I am currently a final year PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Skirmantas Kriaucionis within the Ludwig Cancer Research institute at Oxford University. I am working on the role of naturally occurring epigenetic cytidine variants in nucleotide metabolism with a focus on their deputed recycling by the salvage pathway and a perspective look on possibilities of cancer therapies.
Before moving to Oxford, 5 years ago, I studied Biotechnology (MSc and BSc) in Bologna University. This year, thanks partly to the Biochemical society travel scheme grant, I could attend the Keystone Symposia: Integrating Metabolism and Tumor Biology, which took place in the marvelous setting of the city center of Vancouver between the 13th and the 18th of January.
The meeting was largely focused on alteration commonly observed in cancer metabolism such as in glycolysis, amino acid utilization and nucleotide production. The field is very close to the clinic despite being based on deep biochemistry, as many labelling techniques useful for mass spectrometry rely on glucose or glutamine. These can be easily administered to patients before cancer resection for example, to understand the metabolic requirements of the tumor or its metastasis. Therefore, many sections were dedicated to the various mechanisms that are deregulated in response to altered metabolism and to possibilities of intervention in cancer. Interestingly, some talks were dedicated to research into how diet affects cancer development and progression in mouse models.
Attending the Symposia, despite not being totally close to what I am currently working on, helped me to meet the key people working on cancer metabolism. During this conference I explored the possibilities of moving on with my next career stage, in which I would like to gain postdoctoral experience in the USA. There were certainly many possibilities of networking and the poster that I was presenting helped me to set up an informal atmosphere to talk about my project and my current work to potential postdoctoral supervisors. I definitively established useful contacts with relevant people in the field of cancer metabolism, which I will follow up in order to convert one of them in a postdoctoral opportunity. For this amazing opportunity I am therefore very thankful to the Biochemical Society that I joined when I started my PhD in 2010.