Throughout my career I focused on understanding the cellular mechanisms underlying principles of gene expression and cell identity, aiming to shed light on the basic principles that govern these processes, both in physiological and pathological conditions.
During my PhD I worked in an RNA laboratory at Columbia University in New York where I was involved in the proteomic purification of the pre-mRNA 3’-end processing complex that led to the discovery of several novel proteins that connect mRNA processing with various nuclear pathways. I then characterized in depth the functions of PARP1 and RBBP6 (implicated in DNA damage repair and cancer) unraveling their molecular mechanism of action within the context of pre-mRNA modification (specifically 3’-end cleavage and polyadenylation).
During my postdoc at Weill Cornell Medicine, I explored the fields of epigenetics and chromatin conformation. Using advanced NGS techniques (such as Hi-C, HiChIP, RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, ATAC-seq etc) and a variety of CRISPR-based technologies I dissected the interplay between transcription factors, histone modifications and chromatin conformation changes during somatic cell reprogramming from mouse embryonic fibroblasts to induced pluripotent cells, and integrated this data with transcriptional changes at different stages of reprogramming. More recently, as a research associate at Cornell I expanded this line of research to patient-derived glioma stem cells (GSC) building the first atlas of 3D promoter-enhancer (prom-enh) contacts in order to identify and target tumor-specific 3D enhancer hubs (manuscript in preparation).
As a researcher in IIT I will develop original technologies and apply existing cutting edge genomics, proteomics, epigenetic engineering tools as well as advanced chromatin topology assays in cancer stem cells, in order to determine the role of ncRNAs and their epitranscriptional modifications in the organization of the 3D genome, with a specific focus on prom-enh loops.