I registered with the MOAC Doctoral Training course in April 2007 after completing the MSc in Science at the Open University (Milton Keynes) in 2006 with distinction. I had previously completed a Bachelors degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Siena (Italy) attaining a 2:1 degree with Honours. I am now on the last year of my PhD and aim to complete the course in 2012.
My current skills focus on biophysical and immunological techniques, particularly those involved with the use of optical spectroscopy, protein modeling and serum antibody testing and subsequent data analysis for the study of the structure and immunogenicity of proteins.
My wet lab experience includes UV-Vis absorption and circular dichroism spectroscopy (CD), intrinsic fluorescence spectroscopy, preparative and analytical size-exclusion chromatography coupled with several in-line concentration detectors (HPLC-SEC, SEC-MALLS), anion exchange chromatography with pulsed-amperometric detection (HPAE-PAD), SDS-PAGE and native gel separation. In addition to this, I have experience in setting up in vivo immunisations with investigational vaccines and in performing several immunological assays to quantify their immune responses, including enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), immunoblot, complement-mediated serum bactericidal activity (SBA) with live pathogenic organisms and fluorescence activated cell sorting analysis (FACS).
My theoretical experience includes the extensive use of software packages such as Chromeleon (Dionex), Astra (Wyatt), Spectra Manager (Jasco) and the use of the Dichroweb server (Birkbeck College) for the deconvoltution of CD data. I am very familiar with various open-source servers for sequence analysis and protein modeling. I am proficient in using the program suites UCSF Chimera (NIH), Pymol (DeLano) and Yasara (CMBI) for structure visualisation, Modeller (Sali), I-Tasser (Zhang) and ICM Pro (Molsoft) for homology modeling and threading.
Outside of my PhD, I dedicate my time and expertise to improve the Open Directory Project, the most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web. I am an Editor for the Biology directory since 2006 (in Italian) and more recently in 2011 I have also become involved with the Chemistry directory.
Title: Biophysical and Immunological Studies of Vaccine Components against Neisseria meningitidis
Supervisors: Alison Rodger (Biophysical Chemistry)
Advisory Committee: Corinne Smith (School of Life Sciences), Ian Feavers (National Institute for Biological Standards and Control).
Collaborators: Claudia Magagnoli, Mariagrazia Pizza and Rino Rappuoli (Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics); Ian Feavers and Barbara Bolgiano (National Institute for Biological Standards and Control); Stephen Taylor and Charlotte Brookes (Health Protection Agency, Porton); Jamie Findlow and Xilian Bay (Health Protection Agency, Manchester).
Meningococcal meningitis and sepsis are two severe diseases that still cause significant mortality. To date there is no universal vaccine able to prevent them. Five antigens discovered by reverse vaccinology have been expressed in a form suitable for large-scale manufacturing: they have the potential to prevent serogroup B infections. Vaccination with glycoconjugate vaccines, comprising the capsular polysaccharide chemically linked to a protein carrier, are effective against disease caused by serogroups A, C, W135 and Y.
My PhD project focuses on studying the overall structure, folding and thermal stability of promising meningococcal vaccine components utilising various analytical techniques. The ability of each antigen to induce in vivo functional antibody responses under various conditions was studied in a low-dose mouse model.
MSc in Science
The MSc in Science at the OU spaned over 2 years and required the completion of one module in each of the following disciplines: Chemistry (Molecules in Medicine), Biological Sciences (MSc project module) and Science/Communication (Communicating science in the information age).
Department of Chemistry
University of Warwick
Gibbet Hill Road
Coventry CV4 7AL
A dot Martino at warwick dot ac dot uk