Senior research specialist
I am Assistant Professor and group leader. I have defended my PhD at the University of Bologna in 2011 and did my postdoc at KI. I have been working within the neuroscience field in relation to Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) since my PhD and my work is based on investigating the mechanisms for risk factors for Alzheimer's Disease with special focus on ApoE, cholesterol metabolism and oxysterols. I have extensive knowledge in the field of mouse behavior and mouse models of neurodegenerative disease and I am Facility Coordinator for the Animal Behavior Core Facility (ABCF) at KI. In addition, I have deep knowledge on a large variety of molecular biology techniques. This makes possible to combine my studies in the most translational way, from in vitro to in vivo models and finally in human samples.
My research is focused on understanding the biological mechanisms behind risk factors for Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and aging.
Cholesterol metabolism and oxysterols
I work on cholesterol metabolism and its role in neurodegenerative processes. Specifically, I study the effects and functions of oxidized metabolites of cholesterol such as 24-S-hydroxycholesterol, 25-hydroxycholesterol and 27-hydroxycholesterol in brain by using in vitro models, mouse models and human samples. I study behavior of mouse models for cholesterol metabolism, i.e. mice overexpressing Cyp46A1, Cyp27A1 and Cyp27 Knock Out mice. Until now we have shown key-roles of oxysterols in cognitive functions: while increased levels of 24-hydroxycholesterol show beneficial effects on memory and synaptic plasticity, accumulation of 27-hydroxycholesterol in brain leads to cognitive decline.
Polypharmacy (the concurrent use of 5 or more drugs) and inappropriate drug use are very common in old age and they have been associated with hospitalization and mortality. Particularly vulnerable are dementia patients who are especially sensitive to adverse effects of drugs. With our research we aim to discover mechanisms and biomarkers of adverse events to multiple medication use in mouse models for aging and AD.