The Cure Starts Now

Beyond the Lab: Dr. Maria (Mara) Vinci


Maria Vinci

Group Leader at Bambino Gesu Children's Hospital, Italy

The Cure Starts Now recently sat down and had a conversation with leading DIPG researcher, Dr. Mara Vinci:

Why did you decide to focus your research on DIPG/DMG?
"I started working on DIPG in 2012, the same year the two landmark papers came out describing the histone mutations in pediatric high-grade glioma. It was the beginning of a new era!! At that time I was a PostDoc in Chris Jones lab and I became very interested and passionate about DIPG in the same way we are attracted by the black hole … something difficult to catch, something difficult to understand. As a scientist I was eager to know more but also I felt a commitment touched by the stories of all the DIPG patients and families."

What are some of the greatest advancements you have seen with DIPG/DMG research?
"There have been many technological advancements, but personally one of the greatest one that has also impacted my contribution to DIPG/DMG research, it has been the ability to establish patient derived-cell lines and in vivo models and to use them to validate genomic finding, to discover and validate potential therapeutic targets, to provide the tools for more in depth studies for DIPG."

What have been the biggest hurdles for you with your research?
"Patience and persistence!
To do DIPG/DMG research often we need to explore new risky routes, to combine different fields of expertise and bring together new collaborations to perform complex studies … and to do this we need time…!! But this is time that patients and family do not have and sometime I find it hard to deal with."

What have been your biggest accomplishments with your work?
"Two main ones: the Nat Medicine publication in 2018, which has been the result of a large piece of work I conducted while I was in the Jones lab, and then to have established my own team, of which I am very proud."

How has The Cure Starts Now and the Homerun Cure strategy helped you achieve larger cure objective?
"The Cure Starts Now and the Homerun Cure have been fundamental especially to support my young team to “start” and pursue new research paths for DIPG/DMG, but also nurturing in every way possible a “collaborative” network which today I feel part of and which I believe is critical to advance the DIPG/DMG research field."

Tell us something interesting about yourself that others might not know (ie. Do you play an instrument, have a hidden talent or just an interesting fact about you)
"Something curious about me is my name …. Why? People often get confused about my name: on my birth certificate I am Maria as well as on official documents. But everyone knows and calls me Mara. So please call me Mara. In any case, you can recognize me from the big curly hair and my loud laugh."

Learn more about Dr. Vinci's research funded by The Cure Starts Now: