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About

I am a postdoctoral researcher in Virology and Molecular Immunology with a background in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry. My broad background reflects my natural curiosity and my passion for science.

 

Current project:

Hepatoma cell line infected with YF-17D.

In humans, YFV primarily targets the liver and replicates in hepatocytes. The pathological changes occurring in the liver during wild-type YFV infection are poorly characterized. The aim of this work is to investigate the signalling pathways and subsequent cytokine response from human hepatocytes infected with several wild-type strains or the vaccine (17D-204) strain of YFV. Ultimately, our goal is to reveal the molecular basis of the difference between specific strains. This could be key to understand the attenuation of virulence observed with the YFV-17D, and possibly other related viruses.

 

Past project:

Gen2.2 on infected Vero cell
PDC-like Gen2.2 cell on infected Vero cell.

Despite representing a rare cell type in the immune system, plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are the most important source of type I IFN in response to viral infection. The canonical model of pDC activation states that pDCs respond to RNA viruses exclusively through TLR7. We showed that replication of the yellow fever live vaccine YF-17D in human pDCs and pDC-like cell lines stimulated type I IFN production through RIG-I (retinoic acid–inducible gene I), a member of the RIG-I–like receptor (RLR) family of cytosolic PRRs. Thus, human pDCs sense replicative viral RNA. In contrast, direct contact between pDCs and YF-17D–infected cells stimulated a TLR7-dependent, viral replication–independent production of type I IFN. We also showed that the RLR pathway was dampened by the activities of interleukin-1 receptor–associated kinases 1 and 4 (IRAK1 and IRAK4), which are downstream effectors of the TLR7 pathway, suggesting that both kinases play opposing roles downstream of specific PRRs. Together, these data suggest that a virus can stimulate either TLR or RLR signaling in the same cell, depending on how its nucleic acid content is delivered.

CV

Work experience

February 2013- to date: Postdoctoral Researcher

Description: I’m working in the “Viral Genomics and Vaccination” Unit to delineate the innate immune mechanisms involved in the host response against Yellow fever virus and other viruses.

August 2015: Group Leader and WHO Consultant

I was employed for a month in a mission to fight the Ebola epidemic as Head of the Pasteur Institut Ebola Diagnosis Laboratory of Macenta, Guinea. I also contributed to the field work related to surveillance and response activities, under the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) umbrella.

October 2008- October 2012: Ph.D. Candidate and Laboratory Demonstrator

Description: I concluded 4-year Ph.D. Programme in Immunology, which took place in The Institute of Immunology (NUI Maynooth, Ireland). The title of my Ph.D. thesis is: “Investigating the role of IRAK1 in Toll-like receptor (TLR) signalling pathways”. Alongside my Ph.D. research, I’ve been demonstrating Biology laboratory classes to BSc. students,  helping and guiding them during practical sessions.

December 2007 – June 2008: Apprentice Pharmacist

Description: I carried out a 6-month practical training in an approved establishment under the supervision of a tutor pharmacist, in order to enter the Licence Examination, which was successfully passed within July 2008.

Name and address of employer: Pharmacy Dr. Esposito V., Rome, Italy.

October 2006 – October 2007: Research Associate

Description: The research for my Master’s thesis was conducted in the framework of a research apprenticeship in Sigma-Tau S.p.A.. The title of my thesis is: “Screening of active molecules modulating the pro-inflammatory pathway mediated by TLR/IL-1R activation”.

Name and address of employer: Sigma-Tau S.p.A, Pomezia, Italy.

Education

October 2008- October 2012: Ph.D. in Immunology, NUIM, Maynooth, Ireland.

December 2007 – June 2008: Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), Sapienza University of Rome and Pharmacy Dr. Esposito V., Rome, Italy.

November 2000 – November 2007: M.Sc. in Industrial Pharmacy (Chimica e Tecnologia Farmaceutiche), Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. Final mark: 110/110.

September 1995- July 2000: Diploma, Liceo Scientifico “Aristotele”, Roma, Italy. Final mark: 100/100 summa cum laude.

  

Language skills

Mother tongue: Italian                

Other languages: English (bilingual), French (basic working proficiency)

 

 

Publications

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