Veronica Astro

Research Scientists

Research Scientist



Bldg. 2, level 3, 3333


I joined the laboratory headed by Prof. Antonio Adamo at KAUST in 2016 to work as a postdoctoral fellow. Here, my main research focus was optimizing genome editing techniques and developing protocols for efficiently differentiating human pluripotent stem cells into glucose-sensitive cell derivatives, such as pancreatic b-cells and cardiomyocytes. During my previous research experience, while working in cancer biology, I gained expertise in a wide range of cellular and molecular biology techniques, including advanced microscope methods for live cell imaging at high resolution through fruitful collaborations. In particular, I spent a period at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore in 2012 and at MPI Max Planck Institute of Dresden in 2014. I was awarded a short- and long-term fellowship from the prestigious European EMBO and Italian Foundation for Cancer Research (FIRC). I am deeply committed to science. When I obtained my Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine in 2013 from University Vita-Salute San Raffaele in Milan (Italy), I was already the author of several research articles in peer-reviewed international journals. I majored in molecular biotechnology in 2007 at Milan University (Italy), earning my Bachelor's in Medical Biotechnology in 2005. During my carrier, I have also been teaching younger scientists and leading them through the intricate paths of scientific discoveries.


Research Interests

My primary area of investigation in the STEMD lab focuses on studying sex chromosome aneuploidies during human early development. Particularly, I am modeling Klinefelter syndrome disorder in vitro to study the transcriptional consequences of X-linked genes overdosage through the bi and tri-dimensional differentiation of patient-derived human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) into disease-relevant cell types, such as cardiomyocytes, neurons, and pancreatic b-cells. Moreover, I am generating genetically engineered pluripotent stem cell models of epigenetic modifiers to assess their involvement in the onset of metabolic and neurological disorders by using next-generation sequencing techniques and computational bioinformatics analysis.

Selected Publications

Astro V, Ramirez-Calderon G, Adamo A.STAR Protoc. 2023 Apr 13;4(2):102252. doi: 10.1016/j.xpro.2023.102252. Protocol to measure calcium spikes in cardiomyocytes obtained from human pluripotent stem cells using a ready-to-use media. Online ahead of print. PMID: 37060558. 

Astro V, Fiacco E, Cardona Londoño KJ, De Toma I, Alzahrani HS, Alama J, Kokandi A, Hamoda TAA, Felemban M, Adamo A.Endocr Connect. 2023 Mar 1:EC-22-0515. doi: 10.1530/EC-22-0515. A transcriptomic signature of X chromosome overdosage in Saudi Klinefelter syndrome induced pluripotent stem cells.Online ahead of print. PMID: 36971776

Astro V, Ramirez-Calderon G, Pennucci R, Caroli J, Saera-Vila A, Cardona-Londoño K, Forastieri C, Fiacco E, Maksoud F, Alowaysi M, Sogne E, Falqui A, Gonzàlez F, Montserrat N, Battaglioli E, Mattevi A, Adamo A. Fine-tuned KDM1A alternative splicing regulates human cardiomyogenesis through an enzymatic-independent mechanism. iScience. 2022 Jun 23;25(7):104665. PMID: 35856020; PMCID: PMC9287196.

Astro V*, Alowaysi M*, Fiacco E*, Saera-Vila A, Cardona-Londoño KJ, Aiese Cigliano R, Adamo A. Pseudoautosomal Region 1 Overdosage Affects the Global Transcriptome in iPSCs From Patients With Klinefelter Syndrome and High-Grade X Chromosome Aneuploidies. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2022 Feb 3;9:801597. PMID: 35186953; PMCID: PMC8850648.

Ramirez-Calderon G, Colombo G, Hernandez-Bautista CA, Astro V, Adamo A. Heart in a Dish: From Traditional 2D Differentiation Protocols to Cardiac Organoids. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2022 Feb 17;10:855966. PMID: 35252213; PMCID: PMC8893312.

