• Cancer Evolution & Ecology


    Angelo Fortunato, PhD

    Assistant Research Professor

  • Cancer evolution

    Breast Cancer Heterogeneity

    Intra-tumor heterogeneity

    We hypothesize that the degree of intra-tumor heterogeneity in DCIS should predict which tumors are likely to become invasive and metastatic.

    Cancer micro-ecology

    Cancer ecology

    Genomic and micro-ecological heterogeneity drives neoplastic progression.


    Next generation sequencing

    Development of new methods to extract high quality sequencing data from small amounts of DNA extracted from FFPE samples.

  • Model Organisms

    Novel model organisms in cancer research


    Trichoplax adhaerens

    T. adhaerens is the simplest non-parasitic multicellular animal.




    Tethya wilhelma

    T. whilelma is a demosponge.


    Macrostomum lignano

    M. lignano is a small free-living, marine flatworm within the phylum Platyhelminthes. M. lignano is used as a model organism for addressing fundamental questions of biology.

    Comb jellies

    Mnemiopsis leidyi

    M. leidyi is a simultaneous hermaphrodite capable of self-fertilization and can reach a length up to 100 mm and 25 mm wide. Its diet consists of zooplankton, small crustaceans, fish eggs, and larvae. The native habitat of M. leidyi is the temperate to subtropical Atlantic coast of North and South America but it is an invasive species that adapts well to different conditions. Adults are capable of regenerating removed or damaged body parts.

  • Curriculum Vitae

    Angelo Fortunato

    Assistant Research Professor




    Doctor of Philosophy degree, Experimental and Clinical Oncology, Department of Experimental Pathology and Oncology, University of Florence, Italy.


    Doctor of Philosophy degree, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Rice University, Texas, USA.


    Qualified as a Professional Biologist, University of Florence/Ministry of Education, University and Research, Italy.


    Laurea (equivalent to masters degree) in Biological Science, Dep. of Animal Biology and Genetics, University of Florence, Italy.


    Current position


    Assistant Research Professor, Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA.



    Professional experiences


    Research Scientist, Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA.


    Associate Specialist, Department of Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.


    Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Experimental and Clinical Biomedical Sciences “Mario Serio”, University of Florence, Italy.


    Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine (former Dep. of Experimental Pathology and Oncology), University of Florence, Italy.


    Contract Researcher, Department of Gynecology, Perinatal Medicine and Human Reproduction, University of Florence, Italy.


    Postdocoral Fellow, Department of Neuroscience, Molecular Medicine, University of Siena, Italy.


    Research Associate, The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK.


    Contract Researcher, postdoctoral, Institute Jacques Monod, CNRS, Universités Paris 6 et 7, Paris, France.


    Visiting Scholar, Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA



    Scientific interests


    I am interested in cancer evolution and in the molecular basis of complex biological processes and diseases.

    Cancer biology, molecular genetics, molecular biology, evolutionary biology, cancer gene therapy, integrative biology.





    33. FORTUNATO A. and AKTIPIS A. 2019. Social Feeding Behavior of Trichoplax adhaerens. Front. Ecol. Evol. 7:19. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00019


    32. FORTUNATO A.. 2017. The role of hERG1 ion channels in epithelial-mesenchymal transition and the capacity of riluzole to reduce cisplatin resistance in colorectal cancer cells. Cell Oncol (Dordr). 2017 Aug;40(4):367-378. doi: 10.1007/s13402-017-0328-6. Epub 2017 Jun 7.



    31. FORTUNATO A., BODDY A.M., MALLO D., AKTIPIS A., MALEY C.C., PEPPER W.J. 2017. Natural Selection in Cancer Biology: From Molecular Snowflakes to Trait Hallmarks. Cancer Evolution, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. Feb. 1; 7(2). DOI: 10.1101/cshperspect.a029652. Published in advance, October 21, 2016.


    30. IRDANI T., FORTUNATO A. and TORRE R. 2015. An ultra-rapid cryo-technique for complex organisms. Cryobiology, 2015, Oct 21. pii: S0011-2240(15)00394-6.

    doi: 10.1016/j.cryobiol.2015.10.144


    29. BODDY A.M. FORTUNATO A., WILSON SAVRES M AND AKTIPIS A. 2015. Fetal microchimerism and maternal health: A review and evolutionary analysis of cooperation and conflict beyond the womb. Bioessays, 37(10):1106-18. doi: 10.1002/bies.201500059. Epub 2015 Aug 28.


