What is the current focus of your research, and what do you find most rewarding about your work?
The focus of my lab is to understand how we generate blood. For this we use both mouse embryos and pluripotent stem cells, since the final goal is to be able to produce blood products to be used both for regenerative medicine and disease modelling purposes.
The stunning thing that always amazes me is the logic applied by all biological processes, and it is very rewarding to get to finally understand some of them. And I always end up saying “that makes sense”.
What led you to become a scientist and to stem cell research?
Frankly, I literally hated studying natural sciences until I met a terrific teacher toward the end of high school. She really got me to love molecular and cell biology. I owe her a lot for being a scientist now. Then, during my first year of PhD I had the chance of attending a Keystone Meeting on Stem Cells. Those were my first days in the Developmental Biology field and I heard Gordon Keller speaking about the way he was using pluripotent stem cells to model development. That totally blew me away and I knew within seconds that I wanted to become a stem cell scientist.
How do you spend your free time?
I have just started my own group so I spend a lot of time in the lab. Then for the rest I am totally kidnapped by my two kids, Inés and Gabriel. There is not much time for the rest, which is usually a good book, a good beer or a good glass of wine and a nice meal. You can always count on me for eating and drinking. It is usually accompanied by some good music or the sound of radio.
What is something your peers would be surprised to learn about you?
A lot of people know that I am fond of rugby (quite strange for an Italian) and singing (not that strange for an Italian). But not many know that I toured in northern Italy with a group of friends with which we mounted a totally home-made version of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar and that a few years later I also sang in a rock band in Paris called “the Ritals.”
What do you most value about your membership with the ISSCR?
The ISSCR annual meeting it is a great place for networking. It is the place to be to understand where the field is moving. Beside the science side, I think ISSCR does a really great job in discussing policy, a topic too often underrated and I really praise ISSCR work in public outreach. I am proud to serve for the Junior Investigator Committee and of the work we are doing opening the discussion on the topics that matter for junior scientists. Nothing is perfect but we’re doing our best to help the voice of the next generation of stem cell researchers be heard.
The big plus for me is that the annual meeting is where I have fun reuniting with friends and ex-colleagues.