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Personal profile

Research interests

I am a post-doctoral research fellow working in Dr Melanie Flint’s “stress and cancer” lab in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Science and the Centre for Stress and Age-Related Disease (STRAND) at the University of Brighton. My current research, in collaboration with the oncogenetics team at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), is funded by the Rosetrees Trust and investigates the role of stress hormones in regulating the molecular mechanism of cancer initiation and progression in BRCA mutation carriers. The project focuses on the role of the primary stress hormone cortisol and oxidative stress on DNA damage and repair processes in in vitro models and in patients with or without BRCA mutation.

My research interests also include a study on the effects of the adrenergic stress hormone Noradrenaline on the immune response to cancer. In particular, I am interested in the interface between cancer and immune cells and how the adrenergic signalling can affect cytokine production, PD-L1 expression and the efficacy of immunotherapy in ovarian cancer.

Current projects:

  • Stress hormones in the BRCA mutation carries increase susceptibility to the development of prostate cancer.
  • Cancer metabolism in 3D tumour spheroid models.

Previous projects:

  • Stress and immunotherapy in ovarian cancer. Investigating the adrenergic immune regulation affecting PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors.

Scholarly biography

I received my B.S, and M.Sc. in Medical Biotechnology at “La Sapienza”, University of Rome. My interest in cancer research began during my Master’s degree when I completed a 2 year project on neuropeptide receptors in ovarian cancer. In 2016, I was awarded the University of Brighton studentship and I joint the “stress and cancer” group led by Dr Melanie Flint. During my PhD, I specialised in ovarian cancer immunology studying the regulation of the immune system in response to adrenergic stimuli. This project focused on the immunomodulation of cancer microenvironment including cytokine production, immune cell infiltration into the tumour, and cancer/immune metabolism. My interest for the immune response to cancer led to a translational study on immunotherapy targeting the Programmed cell Death Ligand 1 (PD-L1) with a final thesis on the adrenergic immune regulation affecting PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors in ovarian cancer.

In January 2020, I started working as research fellow in Dr Flint’s lab on a Rosetrees Trust funded project investigating the role of stress hormones in BRCA mutation carriers in the development of prostate cancer.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Brighton

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