I am a passionate researcher with a wide-ranging research experience. As an undergraduate student in Italy, I sequenced the sunflower mitochondrial DNA and during my PhD, I characterized thyroid-specific transcription factors. I studied the dopaminergic system during my first postdoctoral experience at the IGBMC in Strasbourg, France. During these early years, I was highly productive. However, my fruitful experiences helped me realize Science is not about publications. The real excitement is to investigate the unknown, to make original discoveries. Research that aims at incremental discoveries may be easier but it is certainly not exciting. I had the opportunity to test myself during my second postdoctoral training (Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, USA). My project was centered on understanding the biological role of inositol pyrophosphates (PP-IPs). In one year I managed to biochemically purify the enzymatic activity from rat brain and to clone the inositol hexakisphosphate kinase (named IP6K), thereby opening a new scientific field.
In summer of 2004, I moved to London to establish my independent laboratory. My laboratory mainly studies cell signaling events mediated by PP-IPs and has substantially contributed to the establishment of this class of molecules as fundamental cellular messengers. We initially proposed, and subsequently provided fundamental evidence, that PP-IPs lie at the interface between cell metabolism and cell signaling, thereby playing a key role in regulating cellular energetics. To understand how PP-IPs regulate basic metabolism we have focused our attention on phosphate homeostasis discovering that PP-IPs regulate the metabolism of inorganic polyphosphates (polyP) the linear chain of phosphate. This was an innovative and highly influential concept that we helped to establish.
Another strength of my laboratory is based on my strongly believe that the generation of new analytical methods represents a fundamental aspect of scientific innovations, Therefore, my laboratory has contributed a number of technological advances that have been instrumental in propelling PP-IPs into mainstream research. For example, the PP-IPs PAGE analysis allows the detection of these molecules by simple toluidine staining. The new TiO2 based inositol phosphates purification protocol we developed is opening previously unforeseen research opportunities in my lab and elsewhere around the world.
Finally, I strongly believe that science is an open enterprise and my laboratory freely shares published and unpublished data, protocols, tools, and reagents. This attitude together with our distinctive theoretical and technical expertise has contributed to the high standing achieved by my research group.