Doctoral student – Lab for Computational Biology, Integromics and Gene Regulation (CBIGR) &
Lab of Translational Oncogenomics and Bioinformatics (TOBI)
Department of Biomedical Molecular Biology, Faculty of Sciences, UGent &
Department of Biomolecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UGent
Principal investigators: prof. Vanessa Vermeirssen (PhD) and prof. Katleen De Preter (PhD)
Neuroblastoma accounts for 15% of all cancer deaths in children. It is the most common extracranial solid tumor during infancy. It can arise in different organs, but the adrenal gland is the most common site for the primary tumor. The disease is remarkable for its wide range of clinical outcomes. Despite intensive therapies being administered, often resulting in side effects such as leukemia, cardiomyopathies, and hearing loss, around 50% of children with a high-risk clinical phenotype eventually succumb to the disease. The reason of the poor outcome of existing therapies is to be found in the cellular heterogeneity of the tumor, containing cell types that are not targeted properly in the therapy. Some of these cell types represent a reservoir for tumor cells when selective pressure is applied by treatment. The spectrum of cell types underlies different regulatory programs, ending up in a variety of expression profiles, often referred to as cell states. In this context, gene regulatory networks highlight interactions between biomolecules, potentially revealing the intricate relationships between regulators each tumor cell relies on.
Gene regulatory networks can be inferred from a variety of omics data. In particular, single cell RNA sequencing has proved to be extremely valuable for the inference of gene regulatory networks, while other omics data types e.g. epigenomics data, significantly can enhance the accuracy of the inferred networks. By leveraging such information, my research aims at elucidating the heterogeneity across patients and disease stages, both from a cell type point of view and from a regulatory point of view, in order to identify novel candidates to be targeted within future personalized treatments.
- In February 2022 I received my Master of Science in Molecular Biotechnology and Bioinformatics at the University of Milan, Italy. The title of my final dissertation was “How crops cope with climate change: uncovering pathways involved in heat stress response in barley and rice”
- In March 2022 I started my PhD at Ghent University under the joint supervision of Prof. Vanessa Vermeirssen (CBIGR lab) and
prof. Katleen De Preter (TOBI lab)
Contact & links
- Lab address CBIGR: Zwijnaarde-Technologiepark 71, 9052 Ghent
- Lab address TOBI: UZ Gent, blok B (entrance 36), Corneel Heymanslaan 10, 9000 Gent
- Vittorio Zanzani is interested to receive invitations for presentations or talks