Current Students


XXXVIII round (from academic year 2022-2023)


Eleonora Grecu

Eleonora graduated in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Cagliari in April 2022, discussing an experimental thesis titled “Insulin-like Growth Factor-2 and Insulin-like growth Factor-1 Receptor in the pathogenesis of pterygium”. Longing for focusing on molecular mechanisms involved in the inflammatory process, she applied for a Ph.D. position in the Molecular and Translational Medicine program @UNICA under the supervision of Prof. Daniela Murtas. Her PhD project, under PNRR funding, aims to reach a deeper insight into Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by validating cerebral organoids as a 3D viable, feasible and reproducible model of study in the development and progression of the pathology.


Francesco Lai

Francesco graduated in Medicine and Surgery at University of Cagliari in 2017. He then entered the School of Medical Genetics, achieving the post-graduate degree discussing a thesis on “Genetic Basis of Inherited Retinal Disease in a Molecularly Characterized Cohort of 75 patients from Sardinia”. During the last year of the post-graduate course, he spent 3 months in the UK at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology – Moorfields Eye Hospital of London, improving his practical skills and competencies in the diagnosis of Inherited Retinal Diseases (IRDs) and in the application of Gene Therapies in preclinical and clinical settings. He joined the Molecular and Translational Medicine Ph.D. program @UNICA in 2022 becoming a member of the Oncology and Molecular Pathology Unit under the supervision of Prof. Andrea Perra. His PhD project will be focused on precision medicine and in the clinical and molecular characterization of human diseases characterized by inherited retinal degeneration.


Antonio Luigi Manai

Antonio graduated in 2022 from the University of Trieste with a master degree in Functional Genomics after completing a thesis titled “Analysis of viral sequences of SARS-CoV-2 in rectal swabs collected from hospitalized patients.” In November 2022, he started his doctoral studies in Molecular and Translational Medicine @UNICA, where he is being supervised by Professor Cristina Cocco at the Neuro Endocrinology and Fluorescence laboratory of the Department of Biomedical Sciences. His doctoral study focuses on the identification of possible biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Parkinson’s disease.


Stefano Mariani


Alessia Mascia

Alessia graduated with a master’s degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology in 2016 at the University of Cagliari. In 2019, she joined the School of Medical Genetics where she worked at Binaghi Hospital in Cagliari, graduating in 2023 with a thesis on “The role of genomic instability in human carcinogenesis: is the TP53 the real player?”, under the supervision of Prof. Sabrina Giglio, Head of the Genetic Unit. She joined the Molecular and Traslational Medicine Ph.D. program @UNICA under PNRR funding and is presently focusing on liquid biopsies to unveil new diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, under the supervision of Prof. Andrea Perra.

Angela Maria Mereu

Angela Maria graduated cum laude in Cellular and Molecular Biology in 2022. She is a former Erasmus trainee in the Department of Molecular Structural Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany. During her traineeship, she was enrolled in the group headed by Dr. Luca Zinzula, whose research focus is the structural characterization of macromolecular complexes from highly pathogenic viruses. In particular, Angela Maria was appointed to conduct a project for her Master thesis aimed at the validation of the virion protein 35 (VP35) oligomerization domain of Ebola virus (EBOV) and Marburg virus (MARV) as potential antiviral target. She has joined the Molecular and Translational Medicine Ph.D. program and she is currently working with the team of Dr. Marianna Greco in the hematology and cytofluorimetry laboratory of “A. Businco” hospital in Cagliari. Her PhD project, under the supervision of Prof. Patrizia Zavattari, is focused on the cytofluorimetric analysis on the correlation of iron erythropoiesis status in patients with haematological diseases.


Debraj Mukhopadhyay

Debraj graduated in Pharmacy (Hons.) [Topper & Gold Medalist, 2015-19] at the GRD(PG)-IMT, UTU, Dehradun, India. Then, he achieved a Master’s degree in Public Health (Epidemiology) [University Topper & Gold Medalist, 2019-21] at the DPSRU, New Delhi, India. He then worked as a Systematic Reviewer (full-time) in Skyward Analytics Pvt. Ltd. for about 2 years. In 2022 he won a 3-year Ph.D. scholarship (MIUR, Italy) in Molecular and Translational Medicine @UNICA under the supervision of Prof. Sara De Matteis. The title of his Ph.D. project is “The Role of miRNAs as Early Biomarkers of Asbestos-Related Respiratory Diseases and Cancers” and it is funded by the ARRDIA (Asbestos Related Respiratory Diseases in Industrial Areas) study, a Sardinia Region-funded study lead by Dr. Roberto Cherchi. The overarching goal of his PhD project is to identify early diagnostic biomarkers of asbestos-related lung diseases and cancers to anticipate diagnosis and so improve patients’ survival, and ideally provide new therapeutic molecular targets.  As part of the Ph.D. project, he will lead a pilot study at the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai to confirm and replicate among subjects of different ethnical backgrounds and currently exposed to asbestos the findings of the ARRDIA study.


