Riccardo Panella Profile Photo
Dr. Riccardo Panella
Assistant Research Professor, Cancer Biology and Genetics

Riccardo Panella, Ph.D., is anAssistant Professor in Cancer Biology and Genetics in the Center for Genomic Medicine at the Desert Research Institute. He obtained his Ph.D. in Molecular Oncology in 2013 at the University of Perugia in Italy after which he was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship from the Marie Curie Foundation in 2014. He worked for six years as a Post-Doctoral fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Cancer Institute / Harvard Medical School Cancer Center.
Riccardo Panella has focused his entire career on translational medicine, with the main goal of developing new treatment options and new therapeutic approaches to disease. His expertise lies in the application of non-coding RNA as both a therapeutic target and as cutting-edge technology for developing new therapeutic paradigms. In the laboratory, his team is currently investigating the role of non-coding RNAs in metabolic homeostasis and how it affects human metabolism. Specifically, they are striving to understand non-coding RNAs metabolic functions in cancer and other metabolically relevant diseases in order to disentangle the mechanistic relationships between microRNAs, metabolism, and cancer progression, particularly in advanced and metastatic tumors. These studies include investigations of the roles of non-coding RNA in multiple types of cancer, including, but not limited to: breast cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, and liver cancer.

The focus of this lab is bench-to-bedside research that leads to the development of novel therapeutic strategies to treat both cancer and metabolic conditions. Our expertise lies in the applications of non-coding RNA as a therapeutic target and as a cutting-edge technology for developing new therapeutic paradigms.

We are currently investigating the roles of non-coding RNA in several types of cancer, including, but not limited to, breast cancer, leukemia, and liver cancer. Additionally, we study human metabolism from the perspective of metabolic functions in cancer and we investigate the roles of non-coding RNAs in metabolism homeostasis: a current focus is obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), two of the most common metabolic diseases in the U.S. population. We contributed to the pool of scientific knowledge by demonstrating the crucial role of microRNA-22 (miR-22) in improving the metastatic potential of breast cancer, in initiating non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and liver cancer. Dissecting molecular mechanisms controlled by non-coding RNA and investigating new therapeutic paradigms that are potentially useful in the treatment and prevention of these diseases would be beneficial, as these methods represent a departure from conventional research and treatment strategies.

Being part of the Healthy Nevada Project we are in an exceptional position as the lab is at the intersection of a research hospital (Renown) that focuses on cancer and a research institute (DRI) that focuses on environmental systems. These environmental systems often play a crucial role in cancer development: water pollution, exposition to certain chemicals and/or minerals, education levels, income, socio-economic status, food habits, access to health care, and others. We are and will continue to investigate how environmental and social factors are impacting the human transcriptome and promote the development and progression of human pathology. Our lab is the biological arm of the newly created Center for Genomic Medicine, which aims to generate novel therapeutic approaches based on the ultra-precision medicine concept. Our research will contribute to dissecting the molecular mechanisms that lead to cancer and metabolic-relevant diseases in humans, how these mechanisms are influenced by environmental and social aspects, and create new therapeutic approaches based on our findings.