Alowaysi M, Astro V, Fiacco E, Alzahrani F, Alkuraya FS, Adamo A. Generation of iPSC lines (KAUSTi011-A, KAUSTi011-B) from a Saudi patient with epileptic encephalopathy carrying homozygous mutation in the GLP1R gene. Stem Cell Res. 2020 Dec 28;50:102148. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33421754.

 Astro V, Adamo A. Epigenetic Control of Endocrine Pancreas Differentiation in vitro: Current Knowledge and Future Perspectives. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2018 Oct 25;6:141. PMID: 30410880; PMCID: PMC6209628.


Additional publications

Alowaysi M*, Fiacco E*, Astro V, Adamo A. Establishment of iPSC lines from a high-grade Klinefelter Syndrome patient (49-XXXXY) and two genetically matched healthy relatives (KAUSTi003-A, KAUSTi004-A, KAUSTi004-B, KAUSTi005-A, KAUSTi005-B, KAUSTi005-C). Stem Cell Res. 2020 Dec;49:102008. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2020.102008. PMID: 32987351. *Co-authors

Fiacco E*, Alowaysi M*, Astro V, Adamo A. Derivation of two naturally isogenic iPSC lines (KAUSTi006-A and KAUSTi006-B) from a mosaic Klinefelter Syndrome patient (47-XXY/46-XY). Stem Cell Res. 2020 Dec;49:102049. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2020.102049. PMID: 33096382. *Co-authors

Alowaysi M*, Fiacco E*, Astro V, Adamo A. Establishment of an iPSC cohort from three unrelated 47-XXY Klinefelter Syndrome patients (KAUSTi007-A, KAUSTi007-B, KAUSTi009-A, KAUSTi009-B, KAUSTi010-A, KAUSTi010-B). Stem Cell Res. 2020 Dec;49:102042. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2020.102042. PMID: 33068889. *Co-authors

Alowaysi M*, Fiacco E*, Astro V, Adamo A. Generation of two iPSC lines (KAUSTi001-A, KAUSTi002-A) from a rare high-grade Klinefelter Syndrome patient (49-XXXXY) carrying a balanced translocation t(4,11) (q35,q23). Stem Cell Res. 2020 Dec;49:102098. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2020.102098. PMID: 33254093. *Co-authors

Fiacco E*, Alowaysi M*, Astro V, Adamo A. Generation of an iPSC cohort of isogenic iPSC lines (46-XY and 47-XXY) from a non-mosaic Klinefelter Syndrome patient (47-XXY) (KAUSTi008-A, KAUSTi008-B, KAUSTi008-C, KAUSTi008-D, KAUSTi008-E, KAUSTi008-F, KAUSTi008-G). Stem Cell Res. 2020 Dec 10;50:102119. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2020.102119. PMID: 33333453. *Co-authors

Alam T*, Alazmi M*, Naser R*, Huser F*, Momin AA*, Astro V, Hong SB, Walkiewicz KW, Canlas CG , Huser RG, Ali AJ, Merzaban J, Adamo A, Jaremko M, Jaremko L, Bajic VB, Gao X, Arold ST. Proteome-level assessment of origin, prevalence and function of Leucine-Aspartic Acid (LD) motifs. Bioinformatics. 2020 Feb 15;36(4):1121-1128. *Co-authors

Franchi SA, Macco R, Astro V, Tonoli D, Savino E, Valtorta F, Sala K, Botta M, de Curtis I. A Method to Culture GABAergic Interneurons Derived from the Medial Ganglionic Eminence. Front Cell Neurosci. 2018 Jan 8;11:423.

Franchi SA*, Astro V*, Macco R, Tonoli D, Barnier JV, Botta M, de Curtis I. Identification of a Protein Network Driving Neuritogenesis of MGE-Derived GABAergic Interneurons. Front Cell Neurosci. 2016 Dec 21;10:289. *Co-authors

Astro V, Tonoli D, Chiaretti S, Badanai S, Sala K, Zerial M, de Curtis I. Liprin-α1 and ERC1 control cell edge dynamics by promoting focal adhesion turnover. Scientific Report. 2016 Sep 23;6:33653.

