Tiziana Bonaldi, 2007

Career Development Award Project Title

“Deciphering the language of Histone Modification in the establishment of cell identity by Proteomics”, 2007

Who she is

Biochemist Tiziana Bonaldi works on nuclear proteomics at the European Institute of Oncology in the Department of Experimental Oncology. After a degree in molecular biology and a doctorate in biochemistry, she worked for six years in Germany, at the Adolf Butenandt Institute in Munich and at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried. She then returned to Italy in 2008 thanks to the Armenise-Harvard Career Development Award.

What she does

Her work involves chromatin, a three-dimensional macro complex made of proteins and DNA that regulates gene expression. In particular, Bonaldi and her team study how the decoding of DNA contributes to cellular development and how this mechanism changes in the course of tumor progression.

They have a different methodology – based on DNA decoding – from the one adopted by most cancer centers in Italy, which has a genomic approach.

Bonaldi and her team instead focus on proteins. This approach is called proteomics: proteomics consists precisely in systematically identifying proteins, and it is considered post-genomic because it was developed after the completion of the genome project. However, genomics and proteomics are not conflicting but complementary. In fact, the transition from genes to proteins is much more complex than previously thought: the study of proteomics adds a perspective that had previously been ignored.

Bonaldi and her team are also trying to find the answers to basic biology questions with a highly technological approach. In fact, the tool used to carry out this research is mass spectrometry, an analytical technique borrowed from chemistry.

News from the Lab

In recent years Tiziana Bonaldi’s laboratory has worked on two projects funded by AIRC, the Italian Association for Cancer Research.

The first studies the role of micro RNA molecules during onset of lymphomas; the second consists in mapping protein targets, which are affected by certain anticancer drugs currently being studied.

In both cases, studies are being carried out on lymphomas with high incidence rates in infants, with the aim of progressively increasing chances of survival.