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School of Environment and Life Sciences

Professor Federica Sotgia

Chair in Biomedical Science


I obtained my postgraduate degree in Medical Genetics in 2001 from the University of Genova, Italy. I then moved to Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, as a post-doctoral fellow, where I was promoted to Instructor. In 2006, I was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cancer Biology at the Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. In 2012, I moved to the University of Manchester as a Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Cancer Sciences. I started my position at the University of Salford in 2016. 


My teaching is related to my background and research interests in cancer, cancer metabolism, biochemistry and drug discovery.

Research Interests

As a PhD student, I was the first to discover that mutations in the caveolin-3 gene are the cause of a novel form of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, named LGMD-1C. Later on in my career, I developed an interest in breast cancer and I have applied the knowledge and expertise gained from studying mitochondrial metabolism to the breast cancer field.

The main focus of my research is to study the role of the tumor microenvironment in cancer. Specifically, the main theme is elucidating how metabolic alterations in the tumor microenvironment affect tumor growth. We have also provided genetic evidence that enhanced glycolysis in stromal cells supports tumorigenesis.

Another line of research is related to the metabolic requirements of tumor-initiating cells and the repositioning of FDA-approved drugs for their targeting.

Qualifications and Memberships

BA, Biological Sciences (1996)

PhD, Medical Genetics (2001)

Fellow, Fellow, The Higher Education Academy, UK (2017)

Member, Editorial Board of the American Journal of Pathology

Member, American Society of Investigative Pathology


Selected Publications:

De Luca A, Fiorillo M, Peiris-Pagès M, Ozsvari B, Smith DL, Sanchez-Alvarez R, Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Cappello AR, Pezzi V, Lisanti MP, Sotgia F. Mitochondrial biogenesis is required for the anchorage-independent survival and propagation of stem-like cancer cells. Oncotarget. 2015. 6(17):14777-95.

Lamb R, Ozsvari B, Lisanti CL, Tanowitz HB, Howell A, Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Sotgia F, Lisanti MP. Antibiotics that target mitochondria effectively eradicate cancer stem cells, across multiple tumor types: Treating cancer like an infectious disease. Oncotarget. 2015. 6(7):4569-84. *Highlighted in Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2015. 12(4):190.

Sanchez-Alvarez R, Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Lamb R, Hulit J, Howell A, Gandara R, Sartini M, Rubin E, Lisanti MP, Sotgia F. Mitochondrial dysfunction in breast cancer cells prevents tumor growth: Understanding chemoprevention with metformin. Cell Cycle. 2013 12(1):172-82.

Sotgia F, Whitaker-Menezes D, Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Tsirigos A, Lamb R, Sneddon S, Hulit J, Howell A, Lisanti MP. Mitochondria "fuel" breast cancer metabolism: Fifteen markers of mitochondrial biogenesis label epithelial cancer cells, but are excluded from adjacent stromal cells. Cell Cycle. 2012 11(23):4390-4401.

Capozza F, Trimmer C, Castello-Cros R, Katiyar S, Whitaker-Menezes D, Follenzi A, Crosariol M, Llaverias G, Sotgia F, Pestell RG, Lisanti MP. Genetic ablation of Cav1 differentially affects melanoma tumor growth and metastasis in mice. Role of Cav1 in Shh heterotypic signaling and transendothelial migration. Cancer Res. 2012 72(9):2262-74.

Chiavarina B, Whitaker-Menezes D, Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Witkiewicz AK, Birbe RC, Howell A, Pestell RG, Smith J, Daniel R, Sotgia F, Lisanti MP. Pyruvate kinase expression (PKM1 and PKM2) in cancer-associated fibroblasts drives stromal nutrient production and tumor growth. Cancer Biol Ther. 2011 12(12):1101-1113.

Whitaker-Menezes D, Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Flomenberg N, Birbe RC, Witkiewicz AK, Howell A, Pavlides S, Tsirigos A, Ertel A, Pestell RG, Broda P, Minetti C, Lisanti MP, Sotgia F. Hyperactivation of oxidative mitochondrial metabolism in epithelial cancer cells in situ: Visualizing the therapeutic effects of metformin in tumor tissue. Cell Cycle. 2011 10(23): 4047-64.

Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Whitaker-Menezes D, Lin Z, Flomenberg N, Howell A, Pestell RG, Sotgia F, Lisanti MP, Sotgia F. Cytokine production and inflammation drive autophagy in the tumor microenvironment: Role of stromal caveolin-1 as a key regulator. Cell Cycle. 2011 10(11):1784-93.

Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Casey T, Lin Z, Whitaker-Menezes D, Chiavarina B, Zhou J, Wang C, Pavlides S, Martinez-Cantarin MP, Capozza F, Witkiewicz AK, Flomenberg N, Howell A, Pestell RG, Caro J, Lisanti MP, Sotgia F. Autophagy in Cancer Associated Fibroblasts Promotes Tumor Cell Survival: Role of Hypoxia, HIF1 Induction, and NFkB Activation in the Tumor Stromal Microenvironment. Cell Cycle. 2010 9(17):3515-33.

Pavlides S, Whitaker-Menezes D, Castello-Cros R, Flomenberg N, Witkiewicz AK, Frank PG, Casimiro MC, Wang C, Fortina P, Addya S, Pestell RG, Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Sotgia F, Lisanti MP. The reverse Warbutg effect: aerobic glycolysis in cancer associated fibroblasts and the tumor stroma. Cell Cycle. 2009 8(23):3984-4001.

Witkiewicz AK, Dasgupta A, Sotgia F, Mercier I, Pestell RG, Sabel M, Kleer CG, Brody JR, Lisanti MP. An absence of stromal caveolin-1 expression predicts early tumor recurrence and poor clinical outcome in human breast cancers. Am J Pathol. 2009 174(6):2023-34.

