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Dr. Marco Di Antonio

Senior Lecturer, Imperial College London



Dr Marco Di Antonio is a researcher in the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London. His research group aims to understand changes that DNA undergoes because of disease development and is applying this to ovarian cancer to help overcome treatment resistance. In 2023, Marco was awarded the International Chemical Biology Society (ICBS) Young Chemical Biologist Award for his significant research and service contributions to chemical biology. Marco was also named as a 2022 Lister Prize Fellow.

We’re funding Marco to use his expertise in biology and chemistry to develop a ‘tool’ that will help us to understand why some women become resistant to treatment, knowledge that is crucial in giving hope to the thousands of women whose treatment stops working.

What inspired you to be a scientist and research ovarian cancer?

I have always enjoyed solving problems and understanding how the world around me was working, which has been my springboard for becoming a researcher. I have lost my cousin to ovarian cancer few years ago and this has been a key factor that inspired me to be a researcher on ovarian cancer. The innate ability of ovarian cancer to develop resistance to chemotherapy is one of the main reasons behind its deadliness, which is something that motivates me to investigate as a researcher.

What project are you working on that is funded by Ovarian Cancer Action?

I am a chemist by training. In this project funded by Ovarian Cancer Action, I am developing novel chemical tools to rewire, with control, the pathways responsible for the development of chemo-resistance. The ambition is that with these innovative tools we would be able to underpin key pathways responsible for the development of resistance to therapies and hijack them.

Describe a typical day in the lab

My typical day in the lab is mainly spent by discussing new data collected by the members of my team, which is often associated with unexpected results and the excitement to rationalise what observed and the learning process associated with this. Reading the literature and ensuring we are up to speed with the latest research is also a big part of my typical day.

What is the most exciting part of your job?

The most exciting aspect of my job is for sure training the next generation of scientists and the responsibilities that come with it. Helping the scientific members of my team to reach their full potential and their next career milestone is an absolute joy and privilege.

What is the most challenging part of your Job? What keeps you motivated on a hard day?

Science is often not linear and the efforts you put into a project are most of the time not rewarded with important discoveries or absolute validation of the initial hypothesis proposed. However, failed projects and failed experiments always offer opportunities to learn something new that we did not anticipate before, and seeing failure through these lenses is key to be a successful scientist. Moreover, knowing that our work can help on the longer-term patient affected by ovarian cancer is also an extremely strong motivation to push through during the hard days!