Alessandro Gardini, Ph.D.

Alessandro Gardini, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Gene Expression and Regulation program
  • 215-898-3785, office

The Gardini lab pursues the understanding of transcriptional regulation in mammals using a variety of genomic approaches. This lab employs next generation sequencing to obtain comprehensive pictures of the chromatin status (histone modifications), the engagement of transcriptional machineries (transcription factors and RNAPII binding) and the resulting gene expression (mature and nascent RNA).

The lab is particularly keen on investigating the function of enhancers and their associated noncoding enhancer RNAs (eRNAs). Enhancers are thousands of distal regulatory elements distributed throughout the entire genome. They play a fundamental role in orchestrating gene regulation during critical developmental processes such as cell differentiation.  Enhancers were recently discovered to be active spots of transcription. A wide range of stimuli (i.e. hormones, growth factors, membrane depolarization) elicit enhancer activation and prompt transcription of noncoding eRNAs. These short-lived, non-polyadenylated transcripts are required to establish promoter-enhancer communication (DNA looping) and enforce expression of the target protein coding gene.  The underlying mechanisms are poorly understood and the potential contribution of enhancers and eRNAs to cancer just started to emerge.

Born and raised in Italy, Dr. Gardini obtained a B.S./M.S. in Medical Biotechnology at the University of Bologna and attended the graduate school of Molecular Medicine at the University of Milan. After obtaining his Ph.D. at the end of 2008, Dr. Gardini joined the laboratory of Ramin Shiekhattar at the Center of Genomic Regulation in Barcelona. He later moved to The Wistar Institute, then completed his training at the Sylvester Cancer Center of the University of Miami Medical School.  He joined The Wistar Institute as an Assistant Professor in June 2015.


Postdoctoral positions are available to study the role of enhancers and noncoding RNAs in cell differentiation and cancer development, employing a variety of genome-wide techniques and biochemistry approaches.

Research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students are also available.

Motivated individuals are encouraged to inquire here.

Selected Publications

1. Lai F*, Gardini A*, Zhang A and Shiekhattar R.  Integrator mediates the biogenesis of enhancer RNAs. Nature. 2015 Aug 26. doi:10.1038/nature14906. (*equal contribution)

2. Chen FX, Woodfin AR, Gardini A, Rickels RA, Marshall SA, Smith ER, Shiekhattar R, Shilatifard A. PAF1, a Molecular Regulator of Promoter-Proximal Pausing by RNA Polymerase II. Cell. 2015 Aug 12. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2015.07.042.

3. Gardini A and Shiekhattar R.  The many faces of long noncoding RNAs  FEBS J. 2015 May;282(9):1647-57.

4. Gardini A, Baillat D, Cesaroni M, Deqing H, Marinis JM, Wagner EJ, Lazar MA, Shilatifard A and Shiekhattar R.  Integrator Regulates Transcriptional Initiation and Pause Release Following Activation  Mol Cell. 2014 Oct 2;56(1):128-39.

5. Gardini A, Baillat D, Cesaroni M, Shiekhattar R. Genome-wide analysis reveals a role for BRCA1 and PALB2 in transcriptional co-activation.  EMBO J. 2014 Apr 16;33(8):890-905. 

6. Baillat D, Gardini A, Cesaroni M, Shiekhattar R.  Requirement for SNAPC1 in transcriptional responsiveness to diverse extracellular signals. Mol Cell Biol. 2012 Nov;32(22):4642-50

7. ├śrom UA, Derrien T, Beringer M, Gumireddy K, Gardini A, Bussotti G, Lai F, Zytnicki M, Notredame C, Huang Q, Guigo R, and Shiekhattar R. Long non-coding RNAs with enhancer-like function in human cells.  Cell. 2010 Oct 1;143(1):46-58.