My scientific area of interest is neonatology, with a special focus on brain development and impairment following preterm birth.
My past and current research activity can be summarized in four parts:
- I started to do research in neonatology in 1999 (I became MD in 2000) in Genoa (Italy). In the first years I focused on the use of brain damage markers in the perinatal period for a better diagnosis and prognosis. Together with a qualified research team, we succeeded to validate the assessment of a protein (S100B protein) in multiple matrices, including measurements before birth (amniotic fluid and maternal blood), at birth (cord blood and newborn’s blood), in the first days of life (blood, urine, saliva, and, in the mother’s colostrum and milk). We succeeded in our aim to provide reference values in both physiological and pathological conditions in the newborn, including prematurity, intra-uterine growth restriction, asphyxia and intracranial bleeding. I actively took part of multiple parts of these investigations, being the person quantifying biomarkers levels in the lab with different techniques, participating to study designing, contributing in manuscript writing. In a couple of studies, we reported S100B concentrations in pre-adolescents and in adults conducting sport activity.
- In 2003 I moved to Netherlands (University of Maastricht) to do my PhD on brain development and S100B protein in an animal model. This allowed me to improve my knowledge and skills on basic science (including immunohistochemistry and behavioral testing), and to correlate pre-clinical with clinical data. The research question was what are the effects of prenatal steroids on brain development, including short- and long- term assessment, from birth to adulthood in the offspring of the rat. In addition, we reported that a lower dose of betamethasone was associated with milder side-effects. I’ve been the Principal Investigator in this group of studies, thus performing animal experiments and taking care of data analysis and reporting.
- Between 2009 and 2014 I moved back to Genoa, where I got a permanent position as senior consultant in neonatology. Here I dedicated myself to learn about how to conduct clinical trials, systematic reviews & meta-analysis, guidelines (according to GRADE). This 5-year period has been pretty intense and has led, beginning from 2014, to a rewarding scientific output, mainly in Cochrane reviews in neonatal medicine. My collaboration with Cochrane is not limited to “standard” systematic reviews, but it includes three ongoing Overviews of Cochrane reviews. This constitutes a new field in neonatology, as only one of this Overview has been published so far in neonatology. Moreover, I published a couple of studies on the clinical use of micro-methods in the newborn.
- Since February 2015 I live and work in Lund. I currently work 50% as “överläkare” in the neonatal intensive care unit of Lund/Malmö, and 50% as a researcher. In the period 2017-19, my 50% research time will be covered by “ALFyngre-medel”. The only reason that led me to leave Italy and move to Sweden has been the attractive opportunity to join Professor David Ley, with the great possibility to take part to both animal and clinical studies in a motivated and well-equipped research environment. In agreement and with the support of Professor David Ley, I could become involved in the experiments in the preterm rabbit which have been successfully conducted for several years. In addition, I have been allowed to develop new research lines, e.g. the use of (high-resolution) brain magnetic resonance imaging and innovative behavioral tests in the rabbit (manuscript in preparation). During 2016 I could run multiple research sessions in the preterm rabbit, and we succeeded to achieve caffeine blood concentrations comparable to the human newborn (manuscript in preparation, in collaboration with the University of Uppsala). Finally, I promoted the establishment of a collaboration between the Universities of Lund and of Genoa in order to collect human blood sample to validate micro-methods in neonatology. Samples recruitment has started one year ago in both centers (unpublished data).