Recorded: 08 Jun 2004
I am Italian. I was born in Milano, in the Northern Italy. I studied genetics. Actually, genetics was always my passion. I got a degree in yeast genetics. Then I moved onto genetics supplied to human cells and I had postdoctoral training in Rotterdam as well as in Basel. I had the privilege to work with George Kohler that won the Nobel Prize in Basel. So with the help of these scientists I was encouraged to come to the United States. So I came in 1982. I started my postdoctoral training at the National Cancer Institute.
So my interest at the time already was cancer genetics and it still is my major interest, cancer genetics.
So after seven years at the NCI I tried to go back to Italy. I’m saying I tried because indeed I went back to Italy to Milan where I became an associate professor. But there it was very difficult for me to do research. So I actually was involved in teaching genetics at the medical school. But then periodically I was coming back to the United States and also at Cold Spring Harbor for meeting and so on.
But in 1991 I basically stayed in Italy for about five years. Then in 1997 I decided to go to Johns Hopkins University because I made my mind to come back to the United States for doing research because I didn’t have enough financial support in my country.
Then I spent five years at Johns Hopkins as a visiting professor, still going back to Milana and teaching the spring course of genetics there. Finally in 2002 I was offered the position at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in New York State. I decided after many consideration to leave for good Italy and come here to spend my last period of life in cancer research.
Nicoletta Sacchi, Ph.D., is a Professor and Distinguished Member of the Department of Cancer Biology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York where she has been focusing on gene regulation in cancer cells since 2003. Native to Milan, Italy, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Milan in 1972, followed by postdoctoral work at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, at the Roche Institute of Immunology in Basel under Nobelist Georges Köhler.
In 1982 she came to the United States to continue her postdoctoral training at the National Cancer Institute. She returned to Italy in 1991 to become an Associate Professor at the University of Milan, until 1997 when she decided to make the US her home. That year she became a Visiting Scientist at Johns Hopkins University.
In 2002 Dr. Sacchi, was named the most cited women scientist and the 18th most cited scientist worldwide That year she received recognition for having the most quoted paper over the 20 year period from 1983 to 2002, "Single-step method of RNA isolation by acid guanidinium thiocyanate phenol chloroform extraction" Analytical Biochemistry 162(1):156-9,1987, which she co-wrote with Piotr Chomczynski.. This article has been cited over 56,000 times as of January, 2008.
Dr. Sacchi has been awarded the EMBO Award (1974 and 1981), the Soroptimist International Award (1976), AIRC Award (1984), the Gianina Gaslini Medal (1989), and the BIOTEC Award (1989.)