Chiara Cugno, MD

Director Advanced Cell Therapy Core (ACTC)
Attending Physician Pediatric Oncology and Hematology
Advanced Cell Therapy Core

Email: ccugno (@) sidra.org
Phone: +974 4003 7553

  • Biography

    Dr. Cugno is an experienced medical doctor with a Board Certification in Pediatrics and Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the University of Pavia, Italy (2006), and a II Level Master in Pediatric Hematology at the University “La Sapienza” of Rome, Italy (2010).

    She has been directly involved in the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) activity at the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, a renowned Academic Health Center that has performed more than 1500 HSCT (autologous, and allogeneic from sibling, unrelated and mismatched family donors, including cord blood transplants). Moreover, she conducted clinical research projects on innovative strategies of adoptive and regenerative cell therapies at the GMP-certified lab affiliated with the above-mentioned clinical unit, and on PhosphoFlow Cytometry for studying the intracellular signaling in pediatric leukemia.

    Dr. Cugno joined Sidra Medicine in April 2014, as Bone Marrow Transplant Program Manager in the Research Division and she was appointed Director of the Clinical Research Center, now re-named Advanced Cell Therapy Core, in October 2016. At Sidra, she has been working on the development of the ACTC, including a Cellular Therapy Unit for the delivery of cellular products for tissue, cell and gene therapy, and research projects on Mesenchymal Stromal Cells and pediatric leukemia.
  • Our Research and Approach

    Sidra ACTC is an integrated core facility that hosts a Stem Cell Program for cell, gene therapy and regenerative medicine entailing facilities, clinical grade equipment, laboratories for Research & Development, clean rooms and laboratories for Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) to scale up to clinical production. Clean rooms and GMPs are based on non-conventional high-tech modular systems unique in the Gulf and can dynamically adapt to new future requirements.

    Activities currently range from Hematopoietic Stem Cells processing, as part of the Bone Marrow Transplantation clinical program, to several projects of cell therapy (i.e. production of mesenchymal stromal cell from different sources), gene therapy (i.e. anti-tumor engineered Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cells) and regenerative medicine (i.e. production of platelet rich plasma, platelet rich fibrin, adipose-derived stem cells and cell-drug codelivery).

    ACTC aims to follow international standards and guidelines (ISO9001, GMP, JACIE-FACT) for the safe delivery of ACTs to patients.

    Research interests on:
    • Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (deep phenotyping, secretome, lipidomics and metabolomics, etc.);
    • Anti-tumor engineered Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cells;
    • Pediatric leukemia (phosphoFlow cytometry, epigenetics and pharmacogenomics);
    • Inherited Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes (genetic and epigenetic make-up);
    • Graft-versus-host disease.
  • Lab Members

    Massimino Miele, BSc
    Lab Manager
    Email: mmiele (@) sidra.org

    Rita Calzone, MSc
    Research Specialist
    Email: rcalzone (@) sidra.org

    Che-Ann Lachica, BSc
    Research Specialist
    Email: clachica (@) sidra.org

    Sheanna Marie Herrera, MSc
    Research Specialist
    Email: sherrera (@) sidra.org

    Asma Al-Sulaiti, BSc
    Research Specialist
    Email: aalsuilaiti1 (@) sidra.org

    Moza Al- Khulaifi, BSc
    Research Specialist
    Email: malkhulaifi (@) sidra.org At Sidra since 1st August 2016  

    Heba Sidahmed, MBBs,
    MRCs Post-Doctoral fellow
    Email: hsidahmed (@) sidra.org

    Giusy Gentilcore, PhD
    Research Specialist
    Email: ggentilcore (@) sidra.org

    Bella Guerrouahen, PhD
    Post-Doctoral Fellow (grant-funded position)
    Email: bguerrouahen (@) sidra.org

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS(equal contribution, *corresponding):