Sotgia F, Casimiro MC, Bonuccelli G, Liu M, Menezes D, Er O, Daumer KM, Mercier I, Witkiewicz AK, Minetti C, Capozza F, Rui H, Frank PG, Millimam J, Knudsen ES, Zhou J, Wang C, Pestell RG, Lisanti MP. Loss of Caveolin-3 Induces a Lactogenic Microenvironment that is Protective Against Mammary Tumor Formation. Am J Pathol. 2009 174(2):613-29.

Sotgia F, Del Galdo F, Casimiro MC, Bonuccelli G, Mercier I, Whitaker-Menezes D, Daumer KM, Zhou J, Wang C, Katiyar S, Xu H, Bosco E, Quong AA, Aronow B, Witkiewicz A.K, Minetti C, Frank PG, Jimenez SA, Knudsen ES, Pestell RG, Lisanti MP. Caveolin-1 (-/-) Null Mammary Stromal Fibroblasts Share Characteristics with Human Breast Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts. Am J Pathol. 2009 174(3):746-61.

Zara F, Biancheri R, Bruno C, Bordo L, Assereto S, Gazzerro E, Sotgia F, Wang XB, Gianotti S, Stringara S, Pedemonte M, Uziel G, Rossi A, Schenone A, Tortori-Donati P, van der Knaap MS, Lisanti MP, Minetti C. Deficiency of hyccin, a newly identified membrane protein, causes hypomyelination and congenital cataract. Nat Genet. 2006 38(10):1111-3.

Sotgia F, Williams TM, Schubert W, Medina F, Minetti C, Pestell RG, Lisanti MP. Caveolin-1 deficiency (-/-) conveys premalignant alterations in mammary epithelia, with abnormal lumen formation, growth factor independence, and cell invasiveness. Am J Pathol. 2006 168(1):292-309.

Sotgia F, Razani B, Bonuccelli G, Schubert W, Battista M, Lee H, Capozza F, Schubert AL, Minetti C, Buckley JT, Lisanti MP. Intracellular retention of glycosylphosphatidyl inositol-linked proteins in caveolin-deficient cells. Mol Cell Biol. 2002 22(11):3905-26.

Sotgia F, Lee JK, Das K, Bedford M, Petrucci TC, Macioce P, Sargiacomo M, Minetti C, Sudol M, Lisanti MP. Caveolin-3 directly interacts with the C-terminal tail of beta-dystroglycan: Identification of a central WW-like domain within caveolin family members. J Biol Chem. 2000 275(48):38048-58.

Minetti C, Sotgia F, Bruno C, Scartezzini P, Broda P, Bado M, Masetti E, Mazzocco M, Egeo A, Donati MA, Volonte D, Galbiati F, Cordone G, Bricarelli FD, Lisanti MP, Zara F. Mutations in the caveolin-3 gene cause autosomal dominant limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. Nat Genet. 1998 18(4):365-8.

Selected Reviews and Editorials:

Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Peiris-Pagès M, Pestell RG, Sotgia F, Lisanti MP. Metabolism and Cancer: A therapeutic perspective. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2017 Feb;14(2):113.

Peiris-Pagès M, Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Sotgia F, Lisanti MP. Metastasis and Oxidative Stress: Are Antioxidants a Metabolic Driver of Progression? Cell Metab. 2015 Dec 1;22(6):956-8.

Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Sotgia F, Lisanti MP. Caveolae and signalling in cancer. Nat Rev Cancer. 2015. 15(4):225-37.

Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Sotgia F, Lisanti MP. Metabolic asymmetry in cancer: a "balancing act" that promotes tumor growth. Cancer Cell. 2014. 26(1):5-7.

Martinez-Outschoorn U, Sotgia F, Lisanti MP. Tumor microenvironment and metabolic synergy in breast cancers: critical importance of mitochondrial fuels and function. Semin Oncol. 2014. 41(2):195-216.

Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Lisanti MP, Sotgia F. Catabolic cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) transfer energy and biomass to anabolic cancer cells, fueling tumor growth. Seminars Cancer Biol. 2014. 25:47-60.

Sotgia F, Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Lisanti MP. Cancer metabolism: new validated targets for drug discovery. Oncotarget. 2013 Aug;4(8):1309-16.

Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Sotgia F, Lisanti MP. Power Surge: Supporting Cells "Fuel" Cancer Cell Mitochondria. Cell Metab. 2012 15(1):4-5.

Sotgia F, Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Howell A, Pestell RG, Pavlides S, Lisanti MP. Caveolin-1 and Cancer Metabolism in the Tumor Microenvironment: Markers, Models, and Mechanisms. Annu Rev Pathol. 2012 7:423-67.

Sotgia F, Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Pavlides S, Howell A, Pestell RG, Lisanti MP. Understanding the Warburg effect and the prognostic value of stromal caveolin-1 as a marker of a lethal tumor microenvironment. Breast Cancer Res. 2011 13(4):213.

Sotgia F, Rui H, Bonuccelli G, Mercier I, Pestell RG, Lisanti MP. Caveolin-1, Mammary Stem Cells, and Estrogen-Dependent Breast Cancers. Cancer Res. 2006 66(22):10647-10651.

Engelman JA, Zhang X, Galbiati F, Volonte D, Sotgia F, Pestell RG, Minetti C, Scherer PE, Okamoto T, Lisanti MP. Molecular genetics of the caveolin gene family: implications for human cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer disease, and muscular dystrophy. Am J Hum Genet. 1998 63(6):1578-87.