My Research Journey

Education

After high school graduation I enrolled in Biological Science to pursue my bachelor of science (B.Sc.). They were four intense and formative years characterized by interesting courses such as physiology, developmental biology, biochemistry, and molecular biology. After the accomplishment of the B.Sc. I felt the need to expand my studies with something new, but at the same time linked to my knowledge in the field of biology. I then enrolled in Biomolecular Chemistry to pursue my master of science (M.Sc.), still at the University of Catania. This was one of the best choices of my life, in fact, the two years of the M.Sc. allowed me to study the biological processes from a different point of view and strengthen my knowledge of chemistry.

In the Italian system, courses are graded with a maximum of 30 points. Students may be awarded 30/30 with honors for exemplary work beyond the course requirements. My average score at the end of the B.Sc. and M.Sc. were 27.53 and 28.99, respectively. I have earned both B.Sc. and M.Sc. with a maximum grade of 110/110 with honors.

Research steps

 

International PhD in Neurobiology

November 2009 – February 2014

During my PhD in Neurobiology under the supervision of Prof. Vincenzo Nicoletti I was part of “Athenaeum Research Projects”: Glication, oligomerization and toxicity of amyloid peptides. In this project I followed the in vitro process of aggregation of amyloid peptides (amyloid-β and human amylin) and evaluated their toxicity on different cell lines, by relating the cell viability to the formation of β-sheet or oligomeric structures in solutions…

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International Internship Programme Scholarship

Postdoc in Medicinal Chemistry

November 2014 – June 2015

During this postdoctoral research experience, where I have been part of Prof. Sunil A. David at the University of Kansas (KU), I have taken part in different projects related to vaccine adjuvant design and development as well as to the investigation of the molecular mechanisms of host responses to pathogens with emphasis on innate immunity and inflammatory responses to bacterial products. I have performed a range of experiments and techniques…

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Postoc in Pharmaceutical Chemistry

July 2015 – June 2016

During research experience at the University of Kansas (KU) as a postdoc in Prof. Lunte’s group, I have been given the opportunity to work on the development and use of analytical methods to identify and quantify reactive nitrogen and oxygen species (RNOS), produced by various immune, neuronal, and cancer cell lines, under pro-inflammatory conditions. I have been responsible for maintaining all cell lines and I also developed…

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Fellow on the American Heart Association

July 2016 – July 2017

In 2016 I obtained a prestigious and very competitive American Heart Association (AHA) Fellowship (total budget: 98950$). I was the Principal Investigator of the project entitled “Role of carnosine in regulation of production of RNOS by macrophages”. The ultimate goal of this project was to investigate the possible protective role of carnosine on reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RNOS) and pro-inflammatory markers…

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Senior Reasercher at Oasi Research Institute

August 2017 – May 2020

In August 2017 I moved from United States to my home country and accepted to cover the position of senior researcher at the Oasi Research Institute – IRCCS (Troina). This was a great opportunity, allowing me to work with Prof. Filippo Caraci, a Professor with whom I was already collaborating from the previous year, and to continue pursuing my major interest in investigating the protective effects of carnosine against…

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Senior Researcher Associate at University of Catania

June 2020 – December 2022

From June 2020 to December 2021, I held a Senior Researcher Associate position in Prof. Filippo Caraci Group, at the Department of Drug and Health Sciences, University of Catania. The research group also included Margherita Grasso (PhD student) and Annamaria Fidilio (Postdoc). The research activity of our group covered multidisciplinary aspects of molecular and clinical pharmacology as well as of toxicology, with particular attention given to the investigation of the neurobiological link between Alzheimer’s disease and depression to identify new pharmacological targets and novel neuroprotection strategies.

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Assistant Professor at University of Catania

January 2022 – today

Since January 2022 I have been holding the position of Assistant Professor (BIO/14 – Pharmacology) at the Department of Drug and Health Sciences, University of Catania. My research activity mainly focuses on the development and application of innovative microfluidic-based technologies for drug discovery in AD (identification and validation of new pharmacological target in in vitro and ex vivo AD models) as well as for early diagnosis of cognitive disorders in AD (detection and quantification of plasma biomarkers)…

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