Francesca graduated in pharmaceutical chemistry (Master's degree) at the University of Bologna in 1998. After a year spent as a junior fellow at the Istituto Mario Negri, she joined the group of Peer Bork at the EMBL in Heidelberg. There she worked in comparative genomics and phylogenetics. Francesca got her PhD in Natural Science at the University of Heidelberg in 2003 and she stayed as a postdoctoral fellow in the Bork group until 2005. She then moved to Milan to establish her own research group at the European Institute of Oncology (IEO). At IEO, her group developed a systems-level approach to study cancer genes and also started to produce and analyse high throughput cancer genomic data.
In 2014 Francesca joined King's College London as Associate Professor (Reader) in Cancer Genomics and Bioinformatics. Since 2015, she coordinates the quantitative Genomics, Epigenomics and Biobank Programme in the Division of Cancer Studies at King's. She has been a seconded Principal Investigator at the Francis Crick Institute since 2017 and was made Professor of Cancer Genomics at King's College London in 2018.