    28. CROCIANI O., ZANIERI F., PILLOZZI S., LASTRAIOLI E., STEFANINI M., FIORE A., FORTUNATO A., D’ AMICO M., MASSELLI M., DELORENZO E., CHIU M., BUSSOLATI O., BECHETTI A. and ARCANGELI A. 2013. hERG1 channels modulate integrin signaling to trigger angiogenesis and tumor progression in colorectal cancer. Scientific Reports, 3: 3308, DOI: 10.1038/srep03308.


    27. PILLOZZI S.*, FORTUNATO A.*, DE LORENZO E., BORRANI E., GIACHI M., SCARSELLI G., NOCI I., ARCANGELI A. 2013. Role for LH/hCG-R in distant metastasis in an endometrial cancer mouse model.

    * equally contributed to the paper. Frontiers in Cancer Endocrinology, doi: 10.3389/fonc.2013.00285.


    26. FORTUNATO A. GASPAROLI L., FALSINI S., BONI L. and ARCANGELI A. 2013. An analytical method for the quantification of hERG1 channel gene expression in human colorectal cancer. Diagnostic Molecular Pathology, Epub: 2013 Nov 4.


    25. FALSINI S., RISTORI S., CIANI L., FORTUNATO A. and ARCANGELI A. 2013. Advances in lipid-based platforms for RNAi therapeutics. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, DOI: 10.1021/jm400791q, Epub: September 18, 2013


    24. FIORE A., CARRARESI L., MORABITO A., POLVANI S., FORTUNATO A., LASTRAIOLI E., FEMIA AP, DE LORENZO E., CADERNI G and ARCANGELI A. 2013. Characterization of hERG1 channel role in mouse colorectal carcinogenesis. Cancer Medicine, 2 (5): 583–594.


    23. FORTUNATO A. and S. TURILLAZZI. 2012. Dufour's gland possible role in the evolution of sting morphology and function in hover wasps (Hymenoptera Stenogastrinae). Arthropod Structure & Development 41: 259-264.


    22. ARCANGELI A., NOCI I., FORTUNATO A. and SCARSELLI GF.2010. The LH/hCG Axis in Endometrial Cancer: A New Target in the Treatment of Recurrent or Metastatic Disease. Obstetrics and Gynecology International, doi:10.1155/2010/486164. Epub 2010 Jul 15.


    21. FORTUNATO A. 2009. Quantitative high-throughput analysis of synthetic genetic interactions in Caenorhabditis elegans by RNA interference. Genomics, 93: 392-396.


    20. FORTUNATO A. 2009. The cost of being bright. Journal of Insect Behavior, 22: 49-53.


    19. LEHNER B., CROMBIE C., TISCHLER J., FORTUNATO A. and FRASER A.G. 2006. Systematic mapping of genetic interactions in Caenorhabditis elegans identifies common modifiers of diverse signaling pathways. Nature Genetics, 38(8):896-903.


    18. LEHNER B.,CALIXTO A., CROMBIE C., TISCHLER J., FORTUNATO A., CHALFIE M. AND FRASER A.G. 2006. Loss of LIN-35, the Caenorhabditis elegans ortholog of the tumor suppressor p105Rb, results in enhanced RNA interference. Genome Biology, 7(1): R4


    17. FORTUNATO A. and A.G. FRASER. 2005. Uncover genetic interactions in Caenorhabditis elegans by RNA interference. Bioscience Reports, 25(5/6): 299-307.


    16. ROMANI R., ISIDORO N., RIOLO P., BIN F., FORTUNATO A., TURILLAZZI S., BEANI L. 2005. A new role for antennation in paper wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae): antennal courtship and sex dimorphic glands in antennomeres. Insectes Sociaux, 52: 96-102.


    15. STRASSMANN J.E., FORTUNATO A., CERVO R., TURILLAZZI S., DAMON J.M. AND QUELLER D.C. 2004. The cost of queen loss in the social wasp Polistes dominulus. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 77(4): 343-355.


    14. FORTUNATO A., F.R. DANI, M.F. SLEDGE, L. FONDELLI and S. TURILLAZZI. 2004. Alarm communication in Ropalidia social wasps. (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Insectes Sociaux, 51: 299-305.


