School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Professor Francesco Pennacchio

Visiting Professor


Francesco Pennacchio is Professor of Entomology at the University of Napoli “Federico II” (Italy), Visiting Professor at Newcastle University, and coordinator of an international network of PhD Schools in “Insect Science”. He is member of the Italian National Academy of Entomology, and currently serves as President of the Italian Entomological Society (Società Entomologica Italiana). He is co-editor in chief of “Journal of Insect Physiology”. In 1989 he received a PhD in Entomology, at the University of Napoli “Federico II”, for his research on parasitic Hymenoptera biology, on which he continued to focus as visiting scientist (1989-1991) at Texas A&M University (College Station, TX, USA). The study of the molecular physiology of insect parasitoids and of the interactions with their victims and host plants is at the core of his research interests, along with biotechnologies for insect control that can be developed based on this knowledge. He is internationally recognized for his work on insect immunity and immunosuppression strategies by parasites and pathogens, and on how environmental stress can alter insect immunocompetence. In 2013 he was awarded the Cozzarelli Prize by the National Academy of Sciences of USA for his work on elucidating the molecular mechanism through which the neonicotinoid clothianidin adversely affects the insect immune response and promotes replication of a viral pathogen in honeybees bearing covert infections. This work sheds new light on a further level of regulation of the immune response in insects and has implications for bee conservation.

Franco is actively involved in both teaching (UG and PGT) and research within the School. He collaborates with Prof Gatehouse and Dr Edwards on the development of novel biopesticides.