Pubblicato il: 16.07.2021 15:14

Umberto is assistant professor (RTDa)


Can you summarize in few words your research?

My research is focused on the study of viruses in the environment: from the identification of new viruses using meta-genomic and -transcriptomic approaches to the evolution of viral genomes, continuously pushed by the never-ending host-pathogen arms race. I also investigate host antiviral defences, especially post-transcriptional modifications mediated by the enzymatic activity of ADAR(s).

What is the most rewarding and the most challenging part of your work?

I am particularly fascinated by viruses and how they have managed to conquer different host ranges. Viruses are the simplest and, at the same time, smartest living structures. They can infect almost every cellular organism and they can deeply influence the fate of a species, as (unfortunately) known. The study of viruses is a continuous source of inspiration, and it is exciting. Of course, the challenge is the uncertainty of every experiment, no results can be expected with these 'non-canonical biological entities.

Tell us your story: what brings you to DiBio?

I spent my early research career at DiBio, where I completed my PhD in 2012. I moved as Post-Doc to the German research institution ‘Alfred Wegner’ on the beautiful island of Sylt, where I met scientists working on different facets of environmental science. There, I worked also on the cancer of bivalves, one of the very few existing transmissible cancers in nature. I came back to Padova at the end of 2020 to work as researcher on a national project aiming to disentangle viral communities of deep-sea sediments.

What would you tell your younger self?  

Take it easier. Perhaps, the search of a research reality even more based on multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches. And linking this with the previous question, I hope it could be pursued here at DiBio.

What’s your favourite “toy” for research – and what can it do?

I am fascinated by long-read sequencers and related methodologies supporting the analysis of full-length RNAs, such as Nanopore direct RNA and PacBio SMRT. These approaches are providing an unprecedented level of information, disentangling nested genes, overlapping isoforms and nucleotide modifications in highly convoluted genomes, a typical situation of DNA viruses such as Herpesvirales.  

What are your interests outside science?

I like outdoor life, hiking, mountain running as well as camping and travelling on the beautiful mountains near us as well as in distant regions. The real challenge is to harmonize this with the needs of three kids struggling around us. Of course, they take most of our hours but are, at the same time, they are really stimulating.



Ultimo aggiornamento: 20.07.2021 14:18