Portrait of Dr Francesca Gandini Dr Francesca Gandini

f.gandini@hud.ac.uk | 01484 472174



I graduated in Biological Science (Bachelor Degree) in 2009, and then in Molecular Biology and Genetics (Master Degree) in 2011, both at the University of Pavia, Italy.

In November 2011 I gained a 3-years national fellowship at the University of Pavia and I started working as PhD student under the supervision of Professor Antonio Torroni.

In May 2014 I was awarded an EMBO Short Term Fellowship (90 days) to visit the Institute of Legal Medicine, Innsbruck Medical University, where I spent 7 months in the Forensic Molecular Biology lab directed by Professor Walther Parson.

In 2014 I was also nominated by the Fondazione Cariplo and subsequently selected by the Scientific Review Panel of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings to participate in the 64th Meeting of Nobel Laureates (29 June–4 July 2014) in Lindau, Germany – dedicated to Physiology and Medicine.

In December 2014, I received my PhD in “Genetics, Molecular and Cellular Biology” (University of Pavia), dissertation title “Mitogenome variation: a female perspective in human evolution”.

In March 2015, I left the University of Pavia and I was appointed by the University of Huddersfield as a Research Fellow in Archaeogenetics.

Research and Scholarship

An important part of my recent work has focused on the discipline called “phylogeography”, and the application of molecular genetic techniques, in particular using uniparental markers (mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome), to the study of the human past.

Among various studies that I am carrying out, during my Master’s internship and the first years of my PhD, I was mostly involved in those concerning the peopling of the American continent. In particular we focused on the peopling of the Southern Cone of South America, and we evaluated migration models to the Americas by using the information contained in Native mitochondrial genomes from North America. The results of these projects have been published, respectively, on PLoS ONE (de Saint Pierre et al, 2012), the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Hooshiar Kashani et al, 2012) and PNAS (Achilli et al, 2013).

During my PhD I also collaborated with Dr Maria Pala and Prof. Martin Richards on the analysis of J and T sister haplogroups, which led to the proposal of the important role played by the Near Eastern refuge area during the re-colonization of Europe after the Last Glacial Maximum. The results of this study were published on the American Journal of Human Genetics (Pala et al, 2012). In 2013 we further confirmed this hypothesis with another study, in which we expanded and re-analysed the available datasets of two uncommon West Eurasian haplogroups, I and W. Our results showed that haplogroups I and W originated in the Near East during the Last Glacial Maximum or pre-warming period and, like the much more common haplogroups J and T, may have been involved in Late Glacial expansions into Europe starting from the Near East. Thus this data contributed to a better definition of the Late Glacial and postglacial re-peopling of Europe, providing further evidence for the scenario that major population expansions started after the Last Glacial Maximum but before Neolithic times, but also evidencing traces of diffusion events in several I and W subclades dating to the European Neolithic and restricted to Europe (Olivieri et al, 2013).

In the second part of my PhD I focused on a sub-lineage of the Eurasian haplogroup R, called R0a, which is particularly widespread in the Arabian Peninsula and is also found at high frequency in the Horn of Africa, but not in other areas of the African continent. In order to reconstruct the migratory and demographic events that led to its spread in Eastern Africa I performed a phylogeographic analysis of the clade and the results will shortly be submitted for publication (Gandini et al, in prep).

However, mitochondrial DNA is not just a piece of DNA with peculiar features that are informative for evolutionary studies. Mitochondria generate cellular energy in the form of ATP by the process of oxidative phosphorylation. Therefore, the high mutation rate of the mitochondrial genome results not only in the accumulation of the broad spectrum of sequence polymorphisms that give rise to haplogroups and sub-haplogroups, but also in the accumulation of mutations that can cause disease. In the course of my doctoral studies I also contributed to two studies investigating the role of mtDNA mutations in two very particular disease phenotypes, published in Human Mutation (Carossa et al, 2014) and MBC Neurology (La Morgia et al, 2014).

ORCID ID:  orcid.org/0000-0001-8930-8295

Google Scholar: http://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=Trz2d14AAAAJ&hl=en

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Sahakyan, H., Hooshiar Kashani, B., Tamang, R., Kushniarevich, A., Francis, A., Costa, M., Pathak, A., Khachatryan, Z., Sharma, I., van Oven, M., Parik, J., Hovhannisyan, H., Metspalu, E., Pennarun, E., Karmin, M., Tamm, E., Tambets, K., Bahmanimehr, A., Reisberg, T., Reidla, M., Achilli, A., Olivieri, A., Gandini, F., Perego, U., Al-Zahery, N., Houshmand, M., Sanati, M., Soares, P., Rai, E., �arac, J., �ari?, T., Sharma, V., Pereira, L., Fernandes, V., ?ern�, V., Farjadian, S., Singh, D., Azakli, H., �stek, D., Ekomasova (Trofimova), N., Kutuev, I., Litvinov, S., Bermisheva, M., Khusnutdinova, E., Rai, N., Singh, M., Singh, V., Reddy, A., Tolk, H., Cvjetan, S., Lauc, L., Rudan, P., Michalodimitrakis, E., Anagnou, N., Pappa, K., Golubenko, M., Orekhov, V., Borinskaya, S., Kaldma, K., Schauer, M., Simionescu, M., Gusar, V., Grechanina, E., Govindaraj, P., Voevoda, M., Damba, L., Sharma, S., Singh, L., Semino, O., Behar, D., Yepiskoposyan, L., Richards, M., Metspalu, M., Kivisild, T., Thangaraj, K., Endicott, P., Chaubey, G., Torroni, A. and Villems, R. (2017) ‘Origin and spread of human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup U7Scientific Reports , 7, p. 46044. ISSN 2045-2322

