Scientific and educational objectives

Scientific and Educational Objectives

Spectacular developments in the areas of genetics and molecular biology have occurred in recent years. These two disciplines have progressively integrated, exchanging conceptual categories and experimental methods, and currently represent the central, unifying theme of modern biology. This has created new areas of basic and applied research, while simultaneously expanding existing ones. Accordingly, there is a strong demand for specialists in this field able to carry out high-level research at universities, research institutes and industry.

Historically, genetics was born as a science aimed at heredity analysis, yet has since rapidly evolved toward the study of the genetic material, structure, and function. This led to the realization that genetics is an essential component of almost every area of ​​biology, and a discipline with a strong integrative power between the various sectors. The results obtained in the first decades of this century have established that the genetic composition of an organism not only determines the various levels of phenotypic organization, but also the way it interacts with the environment in which it lives. Concurrently, the past 40 years of molecular biology have clarified the chemical / physical basis of many fundamental biological processes. The chemical structure of the gene, its mode of replication, transcription and translation are now well known in their molecular details. In addition, the latest technologies in genetic engineering have provided a powerful means of investigation that has overcome those seemingly insurmountable limits imposed by the nature of the biological systems studied.

Presently, the topics that have focused the attention of researchers in the field of genetics and molecular biology include: genome organization (with particular regard to eukaryotes), mechanisms that regulate gene expression at both transcriptional and post-transcriptional level, spontaneous and induced processes of mutation and its relationship with the mechanisms of DNA repair, and genetic variability in human populations. Genetics and molecular biology are also used in combination to dissect and understand complex biological processes, such as development and differentiation in both animal and plant systems. In addition, recent history has shown that the most important applications of genetics and molecular biology have accelerated developments in the fields of medicine, pharmacology and agriculture. Recombinant DNA technology, in conjunction with genetic analysis, are used to diagnose genetic diseases, build bacteria able to produce molecules of pharmacological interest, or transfer "useful genes" from one organism to another. Furthermore, society has greatly benefitted from the use of molecular genetic methods for the treatment of many inherited or acquired diseases. Therefore, it is foreseeable that these applications will continue to spread in the future and the demand for highly qualified researchers will always be greater.
 

The Graduate School in Genetics and Molecular is a three year course during which students attend both general didactic activities organized by the Biology and Molecular Medicine (BeMM) School, and specific lectures held by the teachers of the scientific board. Emphasis is placed on participation in practical laboratory and research activities, as well as specialized seminars, focusing on different content depending on the year. With this specialized and collaborative technique, the University of Rome La Sapienza aims to train researchers capable of working with scientific originality and methodological expertise in the most modern and advanced sectors of molecular-genetic basic and applied research.

RESEARCH LINES

1. Chromosome structure and gene expression: euchromatin and heterochromatin

2. Genetic, cytological and molecular analysis of cell division in Drosophila melanogaster

3. DNA-protein interaction in the regulation of gene expression

4. The role of the DNA sequence in the chromosome organization

5. Regulation of gene expression at the post-transcriptional level

6. New RNA functions and their use in gene therapy

7. Genotype-environment interactions in human populations

8. Study of DNA and histone epigenetic modifications

9. New molecular approaches for gene therapy of congenital and acquired genetic diseases

10. Plant molecular biology