    13. QUELLER D. C., K.F. FOSTER, A. FORTUNATO AND J.E. STRASSMANN. 2003. Cooperation and conflict in the social amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum. In: T. Kikuchi, T., N. Azuma and S. Higashi, S. (eds.), Genes, Behaviors and Evolution of Social Insects (pps. 173-200). Hokkaido University Press, Sapporo, Japan.


    12. FORTUNATO A., D.C. QUELLER AND J.E. STRASSMANN. 2003. A linear dominance hierarchy among clones in chimeras of the social amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 16(3): 438-445.


    11. FORTUNATO A., J.E. STRASSMANN, L. SANTORELLI AND D.C. QUELLER. 2003. Co-occurrence in nature of different clones of the social amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum. Molecular Ecology, 12: 1031-1038.


    10. FOSTER K.R., FORTUNATO A., STRASSMANN J.E. AND QUELLER D.C.2002. The costs and benefits of being a chimera. Proceedings of Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, 269: 2357-2372.


    9. BEANI L., M. F. SLEDGE, S. MAIANI, F. BOSCARO, M. LANDI, A. FORTUNATO, S.TURILLAZZI. 2002. Behavioral and chemical analyses of scent-marking in the lek system of a hover-wasp (Vespidae, Stenogastrinae). Insectes Sociaux, 49: 275-281.


    8. FORTUNATO A., R. MAILE, S. TURILLAZZI, E.D. MORGAN, G. MONETI, G.R. JONES AND G. PIERACCINI. 2001. Defensive role of the secretion of Ectal Mandibular glands of the wasp Polistes dominulus. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 27: 569-579.


    7. FORTUNATO A., TURILLAZZI S. AND G. DELFINO.2000. Ectal mandibular gland in Polistes dominulus (Christ) (Hymenoptera:Vespidae) ultrastructural modifications over the secretory cycle. Journal of Morphology, 244: 45-55.


    6. SLEDGE M.F., A. FORTUNATO, S. TURILLAZZI, E. FRANCESCATO, R. HASHIM, G. MONETI AND G. JONES. 2000. The use of Dufour`s gland secretion to defend the nest in the hover wasps (Hymenoptera, Stenogastrinae). Journal of Insect Physiology, 46: 753-761.


    5. SLEDGE M.F., DANI F.R., FORTUNATO A., MASCHWITZ U., CLARKE S.R., FRANCESCATO E., HASHIM R., MORGAN E.D., JONES G.R. AND S. TURILLAZZI. 1999. Venom induces alarm behaviour in the social wasp Polybioides raphigastra: (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) an investigation of alarm behaviour, venom volatiles, and sting autotomy. Physiological Entomology, 24: 234-239


    4. FORTUNATO A. AND S. TURILLAZZI.2001. The Ectal Mandibular glands of Polistes dominulus (Hymenoptera Vespidae). Atti Dell`Accademia Nazionale Italiana di Entomologia. Rendiconti, Anno XLVIII


    3. FORTUNATO A. AND C. COSTER-LONGMAN.2000. Reproductive behavior and related anatomical structures for the production of pheromones and luminous signals in the male of Metischnogaster (Vespidae: Stenogastrinae). Insect Social Life, 3: 27-28.


    2. FORTUNATO A., G.DELFINO AND S.TURILLAZZI.2000. Exocrine glands in the parameres of male Liostenogaster flavolineata (Vespidae: Stenogastrinae). Insect Social Life, 3: 29-34.


    1. DELFINO G., FORTUNATO A., FORMIGLI F. AND TURILLAZZI S.1998. Structural and ultrastructural features of the ectal mandibular gland in Liostenogaster (Vespidae, Stenogastrinae). Insect Social Life, 2: 45-51.                                            





    Identification and characterization of genes involved in the development and progression of colorectal and endometrial cancers. Thesis of Doctor of Philosophy, University of Florence, Italy, 2012.  Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, Collocazione: TDR 130 00753, Inventario: CTFD0018280


    Evolutionary conflict in chimeras of the social amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum.

    Thesis of Doctor of Philosophy, Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA, 2002. URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1911/18079


    Morfologia e ultrastruttura delle ghiandole mandibolari ectali di Polistes dominulus e possible funzione della loro secrezione. Thesis of Laurea, University of Florence, 1999.

  • Media

    Amoebalike creatures form digestive ‘fronts’ to consume their prey​, Science Magazine.

    The Lab Aquatic


    Fetal cells influence mom's health during pregnancy — and long after

    BIOESSAYS: Fetal microchimerism and maternal health

    Fetal microchimerism and maternal health, New York Times