Silva, M., Oliveira, M., Vieira, D., Brand�o, A., Rito, T., Pereira, J., Fraser, R., Hudson, B., Gandini, F., Edwards, C., Pala, M., Koch, J., Wilson, J., Pereira, L., Richards, M. and Soares, P. (2017) ‘A genetic chronology for the Indian Subcontinent points to heavily sex-biased dispersalsBMC Evolutionary Biology , 17 (1). ISSN 1471-2148

Olivieri, A., Sidore, C., Achilli, A., Angius, A., Posth, C., Furtw�ngler, A., Brandini, S., Capodiferro, M., Gandini, F., Zoledziewska, M., Pitzalis, M., Maschio, A., Busonero, F., Lai, L., Skeates, R., Gradoli, M., Beckett, J., Marongiu, M., Mazzarello, V., Marongiu, P., Rubino, S., Rito, T., Macaulay, V., Semino, O., Pala, M., Abecasis, G., Schlessinger, D., Conde-Sousa, E., Soares, P., Richards, M., Cucca, F. and Torroni, A. (2017) ‘Mitogenome diversity in Sardinians: a genetic window onto an island's pastMolecular Biology and Evolution , 34 (5), pp. 1230-1239. ISSN 0737-4038


Gandini, F., Achilli, A., Pala, M., Bodner, M., Brandini, S., Huber, G., Egyed, B., Ferretti, L., G�mez-Carballa, A., Salas, A., Scozzari, R., Cruciani, F., Coppa, A., Parson, W., Semino, O., Soares, P., Torroni, A., Richards, M. and Olivieri, A. (2016) ‘Mapping human dispersals into the Horn of Africa from Arabian Ice Age refugia using mitogenomesScientific Reports , 6 (25472). ISSN 2045-2322

Brand�o, A., Eng, K., Rito, T., Cavadas, B., Bulbeck, D., Gandini, F., Pala, M., Mormina, M., Hudson, B., White, J., Ko, T., Saidin, M., Zafarina, Z., Oppenheimer, S., Richards, M., Pereira, L. and Soares, P. (2016) ‘Quantifying the legacy of the Chinese Neolithic on the maternal genetic heritage of Taiwan and Island Southeast AsiaHuman Genetics , 135 (4), pp. 363-376. ISSN 0340-6717


Colli, L., Lancioni, H., Cardinali, I., Olivieri, A., Capodiferro, M., Pellecchia, M., Rzepus, M., Zamani, W., Naderi, S., Gandini, F., Vahidi, S., Agha, S., Randi, E., Battaglia, V., Sardina, M., Portolano, B., Rezaei, H., Lymberakis, P., Boyer, F., Coissac, E., Pompanon, F., Taberlet, P., Ajmone Marsan, P. and Achilli, A. (2015) ‘Whole mitochondrial genomes unveil the impact of domestication on goat matrilineal variabilityBMC Genomics , 16, p. 1115. ISSN 1471-2164

Olivieri, A., Gandini, F., Achilli, A., Fichera, A., Rizzi, E., Bonfiglio, S., Battaglia, V., Brandini, S., De Gaetano, A., El-Beltagi, A., Lancioni, H., Agha, S., Semino, O., Ferretti, L. and Torroni, A. (2015) ‘Mitogenomes from Egyptian Cattle Breeds: New Clues on the Origin of Haplogroup Q and the Early Spread of Bos taurus from the Near EastPLoS ONE , 10 (10), p. e0141170. ISSN 1932-6203


Carossa, V., Ghelli, A., Tropeano, C., Valentino, M., Iommarini, L., Maresca, A., Caporali, L., La Morgia, C., Liguori, R., Barboni, P., Carbonelli, M., Rizzo, G., Tonon, C., Lodi, R., Martinuzzi, A., De Nardo, V., Rugolo, M., Ferretti, L., Gandini, F., Pala, M., Achilli, A., Olivieri, A., Torroni, A. and Carelli, V. (2014) ‘A Novel in-Frame 18-bp Microdeletion inMT-CYBCauses a Multisystem Disorder with Prominent Exercise IntoleranceHuman Mutation , 35 (8), pp. 954-958. ISSN 10597794

