- Wade-Martins Group Research Group
My research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s Disease (PD) using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) differentiated to dopaminergic neurons (iPSC-derived DAn), the most vulnerable neuronal type in PD. iPSCs are derived via reprogramming of fibroblasts from both PD patients and healthy individual; these cells can then be differentiated to DAn using a validated protocol.
The main advantage of using this technology is the fact that iPSC-derived DAn are the exact neuronal cell type affected by PD in vivo, normally inaccessible until post mortem, and carry the genetic background the predisposes an individual to develop PD.
As part of my DPhil project, I am using iPSCs from PD-patients carrying the A53T SNCA (a-Synuclein) and age-matched individuals. a-Synuclein plays a key role in PD, with intracellular aggregates of this protein in DAn being the hallmark of PD, but its function and pathological mechanisms are still unknown. My primary focuses are the effects of this mutant version of a-Synuclein on various intracellular pathways, from autophagy to mitochondrial homeostasis. I am also developing a lentiviral system for the knock-down of this protein in order to investigate its role not only in pathological mechanisms but also its function in a normal cellular context.
I obtained a Bachelor’s level degree in Molecular Biology in 2010 and a Master’s Level degree in Health Biology in 2012 from the University of Padua, Italy.
I joined the Wade-Martins group in 2013 as a Research Assistant founded by StemBANCC.
I started my DPhil in Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics under the supervision of Dr Wade-Martins and Dr Sally Cowley in October 2013, working on iPSC-derived dopaminergic neurons carrying mutations in the SNCA gene.