My name is Marisa Di Monaco and I am a BBSRC-funded PhD student on the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP) program; working in the Nezis Lab, School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick.
The MIBTP training year – comprising of taught courses in programming using R, Statistics and mathematical approaches to biology, as well as various lab based mastercalsses, allowed me to strengthen my investigative skills. As part of this year I also undertook a three-month CRUK internship and two rotation projects (one of which undertaken at the University of Birmingham in the Fan Lab). I am now in the second year of my substantive research project, which is concerned with elucidating the molecular mechanisms of diet induced Autophagy.
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved catabolic process that involves the degradation of cytoplasmic material through the lysosomal pathway. It is a cellular response in nutrient starvation but it is also responsible for the removal of aggregated proteins, damaged organelles and developmental remodeling. Dysfunction in autophagy has been implicated in an increasing number of diseases from bacterial and viral infections to cancer and more recently in neurodegeneration and other ageing-related diseases. Although it was initially believed that autophagy occurs randomly inside the cell, during the last years there is growing evidence that sequestration and degradation of cytoplasmic material by autophagy can be selective through receptor and adaptor proteins. In the lab, I am using the fruit fly Drosophila Melanogaster, as a genetically modifiable model organism to investigate the mechanisms of autophagy and selective autophagy in the context of the physiology of the cell, the system and the living organism.
Marisa Di Monaco