Dr. Tiziana Petrozziello is a neuroscientist and the inaugural post-doctoral fellow in the Sadri-Vakili NeuroEpigenetics Laboratory. Her research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms that lead to pathogenesis in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). She received her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Naples Federico II, in Italy, where she studied a novel neuromodulatory role of SOD1 in ALS. It was during this time that she became committed to understanding the disease mechanisms that underlie ALS, given the lack of cures and the devastation that it causes for families.
Following completion of her PhD, Dr. Petrozziello began her post- doctoral training in Dr. Annunziato’s lab, in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Naples Federico II, where she studied dysregulation of calcium homeostasis in ALS. During this time, she received the Best Poster award from the Italian Society of Neuroscience (SINS, XVII National Congress) for her work on ALS. In January 2019 she joined the Sadri-Vakili lab, knowing that she would be able to use human post-mortem ALS samples and biofluids to identify targets for the development of novel therapies and biomarkers for ALS.
Dr. Petrozziello is highly motivated, dedicated and extremely productive. She is also a fast learner and technically skillful. Therefore, it was no surprise that she published her first paper from the Sadri-Vakli lab within the first year of arriving at Massachusetts General Hospital. This paper focuses on the role of inflammation in ALS using post-mortem human samples (Petrozziello et al., 2020). In addition, she was also a co-author on a methods paper demonstrating how to successfully extract the innate central nervous system immune cells, microglia, from post-mortem human samples (Bordt et al., 2020). Currently, her studies in the Sadri-Vakili lab are focused on elucidating how alterations in mitochondrial function and dynamics lead to motor neuron loss in ALS. Specifically, she is using post-mortem brain and spinal cord samples from a large cohort of ALS patients and controls to investigate changes in bioenergetics using the most current technology. Dr. Petrozziello has identified two specific targets that lead to fragmentation of mitochondria and thereby a decrease in the neuron’s energy production. Importantly, she has in hand genetic and pharmacological tools to target these proteins and mitigate deficits in mitochondrial function.