Marianna Leonzino received a PhD in Pharmacological Sciences from the University of Milan in 2014, working in the lab of Dr. Bice Chini (CNR, Institute of Neuroscience) and studying the molecular underpinnings of autism spectrum disorders. Her work helped to uncover an oxytocin-induced signaling pathway that affects the developmental switch in GABA signaling (Leonzino et al., 2016), a process known to be perturbed in several neurodevelopmental conditions, including autism.
In 2016 she went on to pursue a postdoctoral training in the lab of Prof. Pietro De Camilli at Yale University (CT, USA). There she worked on the mysterious VPS13 protein family, which are genetically linked to neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental conditions. Her studies provided the first insights on the function of VPS13 proteins as novel unconventional lipid transfer proteins enabling interorganelle lipid exchanges (Kumar*,Leonzino* et al., 2018; Guillen-Samander*, Leonzino*, et al., 2021).
Since 2021 Dr. Leonzino is a Young Investigator at the Institute of Neuroscience of the CNR leading her team within the Humanitas Neurocenter. Her works keeps focusing on VPS13 proteins and interorganelle communication and on their role in neurodegeneration.