IFOM Simona Polo

Simona Polo

Simona Polo, a molecular and cell biologist expert directs the Ubiquitin and Signal Transduction research program at IFOM since 2005.

Born in Milan in 1968, Polo studied Biological Sciences at the University of Milan, under the supervision of Prof Daniela Ghisotti, graduating cum laude in 1991 and honorable mention. Her thesis on bacteriophage P4 received the price for the best thesis in genetics for 1991 from the AGI association.

Thanks to a collaboration with LePetit Research Center, she then moved to Streptomyces biology working with Prof. Gianni Deho' at the University of Milan.
From 1996 to 1999 she conducted postdoctoral research at San Raffaele scientific Institute under the guidance of Prof. Paolo Lusso who discovered the chemokine receptor CCR5, responsible for the HIV entry.

In that period, she made important contributions studying the molecular determinants of the receptor-binding and HIV-inhibitory functions of chemokines that act as natural antagonists of HIV. In 1999 she joined the group of Prof. Pier Paolo Di Fiore at the European Institute of Oncology (IEO) Milan as staff scientist, acquiring a strong expertise in the field of endocytosis. At that time she discovered and defined the role of ubiquitin in the internalization of the epidermal growth factor receptor, EGFR.

In 2005, she left the IEO, accepting the opportunity to develop her own line of research at IFOM studying ubiquitin as a signaling device with a particular focus on cancer biology.

Work of her lab in the last ten years has led to significant breakthroughs in the ubiquitin system. She was among the first to hypothesize and then provide evidence that ubiquitin is a signaling device, using the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway as a model system. To name but a few her first paper published in the field (Polo et al., Nature 2002) and the first one signed as last author (Sigismund et al PNAS 2005) received more than 400 citations/each.

In recognition of her studies she received the prestigious EMBO Young Investigator award in 2009.

In 2016 she was appointed a member of the EMBO, the prestigious European Organization for Molecular Biology.

Simona Polo is Researcher at the Department of Oncology and Hemato-oncology, University of Milan

IFOM Review

Deubiquitination enzymes in the limelight
Commentary on Simona Polo's paper published on Current Biology, by Yossi Yarden (2015)
Ubiquitin and SUMO: an hands-on experience... by the sea
Personal memories for a memorable EMBO Practical Course organized by Simona Polo, by Ronald T. Hay (2013)
Illuminating a ubiquitin transfer relay, step-by-step
Commentary on Simona Polo's paper published on Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, by Brenda A. Schulman (2013)
complete review


Press releases


In the press

Il fermo immagine della proteina multitasking
Ansa Scienza

2013.05.10 | Elisa Buson

Tumori: italiana scatta fermo immagine di proteina factotum
Ansa Salute

2013.05.10 | Elisa Buson

Una fotografia molecolare per l'ubiquitina

2013.05.10 | Francesco Aiello