The Young Investigator Draft is the result of Uplifting Athletes’ ongoing commitment to cultivate resources that accelerate scientific advancements for rare disease treatments and potential cures while facilitating the next generation of rare disease researchers.
These Young Investigators will pursue rare disease research in one of five different areas: rare cancers, rare autoimmune and immunological disorders, rare blood disorders, rare genetic disorders and rare muscular and neurological disorders.
To learn more about the Young Investigator Draft and to purchase tickets click here
Researcher: Dr. Alessia Stornetta
Category: Rare Blood Disorders
Education: Dr. Stornetta grew up in Ticino, the Italian-speaking region of Southern Switzerland. She received her bachelor and master degrees in food science and in 2016 obtained her PhD all from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. Last year Dr. Stornetta joined the laboratory of Dr. Silvia Balbo as a postdoctoral associate at the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota.
Research: Stornetta summarizes, “In the Balbo lab we are investigating how environmental exposures resulting for example from alcohol or tobacco, but also from molecules naturally produced by our body, cause diseases. In particular, my research focuses on studying exposures in the oral cavity of people with Fanconi anemia, a rare genetic blood disorder that may result in bone marrow failure, physical abnormalities, organ defects, and an increased risk for developing certain cancers, such as those of the oral cavity of FA patients resulting from aldehydes, reactive by-products of cellular metabolism, but also common constituents of diet, cigarette smoke, and environmental pollution. My research is currently focusing on studying the exposure in the oral cavity of FA patients resulting from aldehydes, reactive by-products of cellular metabolism, but also common constituents of diet, cigarette smoke, and environment pollution. The ultimate goal of this study is to understand if FA patients are more susceptible to the detrimental effects of aldehydes to the oral cavity compared to non-FA subjects and if this can explain their higher risk for developing oral cancer. This research has the potential to provide new insights on the role of aldehydes in the development of oral cancer and to impact the FA community with concrete interventions that could contribute to the prevention or delay of the incidence of these cancers in these patients.
In Their Words: “What first first inspired me to do research on toxicology and cancer was during my master studies after attending the toxicology lectures given by Prof. Shana J. Sturla, who later also became my PhD advisor at ETH Zurich. Since cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and worldwide, the possibility of contributing to improve strategies to prevent the development of certain cancers or to improve cancer therapy is what drives and motivates me to be in the lab every day.” – Dr. Alessia Stornetta