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Daniela Cimini

Professor of Biological Sciences
162A Steger Hall (MC 0477)
1015 Life Science Circle
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Major Field of Interest

Research in the Cimini lab focuses on two major areas: (i) how the mechanics and dynamics of mitotic apparatus components ensure accurate chromosome segregation during mitosis; (ii) how changes in chromosome numbers affects cell division and cell proliferation.

Current Research

Maintenance of a correct number of chromosomes is necessary for organismal development and survival. Animal cells maintain a correct diploid chromosome number by equally segregating their DNA (chromosomes) into two daughter cells at each division cycle. When chromosome segregation does not occur correctly, daughter cells with abnormal chromosome numbers are produced. Abnormal chromosome numbers are a distinctive feature of cancer cells and such chromosome number changes are believed to contribute to cancer progression. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms leading to inaccurate chromosome segregation is critical for understanding the process of carcinogenesis and will be the starting point for the development of diagnosis, prevention, and treatment protocols. Our laboratory uses a combination of live-cell imaging, quantitative microscopy, and protein inhibition to identify the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal cell division behaviors. To enhance the breadth and scope of our work, we often collaborate with engineers and mathematical modelers.

  • Virginia Tech, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Professor, Jul 2017 - Present
  • Virginia Tech, Fralin Life Sciences Institute Fellow, Nov 2013 – Present
  • Virginia Tech, Health Sciences Faculty of Health Sciences, Nov 2013 – Present
  • University Roma Tre (Rome, Italy), Visiting Faculty, Jun 3-22, 2013
  • Virginia Tech, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Associate Professor, Jul 2012 – Jun 2017
  • Virginia Tech, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Assistant Professor, Dec 2005 – Jun 2012
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Biology, Postdoctoral Fellow (Advisor Dr. E.D. Salmon), May 2002 – Dec 2005
  • Visiting Researcher, Jan 2000 – Apr 2001, Center for Evolutionary Genetics (Italian National Research Council), Rome, Italy
  • Research Fellow, Italian Federation for Cancer Research (FIRC), Jan – Dec 2001
  • Ph.D., Genetics and Molecular Biology March 2001, University of Rome “La Sapienza,” Center for Evolutionary Genetics. Dissertation title: Cellular mechanisms of aneuploidy induction in mammalian cells: role of mitotic spindle and mitotic checkpoint. Advisor: Dr. Francesca Degrassi
  • Specialty degree (Highest honors), Applied Genetics October 1997. University of Rome “La Sapienza,” Thesis title: Study of chromosome malsegregation mechanisms by means of in situ hybridization on anaphases and binucleate cells. Advisors: Prof. Caterina Tanzarella and Dr. Francesca Degrassi
  • Degree (Laurea, Highest honors) in Biology November 1993. University of Rome “La Sapienza,” Thesis title: Use of CREST staining and in situ hybridization for the analysis of micronuclei induced by 5-azacytidine in human fibroblast cultures. Advisors: Prof. Caterina Tanzarella and Dr. Francesca Degrassi
  • Virginia Tech Scholar of the Week, October 17-21, 2016
  • Recognized through the Virginia Tech National Distinction Program, 2016
  • Department of Biological Sciences Outstanding Research Award, 2016
  • The Triangle Cytoskeleton Meeting Keynote Speaker, 2014
  • Department of Biological Sciences Outstanding Research Award, 2010
  • Biography included in “Who’s Who in Science and Engineering,” 2008
  • Cell Dance Festival Award, American Society for Cell Biology, 2005
  • Honorable Mention, Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition, 2005
  • Postdoctoral Award for Research Excellence, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2003
  • Young Scientist Award, European Environmental Mutagen Society, 2001
  • Graduate Student Full Scholarship, Univ. of Rome “La Sapienza,” Nov 1997 – Oct 2000
  • Best Poster Award, European Environmental Mutagen Society, 1996
  • Three-year Full Scholarship for top three Specialty School of Applied Genetics