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About me

Dr Giovanna Zinzalla, Assistant Professor in Chemical Biology/Principal Investigator (PI)


Phone: +46 (0)76 555 1009


Organic and Medicinal Chemistry, Biochemistry, Structural Biology, Biochemical and Biophysical Assays, Structure-Based Molecular Design, Protein-Protein Interactions, Drug Discovery, Cancer Research.


For the up-to-date publication list (ie, including Early View articles) Click on the ResearchGate link below for Links,  or paste into your internet browser:

"The structure of INI1/hSNF5 RPT1 and its interactions with the c-MYC:MAX heterodimer provide insights into the interplay between MYC and the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex." The FEBS Journal, 2018 (DOI: 10.3410/f.734028197.793551162), has been recommended in F1000Prime as being of special significance in its field by F1000 Faculty Member Wolfgang Jahnke ((Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland).


Dr. Zinzalla obtained her first class honors Laurea in Chemistry (equivalent to MChem) from the University of Milan and carried out her PhD studies with Prof. Stefano Maiorana and Dr Clara Baldoli also at the University of Milan. Her research focused on developing new metal complex conjugates of Peptide Nucleic Acids (PNAs) as biosensors, and she investigated novel trace-less linkers for solid-phase synthesis of drug-like small molecules in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline.

In 2004 she was awarded a Marie Curie EIF Individual Research Fellowship and appointed as Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the University of Cambridge with Professor Steven Ley, where she initiated a project focused on exploring the role of molecular diversity for drug discovery, with the design of natural product-like compounds as novel therapeutic agents.

In June 2006 she joined the School of Pharmacy, University College London (UCL) (London, UK) as a Senior Research Fellow funded by Cancer Research UK (CR UK), within the CR UK Protein-Protein Interactions Drug Discovery Research Group (unit director: Prof. David E. Thurston). As a co-PI of a CR UK Small Molecule Drug Discovery Initiative program she led the research aimed at discovering protein-protein inhibitors of transcriptional factors such as Hypoxia Inducible Factor 1 (HIF-1) and Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (STAT3 ).

In January 2012 she took up the position at the Karolinska Institutet as Assistant Professor in Chemical Biology and a PI (junior Group Leader) within the Center for Advanced Cancer Therapies (ACT).

Research description

Dissecting and Manipulating Transcription Factors Networks

She focuses on how protein-protein interactions regulate the transcription factors that control cell growth and differentiation. Her ultimate goal is to help unravel the complex networks that regulate transcription and use this knowledge for therapeutic intervention in fields such as cancer, stem cell biology, regenerative medicine, inflammation and heart disease. To this end her research encompasses biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology to study these interactions, as well as chemical approaches to develop chemical probes that target them.

Currently she is working on the MYC transcription factor, which can be considered to be one of the master regulator of cell growth, proliferation and differentiation as it governs numerous cellular processes including cell survival, apoptosis and metabolism. MYC, like many transcription factors, is an intrinsically disordered proteins and working on this system also allows to address more general questions on how intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) exert their functions and how they can be targeted with small molecule, which have wider implications in many areas of biology.

Research collaborations (in alphabetical order)

Dr Bruno Amati, European Institute of Oncology (IEO), Milan, Italy

Prof. Don Ayer, Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, USA

Dr Mark Bycroft, MRC LMB, Cambridge, UK

Prof. Martin Eilers, Theodor Boveri Institut, University of Würzburg, Germany

Prof. Gerard Evan, University of Cambridge, UK

Prof. Lars-Gunnar Larsson, Karolinska Institute, Sweden




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