Secondary School Liceum of Classical studies in Milan, State University of Milan, National Institute for Cancer Research (Milan, Italy)
I studied in a Secondary School in Milan called Classical Liceum, because they teach ancient languages Latin and Greek. They helped to study literature and poetry, as well as philosophy and art. I loved all that but I discovered to love the sciences more so I went on to study Biology at the University of Milan and specialised in Molecular Biology. I completed my doctoral experiemental studies at the National Institute for the Cure and Research of Cancer and qualified as Doctor in Biological Sciences (Immunology)
After working for a couple of of years in Milan at the National Institute for the Cure and Research of Cancer, I moved to London for a two years immunology reseach fellowship in UCL. I was then offered a lectureship in immunology at East London University and I worked there for over 14 years, going more and more part time as I started to juggle work and starting a family, In 2004, as the family expanded, we moved out of London to Brighton and I took a position as Biology teacher in a local sixth form college. But after a year of ‘just teaching’ I was missing the lab too much and I approached BSMS Medical School asking to join their research. They offered me a postdoc position which was very helpful to restart my research. In 2014 I was offered the position of Senior Lecturer in Clinical Immunology at Brighton University.
My job as Senior Lecturer at UoB involves lots of teaching to undergraduate and postgraduate students. I love Immunology and I am passionate about making student understand this topic which is often seen as very complicated. I run research in collaboration with BSMS medical school on T cells responses to chronic CMV infections in older people. Recently, I have also been studying host immune responses to the microbiota in the skin.
I am a senior lecturer at Brighton University. I am a researcher and teach immunology, which is the most fascinating science explaining how we can survive things like infections and cancer.
I grew up in Italy and I first moved to Uk for a short-term research position in UCL. The plan was to live in London just for two years but I have been in Uk 22 years! I now live in beautiful Brighton with my husband Bren and our three kids. We have a lovely cat called Ringo who just loves humans. We are a very outdoorsy family and enjoy long walks but footbal is the clear family passion and all kids play in local teams. My favourite food is , of course, Italian and I am very lucky that my hubby is a good chef. He cooks our meals but I am still the one doing all the baking in my spare time.
I study how our body responds to microbes. I look into people’s blood to check how cells change after an infection.
In my job I am resposible for teaching immunology to a lot of students, both in class and in the lab. We have very large labs like this one, where students learn how to plan and run experiments.
I also run my own research and spend long hours in front of instruments like this:
This big machine allows me to look at million of cells I take from people’s blood to find out how they respond to infections. In blood there are lots of different types of cells that help us keep us healthy.
I study responses to a large virus that most of us carry hidden into our cells, called Cytomegalovirus. This is a very special virus, which normally does not affect our health unless our immune system is weak.
I also study the responses of our skin cells to a fungus called Candida albicans, who is part of microbes normally found on our body. Here is a picture of Candida, I recently took using a microscope. And where did I find it? in somebody’s saliva!
My Typical Day:
every day is different but typically include some teaching, lab experiments and an evening swim
What I'd do with the prize money:
Run events for parents in my local community to talk about the basic facts of immunology and the importance of vaccination.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Friendly, Curious, Persistent
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
not really, I liked it
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
a surgeon, I love watching operations!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
a good lasagna
What is the most fun thing you've done?
snorkeling in a cave in Croatia
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
to see each of my three kids grow happy healthy lives
Tell us a joke.
.. but only the antivaxxers will get it. Measles