Nobel Laureate Abel Laureate Advisory Board Member USERN President USERN Policy Making Council USERN Manager USERN Deputy Junior Ambassador

Major: Biology & Biochemistry

Field: Structure and chemistry of biological molecules

I am a tenure-track Assistant Professor at the University of Bologna (Italy) and a Principal Investigator (Head of Biotechnology group) at the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis (LIOS) in Riga (Latvia), where I hold an “ERA-chair” position financed by the European Union through the Horizon 2020 funding scheme. From 2010 to 2019, I was a Group Leader at the Center for Nano Science and Technology of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) in Milano (Italy) as well as an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering of the Politecnico di Milano (Italy) and at the Department of Life Sciences of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italy).

My scientific background is in chemistry, molecular biology and structural biology. I received a M.Sc. and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Bologna in 1990 and 1995, respectively. In 2008, I also obtained a M.Sc. in Epidemiology from Harvard University (Boston, USA). I have held Research Fellow positions at the University of Göttingen (Germany, 1995-1997), at the University of Cambridge (U.K., 1997-2001) and at Harvard University (U.S.A., 2001-2009).

I have been the recipient of a Marie Curie International Reintegration Grant (IRG) from the European Union, as well as other multiple grants from funding agencies (Latvian Science Council, Cariplo Foundation) and industrial partners (Chiesi Pharmaceuticals). So far, I have published more than 110 papers in peer-reviewed international journals (H-index: 33, source Scopus) including Nature, Chemical Society Reviews, Angewandte Chemie, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Proceeding of the National Academy of Science, Immunity, Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of Molecular Biology, Proteins, Scientific Reports, Macromolecules, Biochemistry. I am also the coauthor of three book chapters on solid-state chemistry, structure-based drug design and enzyme engineering.

I am an Editorial Board Member of Crystals (MDPI) and Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences (Frontiers). So far, 7 PhD students, 7 MSc students and numerous BSc students have carried out and successfully completed their thesis in my laboratory under my supervision. I have delivered more than 40 invited talks at international conferences or institutional colloquia. I have held several adjunct professor positions in different universities (Politecnico di Milano, University of Modena e Reggio Emilia, University of Latvia), where I have taught structural and molecular biology courses at the graduate and at the undergraduate level.

I study molecular and supra-molecular structures of both chemical and biological systems using molecular biology, protein chemistry, biophysics and X-ray crystallography techniques. My research interests are mostly at the interface between chemistry and biology and they focus primarily on the study of the interactions between proteins and their ligands, substrates or inhibitors. In particular, I am focusing on the functional and structural characterization of cell-cell adhesion proteins (cadherins) and on several different enzymes (such as oxidoreductases, phosphodiesterases, lyases, kinases and others) for diagnostic, therapeutic and technologic applications. My main areas of research are therefore drug discovery, structural biology, solid-state chemistry, enzyme engineering and bio-hybrid materials.

Over the years, I have also been actively involved with the NGO "Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs" (Nobel Peace Prize 1995) focusing on disarmament issues. In multiple occasions, I have been a member of the Pugwash delegation at UN sessions in Geneva (Switzerland) and at sessions of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague (Netherlands). At the University of Bologna (Italy), I teach a graduate course on disarmament and non-proliferation of chemical and biological weapons. 



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