  • Guerrouahen BS, Sidahmed H, Al Sulaiti A, Al Khulaifi M, Cugno C. Enhancing Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Immunomodulation for Treating Conditions Influenced by the Immune System. Stem Cells Int (2019) 7219297.
  • Deola S, Guerrouahen BS, Sidahmed H, Al-Mohannadi A, Elnaggar M, Elsadig R, Abdelalim EM, Petrovski G, Gadina M, Thrasher A, Wels W, Hunger SP, Wang E, Marincola FM, ATH Consortium, Maccalli C, Cugno C*. Tailoring cells for clinical needs. Meeting report from the Advanced Therapy in Health Care Symposium (October 28-29 2017, Doha, Qatar). J Transl Med (2018) 16(1):276.
  • Fadda A, Butt F, Tomei S, Deola S, Lo B, Robay A, Al-Shakaki A, Al-Hajri N, Crystal R, Kambouris M, Wang E, Marincola FM, Fakhro KA, Cugno C*. Two hits in one: Whole Genome Sequencing unveils LIG4 syndrome and Urofacial syndrome in a case report of a child with complex phenotype. BMC Med Genet (2016) 17(1):84.
  • Deola S, Cugno C, Comoli P, Guido I, Rubert L, Zecca M, Zanolini D, Follenzi A, Langes M, Negri G, Tauber M, Pusceddu I, Cavattoni I, Svaldi M, Wang E, Rutella S, and Marincola FM. Evidence for CD19B-CD8T Cell Interactions in Blood and Tissues from Patients with Graft-Versus-Host Disease. Bone Marrow Transplant (2016), 52(3):459-462.
  • Bresters D, Lawitschka A, Cugno C, Pötschger U, Dalissier A, Michel G, Vettenranta K, Sundin M, Al-Seraihy A, Faraci M, Sedlacek P, Versluys AB, Jenkins A, Lutz P, Gibson B, Leiper A, Diaz MA, Shaw PJ, Skinner R, O’Brien TA, Salooja N, Bader P and Peters C. Incidence and severity of crucial late effects after allogeneic HSCT for malignancy under the age of three years: TBI is what really matters. Bone Marrow Transplant (2016) 51(11):1482-1489.
  • Rahman A, Boughorbel S, Presnell S, Quinn C, Cugno C, Chaussabel D, Marr N. A curated transcriptome dataset collection to investigate the functional programming of human hematopoietic cells in early life. F1000Research (2016), 5:414.
  • Svahn J, Bagnasco F, Cappelli E, Onofrillo D, Caruso S, Corsolini F, De Rocco D, Savoia A, Longoni D, Pillon M, Marra N, Ramenghi U, Farruggia P, Locasciulli A, Addari C, Cerri C, Mastrodicasa E, Casazza G, Verzegnassi F, Riccardi F, Haupt R, Barone A, Cesaro S, Cugno C, Dufour C. Somatic, haematologic phenotype, long-term outcome and effect of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. An analysis of 97 Fanconi Anemia patients from the Italian national database on behalf of the Marrow Failure Study Group of the AIEOP (Italian Association of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology). Am J Hematol (2016) 91(7):666-71.
  • Cugno C, Deola S, Filippini P, Stroncek DF, Rutella S, Granulocyte transfusions in children and adults with hematological malignancies: Benefits and controversies. J Transl Med (2015) 13(1):362.
  • Mercuri A, Cannata E, Perbellini O, Cugno C, Balter R, Zaccaron A, Tridello G, Pizzolo G, Bortoli MD, Krampera M, Cipolli M, Cesaro S. Immunophenotypic Analysis of Hematopoiesis in Patients suffering from Shwachman-Bodian-Diamond Syndrome. Eur J Haematol (2015) 95(4):308-15.
  • Barone A, Lucarelli A, Onofrillo D, Verzegnassi F, Bonanomi S, Cesaro S, Fioredda F, Iori AP, Ladogana S, Locasciulli A, Longoni D, Lanciotti M, Macaluso A, Mandaglio R, Marra N, Martire B, Maruzzi M, Menna G, Notarangelo LD, Palazzi G, Pillon M, Ramenghi U, Russo G, Svahn J, Timeus F, Tucci F, Cugno C, Zecca M, Farruggia P, Dufour C, Saracco P. Diagnosis and management of acquired aplastic anemia in childhood. Guidelines from the Marrow Failure Study Group of the Pediatric Haemato-Oncology Italian Association (AIEOP). Blood Cells Mol Dis (2015) 55(1):40-7.