By Dr. Elisa Oppici
I’m Elisa Oppici, a young Doctor working in Dr. Barbara Cellini’s Lab since 2008. The lab is located at the University of Verona. Verona is located in northern Italy between Milan and Venice and near Garda Lake. The city is well known for Romeo and Juliet and the Opera festival in the ancient Roman arena, but we have plenty of other tourist sites. Besides Barbara and I, the group is composed by two postDoc (Dr. Riccardo Montioli, and Dr. Rossella Montone,), two PhD students (Dr. Mirco Dindo, and Dr. Carolina Conter) and, last but not least, our precious lab technician, Silvia Bianconi. Our work also benefits from the help of Prof. Voltattorni who has a long-time experience in the field of B6 enzymes.
We work a lot but we also have a lot of fun together because we love what we do. The group has been involved in the research of Primary Hyperoxaluria since 2007, and in these last 9 years we contributed to the identification of the molecular mechanisms leading to the disease (either in homozygous and heterozygous patients) and the identification of new therapeutic strategies.
We are all biochemists (it sounds scary but I swear it is not a bad thing) and everyone has their own individual expertise: for example Riccardo and Mirco are good at bioinformatic analyses (computer stuff) and I’m good at confocal microscopy (I consider small things relevant), actually I was able to attend an advanced microscopy course thanks to the funding raised by Ruben’s lemonade stand. Moreover we are all experienced in cooking, baking and eating, as every good Italian (breaking news “spaghetti and meatballs” are not an Italian dish)!
Even if our research is basic, during the last OHF grant we focused on the effect of B6 vitamers different from pyridoxine in counteracting the effect of pathogenic mutations, and we obtained promising results that if confirmed in animal models, could rapidly move from bench to bed-side.
Our job is amazing, but as you may know there are not a lot of funding opportunities in the rare disease field (especially in our country, famous for the migration of young scientist’s minds), so we are super grateful to OHF and to all of you for your precious support!