P.I. Profile

Maria Paola Martelli MD, PhD

As Associate Professor and Assistant Clinical Director at the Hematology section, Department of Medicine, University of Perugia, my expertise and fields of interest include care and treatment of patients with malignant hematological diseases; activity as Principal Investigator and Coinvestigator in clinical trials on acute leukemias; biochemistry and function of tumour-specific proteins (i.e. NPM1, EML4/ALK, BRAF-V600E); functional genomics in onco-hematology; and more specifically, clinical and translational research in acute myeloid leukemia (AML); target therapy in AML.


As Physician in the field of hematology, and particularly AML, I recognize that, besides the important progresses made in the past years in understanding its molecular pathogenesis, it remains a medical need and any further knowledge on mechanisms of leukemogenesis, disease vulnerabilities and drug activities could open new therapeutic opportunities. The opportunity that I have as physician to observe everyday ‘what is happening’ in patients is constantly inspiring my research.


As Researcher in the field of AML and major internal collaborator of Prof. Brunangelo Falini since years, I am leading research on AML in our institute. The activity of my laboratory is focused on translational research in acute myeloid leukemias. In particular, one of the main projects related to the present proposal is to dissect leukemogenesis driven by the NPM1 mutant protein and try to understand the pathway which are altered in the normal hematopoiesis by the underlying genetic lesion in order to identify eventual vulnerabilities of the disease that could be exploited for a target therapy.


As P.I. of a recently awarded 5-years European Research Council (ERC) consolidator grant titled ‘Dissecting to hit the therapeutic targets in NPM1-mutated AML’, it is my willingness to continue in the next years to devolve most of my working time to better understand pathways involved in leukemia development and maintenance, and develop a ‘tailored’ therapy in NPM1-mutated AML (the most frequent AML in adult patients), as well as training, in our academic environment, young researchers in this exciting field. I have recently enlarged my research group, integrating and enriching it with different kinds of expertise coming also from non-hematologic research, creating an exciting and highly competitive research environment.


As active Physician/Researcher I have the unique opportunity to interconnect the clinical and laboratory activities taking advantage from either both to pursue in the objective to understand AML and find a therapy and I am working with the strongest motivation to translate research discoveries into clinics.


Finally a few words to express my gratitude to my Mentor, prof. Brunangelo Falini. I appreciate and treasure everything You taught me, the way to identify the questions that science asks us and the way to deal with them to find an answer. Thank You for the Trust You have shown to have in me and all the opportunities You gave me, first of all the privilege of working alongside You.