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#TalentiUniSR: Silvia Ottaviani

09 July 2018

Among the #TalentiUniSR of this month we tell the story of Silvia Ottaviani. She graduated from the Biotechnology Degree Course from the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, at 23 she flew to the Imperial College (London) where she obtained a Master’s Degree in Molecular Medicine and, in 2012, a PhD in Cancer Biology. Not only a scientist, Silvia is also a musician, graduated in Piano at the prestigious Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro. “I decided to fight cancer” she says “because it is the disease that left a mark in my family. Since high school, I have decided that I would study this disease and make my contribution to cancer research“. Today she is a researcher, the first author of a research recently published in Nature Communications, which has marked progress in understanding the mechanisms of pancreatic cancer.


Silvia Ottaviani

Your University Studies

I graduated in 2007 in the three-year course of Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University. In 2008 I obtained a Master’s degree (MSc) in Molecular Medicine and in 2012 a PhD in Cancer Biology both from the Imperial College, London

Why you enrolled at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University

I enrolled at San Raffaele for two main factors. First of all, the San Raffaele is a prestigious, internationally recognized research center. Secondly, I was impressed by the Anglo-Saxon teaching model, represented by a limited number of students, modern and avant-garde laboratories and study on English texts. Since I wanted to take the course in Biotechnology, these factors were fundamental to determine my choice

What opportunities our University has given you

This University gave me excellent preparation and it was fundamental for the continuation of my scientific career. The knowledge and extensive laboratory experience gained during the degree course allowed me to excel during the master’s degree and then doctorate at Imperial College

What you currently deal with

Currently, I am a postdoc in the Division of Cancer of the Imperial College, London. I deal with the study of non-coding RNAs and their role in cancer progression, in particular pancreatic cancer. The results of my first postdoc project were recently published in the journal Nature Communications. In this study we focused on the study of microRNAs (short non-coding RNAs) and we identified two important molecules that contribute to both tumorigenesis and pancreatic cancer metastasis. I have also contributed to numerous publications concerning microRNAs in cancer and I am author of two reviews on this subject. In addition to intensive research I also deal with teaching. I have just obtained the position of deputy module leader of the cellular and molecular biology module for the university students of the Medical Biosciences course at Imperial College

The strong point of studying at San Raffaele

The strong point of studying in San Raffaele is the impeccable preparation it offers. The professors are world-renown researchers or clinicians with important international research experiences. The limited number of students allows having a personal relationship with the teachers and this allows you to feel integral and participatory part of the university. The degree course is built on these bases, preparing tomorrow’s researchers to excel both in Italy and abroad

Your best quality


Favorite quote

“Where there is a will there is a way”

Your dream in the drawer

My dream is to become head of my own research group and to contribute important findings in the advancement of cancer research. I would like to achieve this within an excellent university so that I can integrate research into university teaching that I believe is of great value and importance

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