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Raffaella Spina, PhD

Academic Title:

Research Associate

Primary Appointment:


Additional Title:

Research Associate

Education and Training

2011 - 2012 Pathology Trainee, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Pathology

2008 - 2012 Ph.D., Molecular Oncology, Experimental Immunology and Development of innovative therapies 

2005 - 2007 M.S., Health Biotechnologies Federico II University of Naples, School of Medicine, Italy (Magna Cum Laude)

2002 - 2005 B.S., Medical Biotechnologies, Federico II University of Naples, School of Medicine, Italy



Medical biotechnologies-based educational background, with specific skills related to cancer biology, stem cells, pre-clinical drug studies.

Research/Clinical Keywords

1. Cellular adaptation to hypoxia and nutrient deprivation orchestrated by hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs) and the Monocarboxylate Transporter-4 (MCT4). 2. Crosstalk between microenvironmental factors and “stemness” signaling pathways. 3. Mechanisms of microenvironmentally acquired resistance to therapy.

Highlighted Publications


  1. Raffaella Spina, Dillon M. Voss, Xiaohua Yang, Jason W. Sohn, Robert Vinkler, Julianna Schraner, Anthony Sloan, Scott M. Welford, Norbert Avril, Eli E. Bar. Monocarboxylate Transporter-4 Inhibition Promotes DNA Damage, Inhibits Self-Renewal, and Cooperates with Radiation in Glioblastoma Stem Cells. Neuro-oncology Advances
  2. Brittany Aguila; Adina Brett-Morris; Raffaella Spina; Eli Bar; Julie Schraner; Robert Vinkler; Jason Sohn; The Ig superfamily protein PTGFRN coordinates survival signaling in Glioblastoma multiforme. Cancer Lett. 2019 Aug 1;462:33-42. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2019.07.018
  3. Gayle SS, Sahni JM, Webb BM, Weber-Bonk KL, Shively MS, Spina R, Bar EE, Summers MK, Keri RA. Targeting BCL-xL improves the efficacy of bromodomain and extra-terminal protein inhibitors in triple-negative breast cancer by eliciting the death of senescent cells. J Biol Chem. 2018 Nov 27. pii: jbc.RA118.004712. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.004712
  4. Spina, R., Voss, D. M., Asnaghi, L., Sloan, A., Bar, E. E. Flow Cytometry-based Drug Screening System for the Identification of Small Molecules That Promote Cellular Differentiation of Glioblastoma Stem Cells. J. Vis. Exp. (131), e56176, doi:10.3791/56176 (2018).
  5. Nathaniel Boyd, Kiera Walker, Joshua Fried, James Hackney, Paul McDonald, Gloria Benavides, Raffaella Spina, Alessandra Audia, Sarah Scott, Catherine Libby, Anh Tran, Mark Bevensee, Corinne Griguer, Susan E. Nozell, G. Yancey Gillespie, Burt Nabors, Krishna P. Bhat, Eli Bar, Victor Darley-Usmar, Bo Xu, Emily Gordon, Sara J. Cooper, Shoukat Dedhar, Anita Hjelmeland. Addition of the Carbonic Anhydrase IX Inhibitor SLC-0111 to Temozolomide Treatment Delays Glioblastoma Growth in vivo. December 2017 Journal of Clinical Investigation 2(24)DOI10.1172/jci.insight.92928
  6. Voss DM, Spina R, Carter DL, Lim KS, Jeffery CJ, Bar EE. Disruption of the monocarboxylate transporter-4-Basigin interaction inhibits the hypoxic response, proliferation, and tumor progression. Sci Rep.2017 Jun 27;7(1):4292. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-04612-w.
  7. Spina R, Voss MD, Asnaghi L, Sloan A, Bar EE. Atracurium Besylate and Other Neuromuscular Blocking Agents Promote Astroglial Differentiation and Deplete Glioblastoma Stem Cell Oncotarget.2016 Jan 5;7(1):459-72. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.6314.
  8. Chiarella E, Carrà G, Scicchitano S, Codispoti B, Mega T, Lupia M, Pelaggi D, Marafioti, Spina R, Moore M AS, Bond HM, Mesuraca M, Morrone. UMG Lenti: novel lentiviral vectors for efficient transgene- and reporter gene expression in human early hematopoietic progenitors. PLoS One.2014 Dec 12;9(12):e114795. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114795.
  9. Brett-Morris A, Wright BM, Seo Y, Pasupuleti V, Zhang J, Lu J, Spina R, Bar EE, Gujrati M, Schur R, Lu ZR, Welford SM. The polyamine catabolic enzyme SAT1 modulates tumorigenesis and radiation response in GBM. Cancer Res. 2014 Oct 2. pii: canres.1249.2014.
  10. Spina R, Filocamo G, . Critical role of zinc finger protein 521 in the control of growth, clonogenicity and tumorigenic potential of medulloblastoma cells. 2013 Aug;4(8):1280-92.
  11. Mega T, Lupia M, Amodio N, Horton SJ, Mesuraca M, Pelaggi D, Agosti V, Grieco M, Chiarella E, Spina R, Moore MAS, Schuringa JJ, Bond HM, Morrone G. Zinc finger protein 521 antagonizes early B-cell factor 1 and modulates the B-lymphoid differentiation of primary hematopoietic progenitor Cell Cycle, 10 (13) July 1, 2011.

