I was born in 1985 in Catanzaro, a town located in the south of Italy. My strong interest in science began when I was a child showing significant interest for the human body and its fascinating structure. I studied science attending the Experimental High School "Enrico Fermi" in Catanzaro Lido (5 years) where I had the possibility to study general science: Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Geology, Chemistry but also classic subjects as Latin, Italian, Philosophy, English, and French literature. After receiving my scientific diploma, I decided to move to Florence where I enrolled in a Bachelor Degree program in Biotechnology (3 years with a 6-month research component) at the University of Florence.
bachelor degree in biotechnology and master degree in medical biotechnology (university of florence, Italy)
During the three years of Bachelor Degree, I studied a variety of scientific subjects, specializing in the medical biotechnology field. During that time I revealed a particular interest in research, and I started to attend the research laboratory of Associate Professor Pietro Amedeo Modesti (M.D., Ph.D.). I was allocated in the group working on human cardiomyocytes. As a first step, I learned how to isolate myocytes together with standard procedures to obtain a primary culture of cardiomyocytes (in rats). After gaining the skill to perform experiments alone, I started to work on human cardiomyocytes actively participating in the first study investigating the role of ERK in human heart failure (J.Hypertens. 2008;26:2030-9). I received my Bachelor Degree in Biotechnology defending the thesis "Alterations of the intracellular signal of Angiotensin II in cardiac injuries: the ERK 1/2 pathway" supervisor Prof. Pietro Amedeo Modesti.
After receiving my Bachelor Degree in Biotechnology I enrolled in a Master Degree program in Medical Biotechnology (2 years- 1-year research component) specifically focused on reproductive cancers, infertility and cutting edges science in assisted reproduction. During that time, Associate Professor Elisabetta Baldi (Ph.D.) asked me to join her lab to develop my thesis. I attended her research laboratory for a 12 months period studying the sperm DNA fragmentation in varicocele patients. During my staying in the laboratory of the Andrology Unit of the University of Florence, I learned several techniques besides assessment of sperm DNA fragmentation with the newly developed TUNEL/PI flow cytometric method, including how to perform semen analysis, how to prepare sperm for assisted reproduction techniques, but also classical biochemistry techniques such as western blot analysis, and molecular biology techniques as RNA and DNA extraction, RT-PCR, and methods of screening for genetic of male infertility. I received my Master Degree in Medical Biotechnology defending the thesis "Sperm DNA fragmentation and M540 bodies levels in patients with varicocele: clinical, ultrasound correlates and outcome of varicocelectomy" supervisors Prof. Elisabetta Baldi and Dr. Monica Muratori.
Research Assistant (Monash University) 2010-2012- AUSTRALIA
After receiving my Master Degree, I decided to move overseas due to a series of problems affecting the scientific research in Italy. I moved to Monash University, Melbourne where I was offered a position as Research Assistant. I had the pleasure to work for 18 months in the Male Fertility and Biology Lab led by Professor Moira O'Bryan. The experience in O'Bryan lab was extremely productive, in her lab I learned a variety of techniques and I had the possibility to work with senior researchers extremely specialized in different scientific fields. I was also extremely lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth (the uncontaminated Australia!)
Doctorate Degree (university of otago) 2012-2015 - NEW ZEALAND
After the experience in O'Bryan lab, I enrolled as a Ph.D. student at University of Otago working under the supervision of Dr. Elspeth Gold (University of Otago) and Prof. Gail Risbridger (Monash University). During this time, I worked with human tissue microarrays, cell lines and a mouse model of gonadal tumor development and cancer-associated weight loss. I concluded my Ph.D. on April 2015 defending my thesis entitled " Is Activin-Beta C a tumor suppressor in the inhibin-deficient mice?" During my Ph.D., I developed a particular interest in the academia specifically in mentoring undergraduate students and in teaching (as a teaching assistant). I also developed a particular interest in collaborative research, I believe that collaborative research, based on idea's exchange, and aimed to build a community of like-minded scientists, represents a great way to do science. For this reasons, I am always available to help and interact with fellow colleagues. I am very happy to receive suggestions and constructive criticism.
My Ph.D. shaped me professionally and personally. I developed a beautiful professional relationship with my mentors (Elspeth Gold and Gail Risbridger). Elspeth was for me a fantastic teacher and an amazing mentor. Unfortunately, she passed away a few months after my graduation. However, her teachings and lessons are still part of me, and If I enjoy an academic spirit of teaching and sharing it is also thanks to Elspeth. You can read more about Elspeth here .
Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Cleveland Clinic) 2015-2016 - Cleveland, USA
During my postdoctoral experience in the research Lab led by Dr. Nima Sharifi, I contributed to investigating the potential role of the tumor microenvironment's role in the development and maintenance of prostate cancer. My interest was focussed on the steroidogenic profile of prostate cancer cells in vitro. After 1 year of post-doc at Cleveland Clinic, I decided to relocate and move to an academic institution.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Indiana university) 2016-april2017
In 2016 I joined the Pancreatic and Cancer Cachexia/Euhexia Lab led by Assoc. Prof. Teresa Zimmers, where I investigated new molecular mechanisms involved in cancer cachexia. I also contributed to mature projects developed in the laboratory. After 1 year, I felt a profound isolation from both an academic and work environment point of view, I could not find a stimulating environment for both my scientific and academic interests and therefore, I decided to look for an academic position better tailored to my interests.
My two short post-doc experiences taught me a lot. I understood that it is extremely difficult for a graduate student to find the right academic position after the Ph.D. I never wanted to compromise, and I considered my right and duty to keep looking for a postdoctoral training based on the true concept of academia.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow(university of pennsylvania) 2017-present Pennsylvania, USA
On May 2017, I moved to University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine, where I am currently working in the laboratory led by Prof. Lewis Chodosh. The Chodosh laboratory is focused on breast cancer research with a specific interest for dormancy and recurrence.