Scientific Contributions - Coastal Carolina University
In This Section

The Gamberi Research Group

Most Significant Scientific Contributions

Our molecular developmental biology research centers on the Spatio-temporal regulation of gene expression and its effects on cell, tissue, and organismal polarization in health and disease. We employ the genetically tractable fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster model to decipher the molecular genetic mechanisms of abnormal cell proliferation in polycystic kidney disease and kidney cancer. Using traditional genetic, molecular, and biochemical assays, ’omics’ approaches, and pioneering whole-animal pharmacological assays we aim to define the dynamics of normal and pathological cellular networks.

  1. Modeling the renal cyst in Drosophila. In my lab, we have established a first-in-kind Drosophila model of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and discovered a new role for BicC in human autosomal dominant PKD (2017. PLoS Genetics 13(4):e1006694, first and corresponding authorship, F1000Prime recommendation). We combine genetic and chemical probing in the BicC cystic fly model to decipher the mechanisms of complex cyst pathology.

  2. Fly pharmacology. In my lab, we have established technology for accelerated drug discovery in the fly (2020. Genome, 64(2):147-159) that has already yielded effective cyst-reducing drug candidates: rapamycin (PLoS Genetics 2017), antineoplastic mimetics of the Second mitochondrial-related activator of caspases (Smac) (2019. Biomedicines. 7(4), 82) and -never used before in PKD therapy- melatonin (Molecules, 2020, 25, 5477). Non-toxic, melatonin would be ideal for long-term treatment of chronic PKD, either alone or in combination. Characterization of the active molecules and screening of promising candidates are ongoing.  

  3. Research pedagogy. Teaching several courses per year, I designed novel pedagogy to include undergraduates in science scholarship and lead them to authorship and publication (2019. Intern J Sci Educ. 41:48-63). Such pedagogy has already yielded three published articles and one manuscript in preparation, co-authored by 100+ undergraduates (2021. Biomedicines 9(1), 89. 2019. Microbiology doi:10.1099/mic.0.000853; 2017. Front Microbiol 8:1265-84). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have redesigned several undergraduate and graduate-level courses for remote online emergency teaching, including lectures and laboratory components. Such engaging courses have received spontaneous praise from the students.