Tell us about yourself: what is your educational and academic background?
Since January 2022 I have been holding the position of Assistant Professor (BIO/14 – Pharmacology) at the Department of Drug and Health Sciences (DSFS), University of Catania (UniCT) with a main project focused on the identification and validation of new pharmacological targets in Alzheimer's disease (AD) through the use of microfluidics.
After high school graduation, I enrolled in biological (BSc) and chemical (MSc) sciences at UniCT, earning both of them with a maximum grade of 110/110 with honors.
During my PhD in Neurobiology (UniCT), I investigated the activity of amyloidogenic peptides involved in protein conformational disorders. I also had the opportunity, supported by an International Internship Programme Scholarship, to work in Prof. Susan Lunte’s group at the University of Kansas (KU) (USA) as a visiting international graduate student (1 year).
In November 2014, I returned to KU as a postdoctoral associate in Prof. Sunil David’s group, where I focused on mechanisms of innate immune responses, publishing two patents.
In July 2015, I joined Prof. Lunte’s group as a postdoctoral associate, focusing on the development of microfluidic-based methods for reactive species detection. My efforts have granted me a prestigious and competitive American Heart Association Fellowship. This fellowship allowed me to continue pursuing my major interest in investigating the protective effects of carnosine against the oxidative stress involved in cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.
In August 2017 I moved back to my home country as Senior researcher at the Oasi Research Institute (Troina) (3 years) and then as a Senior Researcher Associate at DSFS (UniCT) (2 years) focusing on a research activity that covers multidisciplinary aspects of molecular and clinical pharmacology as well as of toxicology, with particular attention on the neurobiological link between AD and depression to identify new pharmacological targets and novel neuroprotection strategies.
Can you briefly introduce your research?
My research activity mainly focuses on the development and application of innovative microfluidic-based technologies for drug discovery in AD (identification and validation of new pharmacological target in in vitro and ex vivo AD models) as well as for early diagnosis of cognitive disorders in AD (detection and quantification of plasma biomarkers). As a part of national and international collaborations, I am also investigating the link between microglia/macrophages activity and oxidative stress in the context of AD and depression, as well as the therapeutic potential of carnosine as a new pharmacological strategy leading to neuroprotection.
What are the most challenging features of your work?
To date, clinical trials of treatments for AD have yielded disappointing results. One possible reason for this failure is that therapies are generally given after clinical disease onset, a stage at which it might be too late to block and/or reverse the damage generated by the pathogenic events. Early detection and diagnosis of AD is of utmost importance for disease management, however, current procedures in AD diagnosis are invasive, expensive, and require mutual corroboration. Moreover, far too often they are unavailable because they may be uncovered by insurance or difficult to access, or both.
What are the most 'intriguous' and fulfilling aspects of your research?
The development and validation of a novel and ultra-sensitive microfluidic diagnostic tool, allowing the analysis of a multiple set of circulating early biomarkers of different molecular nature in plasma and peripheral cells and improve the ability to monitor both onset and progression of AD, is of utmost importance for disease management. Multimorbidity is also common in AD; in fact, depression, cerebrovascular disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes mellitus are associated with incident AD. The identification of AD at an early stage will therefore also help to prevent/slow down other pathologies.
THAT'S ME in few words! What are your outside hobbies?
I am an ambitious, very hard working and extremely enthusiastic research scientist. Besides that, I cannot imagine my life without sports! Since I was a teenager I have always been practicing sports. When you take care of your body, you are also taking care of your mind!
Please visit my website (https://carusogiuseppe.net/) for more information about my research and hobbies.