New Faculty

Dr. Antonietta Franco joins the Department of Medicine

Dr. Antonietta Franco joined the Department of Medicine in the Division of Pharmacogenomics as an Instructor in July, 2019.

Dr. Franco started her scientific carrier in Naples, (Italy). During her PhD training, her studies focused on G-Protein-Coupled receptor (GRK2) and its role in cardiovascular disease under supervision of Professor Guido Iaccarino and Bruno Trimarco. She is a very dynamic and curious scientist. She has always explored new scientific fields and challenged herself in new laboratories. Dr. Franco completed two summer research programs: in 2011 under supervision of Professor Ralph Knoll, Department of National Heart and Lung to Imperial College London (UK) and in 2013 at GSI Helmholtzzentrum fur Schwerionenforsschung Frankfurt (Germany) under supervision of Professor Marco Durante in the Department of Biophysics. In 2016, she won an international grant with “Italian Society of Ierpertensione arteriosa” that allowed her to fly to the prestigious laboratory in the world for mitochondria studies at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis under supervision of Professor Gerald W. Dorn II. Her studies have focused on Charcot-Marie-Tooth Type 2A (CMT2A). CMT2A is an incurable hereditary neurological disease caused by mutation in Mitofusin2. Her CMT2A studies have been respectively published in Nature (Franco A. in 2016) and Science (Rocha AG., in 2018). She is in the process of presenting her Career Development Award with the American Heart Association to request financial assistance in the near future.

The principal aim of Dr. Franco’s research for the near future is to understand the molecular mitochondria mechanism and clinical relevance in mitochondrial fusion defects linked to cardiac abnormalities. The long-term goal of this project will be finding ways to therapeutically approach treating mitochondrial fusion defects in heart failure. This research will have high relevance since she will analyze the human variants that induce hereditary disease. In this study, she will use Mfn-agonist compounds as a possible therapeutic approach in hereditary incurable cardiac disorder.