Biochemist Tiziana Bonaldi works on nuclear proteomics at the European Institute of Oncology in the Department of Experimental Oncology. After a degree in molecular biology and a doctorate in biochemistry, she worked for six years in Germany, at the Adolf Butenandt Institute in Munich and at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried. She then returned to Italy in 2008 thanks to the Armenise-Harvard Career Development Award.
Her work involves chromatin, a three-dimensional macro complex made of proteins and DNA that regulates gene expression. In particular, Bonaldi and her team study how the decoding of DNA contributes to cellular development and how this mechanism changes in the course of tumor progression.
They have a different methodology – based on DNA decoding – from the one adopted by most cancer centers in Italy, which has a genomic approach.
Bonaldi and her team instead focus on proteins. This approach is called proteomics: proteomics consists precisely in systematically identifying proteins, and it is considered post-genomic because it was developed after the completion of the genome project. However, genomics and proteomics are not conflicting but complementary. In fact, the transition from genes to proteins is much more complex than previously thought: the study of proteomics adds a perspective that had previously been ignored.
Bonaldi and her team are also trying to find the answers to basic biology questions with a highly technological approach. In fact, the tool used to carry out this research is mass spectrometry, an analytical technique borrowed from chemistry.