Curriculum Coordinator: Prof. Santina Bruzzone

The Curriculum of Biochemistry aims at training experienced researchers in the field of Biochemistry, including Molecular and Cellular Biology skills, and Developmental Neurobiology.

Biochemistry’s primary objective is the study of the signaling mechanisms and biomolecules transformations that occur in physiological conditions, and the identification of their alterations associated with pathological conditions. Therefore, Biochemistry, through studies on isolated biomolecules, in vitro studies in cellular systems and in vivo studies on animal models, aims at the identification of new possible targets for therapies.
Developmental Neurobiology’s main purpose is the study of developmental biology, with particular reference to the nervous system of vertebrates and chordates. It attempts to identify the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the differentiation and morphogenesis of the nervous system in different model organisms, highlighting how much they have been preserved in evolution or reshaped to perform new or more complex functions. Finally, it is possible to correlate neurological pathologies with ontogenetic processes, studied using model organisms.

This curriculum provides a training during which the PhD students will follow some didactic activities, offered both by the teachers of the Doctorate Committee, and by qualified experts from other institutions and universities. In their training, the PhD students are personally involved in researches assigned to them in the Biochemical field, with the support of a supervisor. In the development of the project, they gradually acquire the technical skills and the necessary scientific knowledge to conduct the experimental research, delineating the experimental planning for the achievement of the proposed objectives with greater and greater autonomy. Furthermore, care is taken to ensure that PhD students acquire a critical view in the interpretation of obtained data, comparing them with the publications of other groups engaged in related fields. Finally, the ability to work in fruitful collaboration with the other members of the laboratory is promoted, as well as the possibility of developing part of their project in highly qualified foreign laboratories.
The experimental research is carried out in the laboratories of the Section of Biochemistry of the Department of Experimental Medicine (DIMES) and in the Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology of the Department of Earth, Environment and Life Sciences (DISTAV).

Some ongoing projects, developed by current graduate students, include:

  • Role of the hormone abscisic acid and its receptor LANCL2 in the regulation of glucose homeostasis;
  • Role of the metabolism of Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) in different physiological and/or pathological processes;
  • Extraction and structural characterization of molecules with potential pharmacological and/or nutraceutical interest from fungi grown on different substrates;
  • Characterization of enzymes involved in glycosylation mechanisms;
  • Evolutionary and molecular study of the differentiation of glial cells in protochordates;
  • Use of zebrafish as a model organism for the study of Alexander’s disease.