Fernandez I, Galli M, Ghitti M, Bienert GP, Musco G, Orsi A, Rubartelli A and Sitia R, 2018 A persulfidation-based mechanism controls aquaporin-8 conductance Science Adv. 4:eaar5770

Bakunts A, Orsi A, Vitale M, Cattaneo A, Lari F, Tadè L, Sitia R, Raimondi A, Bachi A, van Anken E. 2017 Ratiometric sensing of BiP-client versus BiP levels by the unfolded protein response determines its signaling amplitude. E-life e27518. doi: 10.7554/eLife.27518

Pasalic D, Weber B, Giannone C, Anelli T, Müller R, Fagioli C, Felkl M, John C, Mossuto MF, Becker CFW, Sitia R§, Buchner J§. 2017 Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114:E8575-E8584 § joint last authors

Pengo N, Scolari M, Oliva L, Milan E, Mainoldi F, Raimondi A, Fagioli C, Merlini A, Mariani E, Pasqualetto E,

  Orfanelli U, Ponzoni M, Sitia R, Casola S, Cenci S. 2013 Plasma cells require autophagy for sustainable   immunoglobulin production. Nature Immunol.14:298

Vavassori S, Cortini M. Masui S, Sannino S. Anelli T. Caserta I, Fagioli C, Mossuto MF, Fornili A. van Anken E, Degano M, Inaba K and Sitia R. 2013 A pH-regulated quality control cycle for surveillance of secretory protein assembly.  Molecular Cell 50:783-92.

Anelli T, Ceppi S, Bergamelli L, Cortini M, Masciarelli S, Valetti C and Sitia R. 2007 Sequential steps and checkpoints in the early exocytic compartment during secretory IgM biogenesis. EMBO J. 26, 4177-88

Cenci S, Mezghrani A, Cascio P, Bianchi G, Cerruti F, Fra AM, Lelouard H, Masciarelli S, Mattioli L, Oliva L, Orsi A, Pasqualetto E, Pierre P, Ruffato E, Tagliavacca L and Sitia R. 2006 Progressively impaired proteasomal capacity during terminal plasma cell differentiation. EMBO J, 25, 1104-1113.

Sitia R, Braakman I. 2003 Quality control in the endoplasmic reticulum protein factory. Nature 426:891-4.

Anelli T, Alessio M, Bachi A, Bergamelli L, Bertoli G, Camerini S, Mezghrani A, Ruffato E, Simmen T, Sitia R. 2003 Thiol-mediated protein retention in the endoplasmic reticulum: the role of ERp44. EMBO J. 22,5015-22

VanAnken E, Romijn EP, Maggioni C, Mezghrani A, Sitia R§, Braakman I§, and Heck AJR§ 2003 Sequential waves of functionally related proteins are expressed when B cells prepare for antibody secretion. Immunity 18, 243-53. § joint last authors

Rubartelli A, Cozzolino F, Talio M, Sitia R. 1990. A novel secretory pathway for interleukin-1 beta, a protein lacking a signal sequence. EMBO J. 9:1503-10.

Sitia R, Neuberger MS, Alberini C, Bet P, Fra AM, Valetti C, Williams G and Milstein C. 1990. Developmental regulation of IgM secretion: the role of the carboxy-terminal cysteine. Cell 60, 781-790.

Sitia R, Neuberger MS, and Milstein C. 1987. Regulation of membrane IgM expression in secretory B cells. EMBO J 6, 3969-77.  

Sitia R. Corte G, Ferrarini M and Bargellesi A. 1977 Lymphocyte membrane immunoglobulins: similarities between human IgD and mouse IgD-like molecules Eur. J. Immunol. 7:503-7.

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