2007- Current - Permanent Research Scientist at the University of Florence
2001 – 2004 International Ph.D. in Structural Biology, CERM, University of Florence
2000 Laurea in Chemistry, University of Florence, (Graduated Cum Laude 110/110)
The research expertise of Francesca Cantini is focused on structural biology, in particular she focus on the study of structural and dynamic characterization of proteins through NMR spectroscopy. She has contributed to methodological and theoretical advancements in protein characterization by NMR. Since 2000, her research activity is dedicated to the comprehension of processes of metal transport in the cell and its incorporation into the final targets. F.C. is an expert in the characterization of the human Cu, Zn superoxide dismutase protein (hSOD1) and its mutants linked with the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). She has structurally characterized, via NMR, different metalleted forms of hSOD1. These studies were important to understanding the aggregation process of hSOD1 in its metal-free form. F.C is also involved in a collaboration aiming to find leading compounds for the rational design of drug for ALS pathogenesis. Recently the anti-cancer drug cisplatin was found to bind in vitro the hSOD1 enzyme, preventing the protein from aggregating and dissolving existing oligomers. She is also interested in the study of protein folding by in cell NMR. This technique has been applied to characterize the maturation steps of hSOD1 within cell environment. F.C. also collaborates with Novartis Vaccines (Siena, Italy) contributing to an innovative approach for the design of new vaccines against pathogens responsible for severe human pathologies for which a preventative therapy is not yet available, i.e. Structural Vaccinology. In this frame she structural characterized proteins considered potential vaccine candidates and she studied their interaction with antibodies. The results obtained from these studies have been used for engineering a chimeric molecule that elicits a broad protective immunity against Neisseria meningitides serogroup B.