I started my career in Biology obtaining a BTEC in Microbiology and Chemistry at the Institute "Duca D'Aosta" and then I was awarded a BSc (Hons) in Molecular Biology from the Università Roma Tre, both institutes located in Rome (Italy). The experimental thesis for the BSc was carried out at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (the Italian National Institute of Health, in Rome again) in the Laboratory of Arbovirology led by Dr Maria Grazia Ciufolini, having as a referent Prof. Elisabetta Affabris (Chair of Virology) with a project focused on the characterization of the nucleic variation of the genome of Toscana virus (Bunyaviridae).
I then increased my expertise in Virology working as volunteer in the Laboratory of Virology of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases "Lazzaro Spallanzani" (Rome) led by Prof. Maria Rosaria Capobianchi. Here, under the supervision of Dr Antonino Di Caro and Ms Roberta Chiappini, I had the opportunity to work with viruses such as Influenza H1N1, SARS, Rift Valley and Dengue in Biosafety Level 3 facilities alongside increasing my expertise in PCR, ELISA, tissue culture and other immunological techniques.
I then moved to Malta, where I first worked at the "St Lukes" hospital and then at the "Mater Dei" hospital as Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) in several diagnostic units which included Virology, Bacteriology, Histopathology and Haematology. Here I obtained the registration in the European Lists as MLS.
I was then selected for a PhD program held by the University College London (UCL) and hosted by the "Health Protection Agency" (HPA, currently "Public Health England"), Centre for Infections, Colindale, (UK). The UCL supervisor was Prof. Vincent Emery, currently at the University of Surrey. The project was aimed at the evaluation of candidate biomarkers based on the Human Papillomavirus genome for the identification of cervical cancer precursors; these included viral load, CpG methylation within the viral genome and the proportion of integration of the virus within a sample. The project gave me also the pleasure of collaborating with Prof. Clementina Cocuzza, Università of Milano Bicocca, for a longitudinal study on HPV which was part of my doctoral work.
While completing the drafting of my PhD I worked (first as locum agent, then as Research Technician and Research Assistant) in the Laboratory of Prof. Ajit Lalvani, namely the Tuberculosis Research Centre of the Imperial College London at the St Mary's Campus. This position gave me the opportunity, under the supervision of Dr Melanie Rees-Roberts, to strengthen my independence as a scientist, to increase my knowledge in immunology and my expertise in techniques such as flow cytometry and proteomics. At the same time I maintained and improved the clinical database of the unit and managed the collection and reception of samples and assessed the ethical requirements for the recruitment of patients for a clinical study focused on Influenza virus. Again with Influenza, I assisted Dr Saranya Shrindar, currently at the University of Oxford, in a work set to address the immune response to Influenza virus.
My doctoral dissertation was discussed on the St Valentine day 2014 under the scrutiny of Prof. Tim McHugh (UCL) and Dr John Cason (Kings College London).
I worked as Research Associate in the Drumright's Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, Department of Medicine. One area of research was focused on the phylogenetic analysis of norovirus genomes by Next Generation Sequences to model the route of transmission of the infection. Another area of the project was a prevalence study of gastrointestinal diseases using TaqMan Light Density Array (TLDA), in partnership with the PHE, to assess the efficacy of the largest panel yet implemented for the detection of gastroenteritis.
I am currently working as Research Fellow in the Opriessnig Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh, Department of Veterinary Sciences.
Proportion of transcriptionally active DNA virus integrants : a meta-analysis