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Agnese Di Rocco, Ph.D.


Dr. Agnese Di Rocco is currently an Assistant Professor at the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute, Pennsylvania Biotechnology center, Doylestown, PA.  Previously a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Department of Cancer Biology, Philadelphia, PA. 



Dr. Di Rocco has a broad background in cancer biology, in particular in soft-tissue tumors and in breast and prostate cancer.  During my PhD training, my goal was to uncover the role of MEK/ERK pathway in embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a common and aggressive soft tissue sarcoma in children.I have successufully published my contribution in peer-reviewed journals. 

During my first post-doctoral training I have studied the role of retinoid receptor in the skeletal muscle repair. This research training allows me to acquire experience in several tecniques, in particular in vivo. 

My second post-doctoral training has given the chance to become an expert in some molecular biology techniques. 

Currently, my research interest is the role of long non coding RNA in the breast cancer development. 


Contributions to Science

MEK/ERK pathway in embryonal Rabdomyosarcoma. Dr. Zani and her group have showed that a tight correlation of MEK/ERK inhibition with c-Myc down-regulation leads to a block of rabdomyosarcoma tumor growth. Thus, MEK inhibitors may be investigated for a signal transduction-based targeting of the c-Myc as a therapeutic strategy in embional Rabdomyosarcoma.

1. Marampon F, Bossi G, Ciccarelli C, Di Rocco A, Sacchi A, Pestell RG, Zani BM. MEK/ERK inhibitor U0126 affects in vitro and in vivo growth of Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma. Molecular Cancer Therapy, 8(3): 543- 551, 2009.

2. Marampon F, Gravina GL, Di Rocco A, Bonfili P, Di Staso M, Fardella C, Polidoro L, Ciccarelli C, Festuccia C, Popov VM, Pestell RG, Tombolini V, Zani BM. MEK/ERK inhibitor U0126 increases the radiosensitivity of Rhabdomyosarcoma cells in vitro and in vivo by down-regulating growth and DNA repair signals. Molecular Cancer Therapy, 10(1): 159-68, 2011.

3. Gravina GL, Festuccia C, Popov VM, Di Rocco A, Colapietro A, Sanità P, Monache SD, Musio D, De Felice F, Di Cesare E, Tombolini V, Marampon F. c-Myc Sustains Transformed Phenotype and Promotes Radioresistance of Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma Cell Lines. Radiat Res.,185(4):411-22, 2016

Retinod acid receptors and skeletal muscle repair. I have demonstrated that endogenous retinoic acid receptor gamma signaling is involved in skeletal muscle repair and that selective retinoic acid receptor gamma agonists may be beneficial to promote repair in various types of muscle injuries.

4. Di Rocco A, Uchibe K, Larmour C, Berger R, Liu M, Barton ER and Iwamoto M. Selective RARγ agonists promote repair of injured skeletal muscle in mouse. The American journal of Pathology. 185(9):2495-504, 2015.