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Meet our Latest Travel Award Winner Alice Filippini

Meet our Latest Travel Award Winner Alice Filippini
By Sam Roome 2 months ago 608 Views No comments

Alice Filippini is a researcher working at the University of Brescia and is researching Parkinsons Disease. The award will help fund her trip to 18th National Congress of the Italian Society for Neuroscience.

I would like to thank you a lot for giving me this opportunity. I am very grateful! Travel for Science is always a good idea!!!. Alice Filippini, Hello Bio travel award winner

Congratulations Alice. First, can you tell us a bit more about what you're working on at the moment?

Parkinson's Disease (PD) is one of the most common neurodegenerative disorders; it is characterized by intracellular inclusions called Lewy Bodies (LB) and Lewy Neurites (LN) in surviving neurons. LB and LN are mainly composed by aggregated forms of αSynuclein (αSyn), suggesting that the aggregation process of αSyn and its subsequent accumulation in amyloid deposits is a crucial event in the pathogenesis of the disease. At the moment, I am working on the mechanisms underlying αSyn aggregates internalization and clearance in astrocytes. Specifically, Clusterin, an extracellular chaperone, seems to play an important role during this process, probably acting as a modulator of αSyn internalization. Interestingly, this result was demonstrated in murine primary astrocytes, but it was confirmed in human iPSCs-derived astrocytes. Intriguingly, we found that Leucine-Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2), which represents the most common cause of autosomal-dominantly inherited and apparently sporadic PD cases, affects Clusterin abundance in murine primary astrocytes, suggesting that LRRK2 might affect Clusterin-dependent αSyn internalization. Globally, our results suggest that targeting Clusterin levels or modulating LRRK2 activity might improve Syn aggregates clearance and prevent the spreading of αSyn and PD.

What is it about your field of research that gets you most excited?

When I first came into this lab, I had a quite different neuroscience background (RNA editing, Fragile X syndrome) and I wasn’t aware of the complexity of PD pathogenesis. Almost two years later, I see that basically every day some labs in the world discover a piece of this huge and mysterious picture and still a lot remains unrevealed. This is what gets me excited, because I hope that one day (maybe not too far) all these pieces will be put together to fight once and for all this neurodegenerative disease, and I am very happy and proud to contribute!

Which scientists working today do you most admire, and why?

Maria Grazia Spillantini, because her studies on αSyn are always a milestone for people working on PD!

What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing life scientists and their work?

I think that getting funding for research today is the biggest challenge for everyone in this field. I also think that this situation leads scientist to feel a lot of stress, affecting the quality of their own lives and then of their work. I think this is not fair, because stress can make you hate the job you once loved.

What’s your favorite science quote?

"Theory is when you know everything, but nothing works; Practice is when everything works but no one knows why. In our lab, theory and practice are combined: nothing works, and no one knows why."

Sometimes it happens!!!


Thank you Alice - we wish you all the best for a successful conference!

Click here to read about our past winners or why not apply for the grant yourself?


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