Tell us something about your background.
I obtained my master degree in Chemistry at the University of Turin with Honors (Cum Laude) (Dec.2016). My master thesis title was: “Synthesis and characterization of Strigolactones analogues and mimics – looking for an inhibitor of SLs perception receptors”. This work was focused on the most important commercial analogue of the Strigolactones plant hormones, GR24. I designed and synthesized an analogue of GR24 which had a lactam D-ring. Specifically, I generated the N-methyl and N-H molecules to assess their inhibitory activity in a plant-based assay. Additionally, I attached these lactam rings to other Strigolactone’s mimics, EGO10 (previously synthetized in our laboratory) and the 4-Br-debranone.
Furthermore, during my master thesis, I spent two months in Paris working on the synthesis of some precursors required for the multicomponent Petasis reaction, utilized to generate enantiopure 1,2-trans-diamines for the synthesis of iminosugars and benzodiazepines.
Tell us a bit about your PhD project in OXYTRAIN and your research interests.
My project in OXYTRAIN: Mechanistic characterisation of a cofactor-independent HPP oxygenase
This project aims to elucidate the catalytic mechanism of a cofactor-independent monooxygenase that belongs to the tautomerase superfamily and catalyzes the oxidative cleavage of 4-hydroxyphenylenolpyruvate (HPP). Specifically, the objectives are to synthetize different HPP derivatives and analogues as potential substrates and/or inhibitors of the HPP oxygenase in order to see if something changes in the activity of the enzyme, to determine the X-Ray crystal structures of the HPP oxygenase in complex with substrate HPP and/or HPP analogues to elucidate the characteristics of the active site and understand how it would be possible to improve enzyme’s oxygenase activity, and finally to perform mutagenesis studies to confirm the catalytic roles of identified active site residues. The expected results include firstly the insight into the substrate scope of HPP oxygenase and secondly the understanding of the catalytic mechanism of HPP oxygenase with some more details.
My scientific interests
I am very interested in designing and synthetizing new molecules and compounds with a biological interest using new approaches and methodologies, both chemical and biochemical. I am particularly interested in medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry and in understanding how natural and synthetized compounds interact with protein targets at a molecular level.
What do you expect from OXYTRAIN?
To learn new chemical and biochemical techniques and to study deeper the role of oxygenase enzymes for a possible industrial application, mostly to produce pharmaceutical compounds and biologically active molecules. Moreover, I hope to learn how to handle a research project on my own, how to communicate scientific results through writing papers and how to make all the things that I will have learned useful for my future career both academic or in a company.
What do you like to do in your free time, your hobbies, interests, what motivates you.
In my free time, I really like to go to the gym and do dance courses such as zumba and reggaeton and to go for a ride when the weather is good. In addition, I really like to spend some time with my boyfriend and friends going out at night to have fun and chat with them. I also like thriller stories, both thriller books and films and travel around the world, visiting new places and cities. What motivates me is my passion and love for science, my curiosity and perseverance. In addition, the esteem and support from my family and friends have always motivated me to do the best I can in my job.