Mara Persano


Giorgia Zedda

Giorgia received her Master’s degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Cagliari in September 2022. Her experimental thesis titled “Analysis of Metabolic Alterations in Murine Models of Hepatocarcinogenesis Induced by Different Oncogenes” focused on describing the mechanisms underlying the metabolic reprogramming of pre-neoplastic and neoplastic hepatocytes. She recently joined the Molecular and Translational Medicine PhD program @UNICA under PNRR funding becoming a member of the Oncology and Molecular Pathology Unit under the supervision of Prof. Andrea Perra. Giorgia is currently studying precision medicine through in vivo and in vitro models of tumour diseases to validate new molecular targets.


XXXVII round (from academic year 2021-2022)


Maria Elena Laino


Nadia Malakmahmoudi

Nadia received her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical engineering (Biomaterials) in 2016. She then completed her Master’s degree at the University of Tehran in the Biomedical Engineering field (Tissue engineering). For her thesis, she focused on the analysis of the gene expression profile of green laser induced mesenchymal stem cells, using RNA sequencing techniques. She was eager to expand her knowledge in cell and molecular medicine, so she joined the PhD program in Molecular and Translational Medicine @UNICA in 2022. Her PhD project, under the supervision of Prof. Fabio Marongiu, studies the effects of different dietary patterns on cancer progression.

Massimo Milia

Massimo received his bachelor’s degree in Toxicology of Food, Environment and Drugs in 2009 and his master’s degree in Food and Nutrition Sciences in 2019 from the University of Cagliari, discussing an experimental thesis titled “Characterization of Spirulina (Artrosphira Patensis) strains grown in a parameter-controlled photobioreactor”. He has many years of experience in the field of chemical analysis gained in both private and academic settings, specializing in physicochemical analysis of environmental and food matrices such as microalgae, plants, fruits and vegetables. In 2022, he joined the PhD program in Molecular and Translational Medicine @UNICA, under the supervision of Prof. Alberto Angioni. His doctoral project focuses on the formulation, characterization and testing of spirulina-based supplements on athletes and subjects with metabolic diseases.

Clara Porcedda

Clara got her Master of Science at University of Cagliari in Neuropsycobiology in 2018 defending a thesis titled “Chronic consumption of Bifidobacter alters neuronal plasticity and GABA-ergic transmission in adult rat hyppocampus”. She has been holding a two-year post-graduate scholarship in the Department of Biomedical Sciences in Cagliari.
From 2021, she is a PhD student in Molecular and Translational Medicine at UNICA under the supervision of Prof. Valeria Sogos; through her project she aims to study the involvement of glia in mechanism of neuroprotection and neurodegeneration.

Francesca Sedda

Francesca graduated cum laude in Pharmaceutical chemistry and technology in 2020, with the thesis “In vivo evaluation of the mitogenic and differentiating effect induced on the murine pancreas by IS25 and TG68, two new selective TRβ agonists of 3,3′,5-triiodo-L-thyronine” carried out in the Pathology department under the supervision of Prof. Andrea Perra. Right after her graduation, she started an internship in the same team and in 2021, she joined the PhD program in Molecular and Translational Medicine, remaining under the supervision of Prof. Perra. The aim of her project is to study of the role of thyroid hormone receptors in the progression of non-alcoholic steato-hepatitis and cirrhosis, and to investigate whether the expression of galectin-3 could be modulated by new agonists of the thyroid hormone receptors during liver fibrosis and carcinogenesis. She’s spending her second year in Prof. Stefano Romeo‘s group at the Wallenberg Laboratory, University of Gothenburg (Sweden), developing her project in in-vitro models, working also with spheroids (3D models), thus acquiring new knowledge with respect to her background of in vivo experimentation.


XXXVI round (from academic year 2020-2021)


Giacomo Aru


Alberto Chighine

Alberto graduated in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Cagliari in 2014, discussing the thesis ‘Metabolomics investigation in an animal model of mechanical asphyxia: a pilot study’. In 2020 he completed the Residency program in Legal and Forensic Medicine @UNICA discussing the thesis ‘Metabolomics insights on mechanical asphyxia: an animal model’. Since 2021, he is a research fellow in Legal Medicine (MED/43) @UNICA and he works as a freelance forensic pathologist. The research group he belongs works on the application of metabolomics to address ‘classical’ issues of forensic pathology such as differential diagnosis of cardiac arrest, asphyxial deaths, perinatal asphyxia and, most of all, post-mortem interval (PMI) estimation. Other areas of interest include the forensic application of –omics sciences, forensic toxicology, medical malpractice, ethical and medico-legal issues in clinical research. His PhD thesis for the Molecular and Translational Medicine PhD program, will focus on the metabolomics investigation of post-mortem human pericardial fluid with the aim of building a robust PMI prediction model (tutor Prof. Luigi Atzori, co-tutor Prof. Ernesto d’Aloja).


Chiara Daniela Arru

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