Michelangelo Foti

Prof. Michelangelo Foti

Obésité et syndrome métabolique


Michelangelo Foti obtained his  PhD in 1996 at the University of Geneva for his work on the regulation of the CD4 receptor expression and trafficking by the HIV viral protein Nef. He then did a two years postdoctoral stay at the University of San Diego (California, USA) in the lab of S.Emr working on phosphatases regulating the phosphoinositide metabolism in yeast. Back in Geneva in 2001, he pursued his projects focusing on HIV cellular receptors trafficking, meanwhile completing my education by obtaining a MBA from the University of Geneva. He then become MER at the Faculty of Medicine in Geneva in 2005 and developed a new axis of research in the field of liver metabolic diseases and cancer occurring with obesity or HCV infection. In 2011, he obtained the title of “Privat-Docent” from the Geneva Medical Faculty and was appointed as Associate Professor in April 2012.

Reserach aims

Molecular mechanisms involved in fatty liver diseases and hepatic cancer development.
Prof. Foti's major interest  is to define the role of two microRNAs, Mir21 and Mir22, and the PI3K/ PTEN signalling axis, in driving insulin resistance, hepatic steatosis and its progression to cancer. His previous work uncovered that free fatty acids (FFAs) downregulate hepatocyte PTEN via mTOR/NFB-dependent induction of Mir21 to promote (i) steatosis, (ii) liver-peripheral organ crosstalk altering glucose/lipid homeostasis, iii) inflammation/fibrosis, and iv) cancer. Likewise, he showed that HCV infection also downregulates PTEN along with altered hepatic insulin sensitivity and cholesterol/lipid metabolism, as well as an increased virion egress.

Currently, projects focus on 3 different axes:

  1. The molecular mechanisms by which the Mir21/Mir22/PTEN signalling affect insulin sensitivity, the development of fatty liver diseases and their progression toward cancer with diet-induced obesity.
  2. The role of hepatic microRNAs and PI3K/PTEN signalling in hepatokines-dependent inter-organ communication regulating systemic homeostasis.
  3. The role of microRNAs and PTEN in hepatic metabolic disorders associated with hepatitis C viral infection.

 Current grants

  • Swiss National Funds for Scientific Research (SNFS)
  • Sinergia Program of the SNSF
  • Swiss Cancer Research
  • European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes