Biochemist Nico Mitro established at the age of 33 a research unit in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology of Metabolism and Mass Spectrometry at the University of Milan, where he is currently Group Leader. After working at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, he returned to Italy in 2008 thanks to the Armenise-Harvard Career Development Award.
During his research period in the United States, Mitro concentrated on the study of glucose metabolism, focusing mainly on diabetes and on one of its complications, atherosclerosis. His experiments, funded by the American Heart Association (AHA), gave him the opportunity to use the most advanced genomic platforms and thus gain technological expertise. Expertise that he was able to bring to Italy and to his new laboratory at the Department of Pharmacological Sciences,University of Milan.
Mitro and his team’s research aims to understand the mechanisms that generate the better-known complications of diabetes, such as atherosclerosis and neuropathy.
Why do high levels of glucose give rise to these diseases? And what are the mechanisms underlying the most common forms of neuropathy and atherosclerosis? These are very important questions, as 50-60% of people with diabetes develop atherosclerosis and/or neuropathy and an increasing percentage of the population suffers from diabetes.
The approach used in Mitro’s laboratory is highly interdisciplinary and applies advanced technologies in genomics, metabolomics and bioinformatics analysis.