Annagiada Toniolo

CRIG member
Annagiada Toniolo

Doctoral fellow – Unit for Cellular and Molecular (Patho)physiology, Subunit Keratinocyte microenvironment lab, Inflammation Research Center, VIB-UGent
Principal investigator: prof. Geert van Loo (PhD) & prof. Esther Hoste (PhD)

Research focus

Previous studies in my laboratory proved that different cell death modalities are involved in skin homeostasis and protect from tumor formation (Hoste et al., 2021). The model of study is non-melanoma skin cancer, for which the cell of origin is the keratinocyte. In particular, cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas (cSCCs), common forms of skin cancer for which the incidence is on the rise, partly due to the fact that SCCs represent the most frequent neoplasm in immunosuppressed patients (Brin et al., 2014). It is not known the contribution of KC-specific apoptosis, necroptosis and pyroptosis to KC-derived skin cancer formation and progression and in particular the cancer stem cell niche. 
Our aim is to map the contribution of different types of regulated cell death to skin tumorigenesis and SC plasticity. This study on SCC will allow to determine if the manipulation of keratinocytes cell death mediators has a significant therapeutic potential against cancer. Preliminary data on cSCC are showing a promising contribution of cell death pathways in tumorigenesis, the next step is to explore cell death in oral squamous cell carcinoma (oSCC), a more aggressive form of SCC that allow to expand the investigation to metastasizing tumors. The final goal is to extrapolate these findings to other tissues and provide insight into how cell death pathways can be exploited not only to induce quiescence in tumorigenic contexts, but also to improve stem cell-based therapies.


  • 2022-present: PHD Candidate at Ghent University IRC-VIB (BE)
  • 2022: Research Fellow at Università degli Studi di Padova (IT)
  • 2021: Undergraduate Researcher at Université de Lausanne (CH)
  • 2019-2021: Master degree in Pharmaceutical biotechnologies at University of Padova (IT)
  • 2016-2019: Bachelor degree in Biotechnologies at University of Padova (IT)

Key publications

  • “Autophagy critically controls skin immunity inflammation and apoptosis-induced stem cell activation”. Autophagy, 2023 (Under revision)

Contact & links

  • Lab address: VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research, Technologiepark 71, 9052 Gent-Zwijnaarde
  • Keratinocyte microenvironment lab
  • LinkedIn
  • Annagiada Toniolo is interested to receive invitations for presentations or talks