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Alessandro Atzeni

PhD Programme

Nutrition and Metabolism

Research group

Nutrició, Alimentació, Creixement i Salut Mental


Jordi Salas-Salvadó & Mònica Bulló Bonet


Alessandro obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Biomedical Laboratory Techniques from University of Cagliari (Italy) and his Master's Degree in Bioinformatics and Medical Biotechnologies from University of Verona (Italy). During his second year of Master he did 18 months of Erasmus exchange at the University of Brussels (Belgium), including a period of six months for his final project thesis development. His background is mostly focused in microbiology and molecular biology. During his stay in UK he had the opportunity to work at the University College London Centre for Clinical Microbiology as intern scientist, developing a project related to multidrug resistance in Mycobacterium Tuberculosis and at the Open University, as predoctoral fellow developing a project about novel non-invasive methods for monitoring gut microbiota in different physiological conditions

Project: Effect of a mediterranean diet on changes in gut microbiota and epigenetic tags

Fighting overweight and obesity is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century because is a major risk factor for other metabolic diseases including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, a better knowledge of mechanisms common to metabolic disorders together with the design of effective strategies able to modify these mechanisms towards a healthier function are mandatory in order to decrease the burden of metabolic diseases. The Project will investigate whether following a Mediterranean Diet modifies gut microbial composition and epigenetics (miRNA, telomere lenght, DNA methylation) thereby reducing metabolic risk factors as a potential mechanism explaining the link between gut mircrobiota and obseity-related comorbidities. The study will be conducted on overweigt/obese metabolic participants followed by 3 months. Gut microbiota richness and composition will be evaluated. Circulating metabolomics and fecal metabolomic profiling will be analysed using three different platforms: Proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR), liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Telomere lenght, total DNA methylation and methylation in specific genes related to inflammation will also be analysed.