Dr Ilaria Pagani

PhD, Specialist in Medical Genetics, Affiliate Senior Lecturer, Level C, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Science, University of Adelaide
  • University of Adelaide
Dr Ilaria Pagani

I am a passionate biomedical researcher with an emerging international reputation and leadership in chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). I am investigating new therapies for curing CML patients, collaborating with clinicians and associations of patients. Originally from a small town in the Northern Italy, called Corgeno, I relocated to Adelaide 7 years ago to join the laboratory of Professor Timothy Hughes at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, SAHMRI. I met Professor Hughes and A/Prof David Ross for the first time in 2013 at the Annual Conference of the American Society of Haematology, ASH, the most important Conference for the haematologists worldwide. As winner of the Abstract Achievement Award, I was presenting my work on minimal residual disease on CML done on my laboratory in Italy. This was the beginning of an adventure that changed my life. After this first meeting, I was invited at SAHMRI as visiting post-doc, and 7 years later I am now a permanent resident, with an established friendship circle, a competitive river rower and a Surf Life Saver! I am also President of the Association of Italian Researchers in Australasia, ARIA. Under my Presidency the Association expanded from South Australia to all Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands. I am working closely with the Italian Government for promoting the work of Italian and Italo/Australian researchers in Australia and New Zealand, I am collaborating with the Australian Government for promoting culture and increasing the awareness about health and research in Australia, and I am mediating collaborations of research between the Italian and Australian Governments. I am currently co-writing a book about Scientific Italian migration in Australia.

I am a passionate science communicator concerned with giving back to the next generation of scientists and sharing the significance of my findings with the public. I am advocate for the women rights, and Founder of ARIA Women, a subgroup of ARIA aimed to empower women in Academia.

I specialised in medical genetics, completing my studies with honours in 2016. I used my expertise in genetic diseases and DNA mutations to develop leading edge technologies for studying mitochondrial DNA mutations and monitoring minimal residual disease in CML patients. In 2019, in a highly competitive global competition, I was awarded the inaugural international John Goldman Research Award. As Principal Investigator I am currently leading a team of researchers in a ground-breaking work, aiming to develop a model of prediction of treatment-free remission, currently no available in clinical practice. I clarified the identification of CML patients who may be able to achieve remission, safely discontinue their therapy, and therefore be considered cured.

Also that year, I received a prestigious Beat Cancer Project Mid-Career Research Fellowship from Cancer Council SA allowing me to further the understanding of the metabolism of CML stem cells. My aim is to develop targeted therapies for eradicating leukaemic stem cells and cure CML patients.

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Find out more about Ilaria's research outputs, qualifications and affiliations on the SAHMRI Researcher portal