Dr Massimiliano di Pietro

University of Cambridge

University departments
MRC Cancer Unit
University institutes
Hutchison MRC Research Centre

Position: MRC Senior Clinician Scientist and Gastroenterology Consultant
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Research description

I have an interest in early detection of upper gastro-intestinal cancer, with particular attention to oesophageal cancer and risk stratification of patients with Barrett?s oesophagus. My research focuses on novel imaging modalities including infra-red molecular imaging, confocal laser endomicroscopy and autofluorescence imaging and clinical utility of tissue molecular biomarkers I am an MRC Senior Clinician Scientist at the University of Cambridge MRC Cancer Unit and Honorary Consultant Gastroenterology at Cambridge University. I have completed my medical and specialty training at the University of Naples in Italy and spent two years (2001-2003) at the Institute of Molecular Cancer Research at the University of Zurich (Switzerland) to study colon cancer biology. I have been in Cambridge UK since 2007, first as clinical lecturer and research fellow, and then as Senior Clinician Scientist and Gastroenterology consultant. Over the last 8 years in Cambridge I have developed a strong research interest in Barrett?s esophagus, which I believe is an extraordinary research model to study epithelial carcinogenesis. My research has embraced key aspects from pathogenesis of Barrett?s esophagus, to molecular biomarkers for patients? stratification and advanced endoscopic imaging for the early diagnosis of dysplasia and cancer. My early studies in Barrett?s oesophagus have elucidated the ole of Homeobox genes in the development and carcinogenesis of Barrett?s neoplasia. More recently I have focused on advanced endoscopic imaging and molecular biomarkers. For the first time, I have developed a novel diagnostic approach based on the integration of endoscopic imaging and biomarkers, which used Barrett?s neoplasia as research model, but it is applicable to all pre-malignant diseases. I have expertise in designing research protocols, conduct research and supervise staff and I have led on to a multi-center European imaging trial (TIME study, Trimodal imaging and Molecular Endpoints) which has been successfully completed and published. I have received an Addenbrooke?s Charitable Trust grant in 2011, which funded the confocal laser endomicroscopy technology in Cambridge. I am currently developing novel algorithm for the use of confocal endomicroscopy in the oesophagus including autofluorescence imaging as red-flag technique. In collaboration with Rebecca Fitzgerald, Kevin Brindle and Sarah Bohndiek I am investigating lectin-based molecular imaging using infra-red light as novel endoscopic detection technique for oesophageal neoplasia

Research Programme
Early Detection

Barrett's oesophagus Oesophageal Cancer Cancer Imaging Biomarkers Homeobox genes

Recent publications:
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Key publications

di Pietro M, Bird-Lieberman E, Liu X et al., Autofluorescence-directed confocal endomicroscopy in combination with a three-biomarker panel can inform management decisions in Barrett?s esophagus. Am J Gastroenterol 2015 Nov;110(11):1549-58

di Pietro M, Shariff MK, Boerwinkel DF et al, The combination of autofluorescence endoscopy and molecular biomarkers is a novel diagnostic tool for dysplasia in Barrett's esophagus. Gut. 2015 Jan;64(1):49-56

Shariff MK, Varghese S, O'Donovan M, Abdullahi Z, Liu X, Fitzgerald RC, di Pietro, M. Pilot randomized crossover study comparing the efficacy of transnasal disposable endosheath with standard endoscopy to detect Barrett?s esophagus. Endoscopy. Endoscopy. 2016 Feb;48(2):110-6

Ross-Innes CS, Becq J, Warren A, Cheetham RK, Northen H, O'Donovan M, Malhotra S, di Pietro M et al. Whole-genome sequencing provides new insights into the clonal architecture of Barrett's esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma. Nat Genet. 2015 Sep;47(9):1038-46.

di Pietro M, Chan D, Fitzgerald RC and Wang KK. Screening for Barrett?s esophagus. Gastroenterology. 2015 May;148(5):912-23 Barbera M, di Pietro M, Walker E et al. The human squamous oesophagus has widespread capacity for clonal expansion from cells at diverse stages of differentiation. Gut. 2014 Jan;64(1):11-9

Fitzgerald RC, di Pietro M, Ragunath K et al, British Society of Gastroenterology guidelines on the diagnosis and management of Barrett's oesophagus. Gut. 2014 Jan;63(1):7-42

di Pietro M., Lao-Sirieix P., Boyle S., et al. Evidence for a functional role of epigenetically regulated midcluster HOXB genes in the development of Barrett?s esophagus. PNAS, 2012 Jun 5;109(23):9077-82

di Pietro M, Bellver JS, Menigatti M, Bannwart F, Schnider A, Russell A, Truninger K, Jiricny J, Marra G. Defective DNA Mismatch Repair Determines a Characteristic Transcriptional Profile in Proximal Colon Cancers. (2005) Gastroenterology, 129:1047-59

di Pietro M., Marra, G., Cejka, P., Stojic, L., Menigatti, M. Cataruzza, M.S. and Jiricny, J.Mismatch repair-dependent transcriptome changes in human cells treated with the methylating agent N-methyl-n'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine. (2003) Cancer Res. 63, 8158-8166.