My current position is Associate Professor at the Department of Physics of the University of Florence and Group Leader (Group of Single Molecule Biophysics) at the European Laboratory for Non-linear Spectroscopy (LENS), a renowned international and interdisciplinary “center of excellence” of the University of Florence.
My research interests lie across physics and biology. On one hand, my research is focused on the development of techniques for the study of biology at the molecular scale, with a particular interest on optical methods. On the other hand, I am particularly interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying mechanical regulation of biological systems. My biological interests encompass the study of the chemomechanical properties of molecular motors; the molecular mechanisms of mechanotransduction; and the conversion of mechanical signals into changes in gene expression and cell fate. I developed novel techniques for the imaging and manipulation of single biological molecules, using optical and magnetic tweezers combined with fluorescence and scattering microscopy. Application of these techniques gave new insight into important mechanisms underlying the functioning of molecular motors (Capitanio et al., PNAS 2006) and the load-dependence of muscle contraction (Capitanio et al., Nature Methods 2012). More recently, my techniques have been applied to investigate the earliest events in force generation by cardiac myosin (Woody et al., eLife 2019), mechanosensitivity of processive molecular motors (Gardini et al., Nature Communications 2018), target search by DNA-binding proteins (Tempestini et al., Nucleic Acids Research 2018), and the mechanosensitivity of α-catenin inside and outside adherens junctions (Arbore et al., bioRxiv 2020, under review in Nature Communications).
I obtained a FIR (“Futuro in Ricerca”) funding, an extremely selective grant awarded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) to foster high quality research and support the independence of young researchers. My group is also involved in research projects funded by the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP), the Italian association for cancer research (AIRC), and private foundations (Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze) and the LaserLab-Europe H2020 Integrated Infrastructure Initiative.
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