La Morgia, C., Caporali, L., Gandini, F., Olivieri, A., Toni, F., Nassetti, S., Brunetto, D., Stipa, C., Scaduto, C., Parmeggiani, A., Tonon, C., Lodi, R., Torroni, A. and Carelli, V. (2014) ‘Association of the mtDNA m.4171C>A/MT-ND1 mutation with both optic neuropathy and bilateral brainstem lesionsBMC Neurology , 14 (1), p. 116. ISSN 1471-2377


Achilli, A., Perego, U., Lancioni, H., Olivieri, A., Gandini, F., Hooshiar Kashani, B., Battaglia, V., Grugni, V., Angerhofer, N., Rogers, M., Herrera, R., Woodward, S., Labuda, D., Smith, D., Cybulski, J., Semino, O., Malhi, R. and Torroni, A. (2013) ‘Reconciling migration models to the Americas with the variation of North American native mitogenomesProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , 110 (35), pp. 14308-14313. ISSN 00278424

Olivieri, A., Pala, M., Gandini, F., Kashani, B., Perego, U., Woodward, S., Grugni, V., Battaglia, V., Semino, O., Achilli, A., Richards, M. and Torroni, A. (2013) ‘Mitogenomes from Two Uncommon Haplogroups Mark Late Glacial/Postglacial Expansions from the Near East and Neolithic Dispersals within EuropePLoS ONE , 8 (7), p. e70492. ISSN 1932-6203

Kushniarevich, A., Sivitskaya, L., Danilenko, N., Novogrodskii, T., Tsybovsky, I., Kiseleva, A., Kotova, S., Chaubey, G., Metspalu, E., Sahakyan, H., Bahmanimehr, A., Reidla, M., Rootsi, S., Parik, J., Reisberg, T., Achilli, A., Hooshiar Kashani, B., Gandini, F., Olivieri, A., Behar, D., Torroni, A., Davydenko, O. and Villems, R. (2013) ‘Uniparental Genetic Heritage of Belarusians: Encounter of Rare Middle Eastern Matrilineages with a Central European Mitochondrial DNA PoolPLoS ONE , 8 (6), p. e66499. ISSN 1932-6203


de Saint Pierre, M., Gandini, F., Perego, U., Bodner, M., G�mez-Carballa, A., Corach, D., Angerhofer, N., Woodward, S., Semino, O., Salas, A., Parson, W., Moraga, M., Achilli, A., Torroni, A. and Olivieri, A. (2012) ‘Arrival of Paleo-Indians to the Southern Cone of South America: New Clues from MitogenomesPLoS ONE , 7 (12), p. e51311. ISSN 1932-6203

Grugni, V., Battaglia, V., Hooshiar Kashani, B., Parolo, S., Al-Zahery, N., Achilli, A., Olivieri, A., Gandini, F., Houshmand, M., Sanati, M., Torroni, A. and Semino, O. (2012) ‘Ancient Migratory Events in the Middle East: New Clues from the Y-Chromosome Variation of Modern IraniansPLoS ONE , 7 (7), p. e41252. ISSN 1932-6203

Pala, M., Olivieri, A., Achilli, A., Accetturo, M., Metspalu, E., Reidla, M., Tamm, E., Karmin, M., Reisberg, T., Hooshiar Kashani, B., Perego, U., Carossa, V., Gandini, F., Pereira, J., Soares, P., Angerhofer, N., Rychkov, S., Al-Zahery, N., Carelli, V., Sanati, M., Houshmand, M., Hatina, J., Macaulay, V., Pereira, L., Woodward, S., Davies, W., Gamble, C., Baird, D., Semino, O., Villems, R., Torroni, A. and Richards, M. (2012) ‘Mitochondrial DNA Signals of Late Glacial Recolonization of Europe from Near Eastern RefugiaThe American Journal of Human Genetics , 90 (5), pp. 915-924. ISSN 0002-9297


Kashani, B., Perego, U., Olivieri, A., Angerhofer, N., Gandini, F., Carossa, V., Lancioni, H., Semino, O., Woodward, S., Achilli, A. and Torroni, A. (2011) ‘Mitochondrial haplogroup C4c: A rare lineage entering America through the ice-free corridor?American Journal of Physical Anthropology , 147 (1), pp. 35-39. ISSN 0002-9483

Achilli, A., Olivieri, A., Pala, M., Hooshiar Kashani, B., Carossa, V., Perego, U., Gandini, F., Santoro, A., Battaglia, V., Grugni, V., Lancioni, H., Sirolla, C., Bonfigli, A., Cormio, A., Boemi, M., Testa, I., Semino, O., Ceriello, A., Spazzafumo, L., Gadaleta, M., Marra, M., Testa, R., Franceschi, C. and Torroni, A. (2011) ‘Mitochondrial DNA Backgrounds Might Modulate Diabetes Complications Rather than T2DM as a WholePLoS ONE , 6 (6), p. e21029. ISSN 1932-6203