Research focusControl of autophagy during both physiologicaldevelopment and in stress conditions inthe sea urchin embryo.Model systemSea urchin embryo and larvae in development.Education and career1971, biology degree, University of Palermo,Italy; advisor: G. Giudice. 1972–1973, fellowshipfrom the Italian Ministry of PublicEducation, Institute of Comparative Anatomy,University of Palermo. 1974–1980, associatescientist at the Institute of ComparativeAnatomy, University of Palermo. 1981–2005,associate professor of cell biology, Departmentof Cell and Development Biology, University ofPalermo. 2000–2005, member of the scientificcommittee for PhD in “Biotechnology applied toprenatal medicine.” 2006–present, full professorof cell biology, in the Department of Molecularand Biomolecular Sciences and Technologies(STEMBIO) Section of Cell Biology, Universityof Palermo; 1995-present, member of the scientificcommittee for PhD in “Cell Biology andDrugs Technology” (Cell Biology). 2000–2003and 2008–present, vice-head of the School ofNatural Sciences.Why do you study autophagy?My interest in autophagy is to understand howautophagy contributes to cell differentiationin the development of embryos as well as tothe ability of embryos to defend themselvesagainst environmental stresses, includingthe remodeling of an alternative phenotype.I recently observed that autophagosomes/autolysosomes are present in different numbersdepending on the stage of development,but increase greatly under stress. Furthermore,my interest is to recognize the molecularpathways that, both during physiologicaldevelopment and in stress conditions, theembryo uses. I am also interested in investigatingthe relationship between autophagy andthe apoptotic process, because in sea urchinembryos, apoptosis is used to remove irreversiblydamaged cells as a response to stress. Inaddition, I am extending my research on autophagyand apoptosis in human granulosa cellsand cumulus oophorus, as part of medicalassistedreproduction, in order to select thebest corresponding oocyte, for fertilization.What do you think is a key questionin the autophagy field?Autophagy is a process that enables the cellto choose to live or die. The main goal wouldbe to understand the molecular pathwaysthrough which this process regulates survivalor death, in order to use this ability to tip thebalance one way or another. In this way wecould push the cell toward survival in the caseof excessive cell death, as in aging, or viceversa push toward death, as in tumorigenesis.Is teaching a substantial partof your current position?As a professor of cell biology at the university,I explain the main processes involvingthe cell, including apoptosis and autophagy.The research that I discuss certainly makesthe content of my lectures more interestingand at the same time students are agood stimulus because they always ask newquestions. In addition, this year, I was tutorof a doctoral thesis of a subject about theautophagic process in sea urchin embryosexposed to stress.Personal commentsIn my free time I love traveling, visiting archeologicalsites (Egypt, Turkey, Greece) and takingphotos, especially of natural landscapes(national parks: Banff and Glacier of Canada,Denali of Alaska, Monument Valley, Doñana ofSpain, Sahara Desert). Moreover, I like readingcontemporary literature (my favorite authors:Calvino, Marquez, Tabucchi, Camilleri, Vitali)and listening to jazz music.
|Number of pages||4|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|