Daniele Fachinetti wins the Emergence(s) 2018 award
Daniele Fachinetti wins the "Emergence(s)" 2018 prize, awarded by the city of Paris to recognize innovative research programs taking place in Paris. This award, for the amount of 210,000 euros, recognizes the work that he has been doing for several years on the centromere.
Daniele Fachinetti is Italian and holds a PhD in cellular biology from the University of Milan, in partnership with the institute for oncology research, the IFOM. From the start of his academic career, he was interested in DNA replication and genome instability. Though it was the desire to study his subject of choice - the centromere, the area of contact between two chromosome branches (chromatids) - that took him stateside to join the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in San Diego, California. There he worked at the Don Cleveland Lab for five years. "I began to look at how the centromere is put together and what it is made of. At that time we already knew a lot about the proteins in it, but less about its DNA."
When he joined Institut Curie in 2015, he created his laboratory, the Fachinetti Lab, "Molecular mechanisms of chromosome dynamics". What is his research about? He studies the mechanisms that determine the function of centromeres, the preservation of their integrity through the cellular cycle and the impact of their failure on the stability of the genome. A true challenge for this dedicated researcher. "Here at Institut Curie I am lucky to work in a prestigious and innovative research center, which has all the technological resources needed to work in the best possible conditions. It is also an exceptional place where I rub shoulders with researchers from all over the world. These contacts are enriching in both professional and human terms, and lead regularly to new prospects or collaborations."
The centromere plays a major part in cellular division. A process that's essential to the life of cells, which participates in the development of a human being, but which also repairs "injured" DNA. Like an orchestra conductor, the centromere is a key factor in maintaining a constant number of chromosomes and preserving the integrity of our genome. It is the centromere which, during mitosis, becomes an assembly platform for kinetochore, a protein complex to which the mitotic spindle binds, in order to fairly separate and pull the chromosomes to each daughter cell. "Any failure during these processes may lead to poor chromosome separation and as a result numeric and structural alterations, often in the centromere, which in turn may lead to aneuploidy and/or chromosome instability (CIN), two common characteristics of cancerous cells. My role is to understand why there is fragility in the centromere."
And Daniele Fachinetti leads his team in this direction with passion and conviction:
I love my job because there's always something unexpected. Every day, every week, we may make new discoveries which can lead to new hypotheses, which I hope will one day be used to serve patients.