Awards and Affiliations

  • Certificate of research excellence – UMGCC Cancer Research day, University of Maryland September 17th, 2019;
  • Award for Drug Discovery & Development Article of the Year - SLAS 2018 Meeting February 5, San Diego, California -USA;
  • AACR-Millennium Scholar-in-Training Award: AACR Annual Meeting April 1 2017, Washington, DC, - USA;
  • Award for the Post-doctoral fellow/scholar competition at the Research ShowCASE, April 2016 Cleveland, OH, USA;
  • Award for best poster in Translational Research. Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. Annual Scientific Retreat July 11th 2014, Cleveland, OH, USA;
  • AACR-Millennium Scholar-in-Training Award: The Takeda Oncology Company. AACR Annual Meeting April 5 2014, 2014, San Diego, CA – USA;
  • Award for excellence in translational research. 4th Annual Department of Pathology Young Investigators’ Day April 26th, 2012, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore MD, USA;
  • Poster selected for oral presentation by the EMBO editors. The EMBO meeting 4-7 Sept 2010, Barcelona Spain

Lab Techniques and Equipment

Cell culture: Experience with complex culture systems including stem cell, primary tumor cells isolation from clinical or preclinical specimens (glioma stem cells); Establishment of organoids from glioblastoma patient tissues in normoxic and hypoxic conditions

Other cell lines experience: MCF-7, MDA-MB1 (breast cancer), HEK293FT (for virus production), Jurkat, K562, RAW (Blood), MG-63 (Osteosarcoma), DAOY, UW228 (Medulloblastoma); hNSCs (human neural stem cells) and Astrocytes.

Experience with common tissue culture techniques including viral transduction and DNA/siRNA transfection to generate stable cell lines; genome CRISPR-Cas9 system and AAV production; Transient Lentiviral transfection using Neon electroporation system (Invitrogen)

In vitro functional assays: Clonogenic assay (in soft agar and in methylcellulose, quantification using Gelcount imaging system from Oxford optronix), in vitro migration, invasion and comet assay.  Experience with HTS drug screening (small molecule drug libraries), citotoxicity, cell proliferation (MTT, MTS assay and Alamar blue); Cellular imaging using Cytation (5 Biotek), Immunofluorescence, Immunohistochemistry.

Molecular biology: Western blot, co-IP, ELISA, DNA and RNA extraction, PCR, RTPCR,


Flow Cytometry: Guava 5HT, Attune, Cytek Aurora, Cell sorting with BD FACSaria;

In vitro functional assays: T cell differentiation, polarization, cytokine secretion,

killing and degranulation; characterization of cells for adoptive cell therapy;

Animal models (planning and analyzing): glioblastoma mouse models for the preclinical studies. Subcutaneous and orthotopic xenografts; Intraperitoneal and intravenous drug administration; Bioluminescence imaging using IVIS spectrum;

Computer skills: Excellent command of Microsoft Office tools; Prism Graphpad;

Microsoft Illustrator; FlowJo; ImageJ.

Courses and certifications

  • Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Clinical Research 2019-2020 – NIH (National Institute of Health). Areas of clinical research covered: biostatistical and epidemiological methods, study design, protocol development, clinical trial implementation, data monitoring and auditing, quality assurance, ethical and legal issues. (July- August 2020)
  • Introduction to Clinical and Translational Research Course at UMB (August 2020)


  • Board Certification in Biology. University of Naples, Italy (2007)