Group leader: Francesco Cecconi

In 1998, Francesco Cecconi has made his initial groundbreaking discoveries on the molecular mechanisms of apoptosis, by identifying the developmental function of Apaf1, the protease activating factor 1.

Following long-term ambitious development of novel techniques, to study cell death and survival, and characterized by the use of highly interdisciplinary approaches, his own group was established in Rome, Italy, in 2000. Since 2006 Francesco Cecconi is Full Professor at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, where he teaches Developmental Biology.

Later, after his seminal work on the activating molecule in Beclin 1-regulated autophagy (AMBRA1), Prof. Cecconi became a world-leader scientist in the field of autophagy in development and disease, placing his group among the most prominent European teams in the fundamental research about the key cellular process of autophagy. In particular, he discovered AMBRA1 as being one of the few members of the vertebrate autophagy core complex and of the mitophagy apparatus, a downstream direct target of mTORC1, responsible of autophagosome formation, essential for brain development and immune cell homeostasis, and involved in controlling cell proliferation, death and differentiation.

Francesco Cecconi directs since 2013 in Copenhagen Cell Stress and Survival at DCRC, through which he is committed in elucidating the role of autophagy in a number of tumors and in identifying novel strategies in cancer treatment, based on autophagy manipulation. His work is best characterized as a successful combination of uncompromised and innovative basic science at highest quality with strong translational interest.

Of note, Prof. Cecconi has published more than 200 papers in important scientific journals, such as Cell, Nature, Nature Cell Biology, Nature Neuroscience, which obtained >23,000 citations by peers; further, he is elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), the European Cell Death Organization (ECDO), the Cell Death Society (CDS) and the Nordic Autophagy Society (NAS). Also, Francesco Cecconi is Deputy Director of the Center of Excellence for Autophagy, Recycling and Disease (CARD) in Copenhagen.

He has acted as mentor of 23 Postdocs, 26 PhD, and 100+ Master Students and, since 2013, he has Co-supervised students enrolled in the PhD School in Molecular Mechanisms of Disease (MoMed) of the University of Copenhagen.Last, in the period 2017-2019 he has been the Coordinator of the PhD School in Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata.


Group leader Francesco Cecconi 

ORCID: 0000-0002-5614-4359

Twitter: @CecconiLabs


NAS - Nordic Autophagy Society

EMBO - European Molecular Biology Organisation

CDS - The Cell Death Society

ECDO - European Cell Death Organisation