2003 Degree in Biological Science (110/110 e lode), University of Rome "Roma3"
1994 Diploma di Maturità Scientifica
Dengue fever (DF) and its sever forms, dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS), are caused by a Flavivirus transmitted to humans mainly by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, and to a lesser extent by Ae. albopictus. About 100 million people are annually infected in the tropical regions making dengue the most widespread vector-borne virus disease in the world.
No specific treatment for dengue fever is currently available and control measures of its spreading (vaccines, vector control) didn’t give the expected results.
I’m interested in studying insects ecology and behaviour and I’m currently involved in a project which attempts to use genetic techniques to develop novel methods for controlling the transmission of dengue viruses. We are trying to deepen the knowledge on the ecology of wild Ae. aegypti population (i.e. densities, population dynamics, most productive breeding sites, dispersal, survival) in Tapachula, Southern Mexico. Big cages built in the field site to host mosquito populations will play a key role in this project. In these confined environment, fitness costs and behaviour of genetically modified Ae. aegypti rendered refractory to dengue infection will be investigated and compared to those of native mosquitoes.
Transgenic mosquitoes must have minimal fitness costs to be used in the control of arbovirosis. Therefore, carry out researches on the ecology of native and genetically modified mosquito populations is of primary interest in order to predict the spread and maintenance of transgenes in natural populations in case of transgenic Ae. aegypti release.