Chiaretti S*, Astro V*, Chiricozzi E and de Curtis I. Effects of the scaffold proteins liprin-α1, β1 and β2 on invasion by breast cancer cells. Biol Cell. 2016 Mar;108(3):65-75. *Co-authors

Pennucci R*, Talpo F*, Astro V, Montinaro V, Morè L, Cursi M, Castoldi V, Chiaretti S, Bianchi V, Marenna S, Cambiaghi M, Tonoli D, Leocani L, Biella G, D'Adamo P, de Curtis I. Loss of Either Rac1 or Rac3 GTPase Differentially Affects the Behavior of Mutant Mice and the Development of Functional GABAergic Networks. Cereb Cortex. 2016 Feb;26(2):873-90. *Co-authors

Astro V and de Curtis I.Plasma membrane–associated platforms: dynamic scaffolds for peripheral signaling. Sci Signal. 2015  Mar 10;8(367)

Astro V, Chiaretti S, Magistrati E, Fivaz ML, de Curtis I.Liprin-a1, ERC1 and LL5 identify a polarized, dynamic compartment implicated in cell migration. J Cell Sci. 2014 Sep 1;127(Pt 17): 3862-76

Totaro A, Astro V, Tonoli D, de Curtis I. Identification of two tyrosine residues required for the intramolecular mechanism implicated in GIT1 activation. PLoS One, 2014 Apr 3;9(4):e93199

Asperti C*, Astro V*, Pettinato E, Paris S, de Curtis I. Biochemical and functional characterization of the interaction between liprin-α1 and GIT1: implications for the regulation of cell motility. PLoS One, 2011;6(6):e20757. *Co-authors

Astro V, Asperti C, Cangi MG, Doglioni C, de Curtis I. Liprin-a1 regulates breast cancer cell invasion by affecting cell motility, invadopodia, and extracellular matrix degradation. Oncogene, 2011 Apr 14;30(15):1841-9

Asperti C, Astro V, Totaro A, Paris S, de Curtis I. Liprin-a1 promotes cell spreading on the extracellular matrix by affecting the distribution of activated integrins. J Cell Sci. 2009 Sep 15; 122: 3225-32.





  • (2013) PhD in Molecular Medicine, Section of Biology and Biotherapy of cancer Vita-Salute San Raffaele University (Milan, Italy)
  • (2007) Master degree in Medical Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine
    University of Milan (Milan, Italy)
  • (2005) Bachelor degree in Medical Biotechnology
    University of Milan (Milan, Italy)

Professional Profile

2019-present: Research Scientist, KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology), Laboratory of Stem Cells and Diseases, Saudi Arabia


2016-2019: Postdoctoral Researcher, KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology), Laboratory of Stem Cells and Diseases, Saudi Arabia


2014-2016: Postdoctoral fellow, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Division of Neuroscience, Milan, Italy


2014: EMBO short-term postdoctoral fellow, Max Planck Institute for Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany


2012: Visiting Ph.D. Student, DUKE-NUS Medical School, National University of Singapore, Division of Neuroscience and behavioral disorders, Singapore


2008-2010: Predoctoral fellow, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Cell adhesion Unit, Division of Neuroscience, Milan, Italy

Scientific and Professional Membership

ISSCR (International society of stem cells research)
ABCD Society (Italian Association of Cell Biology and Differentiation)


2017: Travel Grant from the ABCD Society to attend the “Congress of Italian Association of Cell Biology and Differentiation” (Bologna, Italy, 21-23 September)

2014: Travel Grant from the ABCD Society to attend the “Cell biology of disease: Cancer” meeting

2014: EMBO Short-term fellowship (2014.03 – 2014.10)

2010-2013: Italian Foundation for cancer research (FIRC) Long-term fellowship

2010: Winner of the Runner-up poster prize at 1st Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Conference, Manchester (UK)

2009: Travel Grant from the ABCD Society to attend the “Mechanism of signal transduction meeting”

KAUST Affiliations

Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division (BESE)

KAUST Environmental Epigenetics Program (KEEP)

Research Interests Keywords

Stem Cells Differentiation Epigenetics Genome Editing Cell Biology