Daniela Cimini

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

Major Field of Interest

Dr. Cimini’s research focuses in two major areas: (i) role of mechanics and dynamics of mitotic apparatus components in ensuring accurate chromosome segregation during cell division and (ii) causes and consequences of chromosome number alterations in normal and cancer cells.

Current Research

Maintenance of a correct number of chromosomes is necessary for the development and survival of an organism. 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, aneuploid daughter cells (i.e., cells possessing an incorrect chromosome number) are produced. Aneuploidy is well-known for causing severe genetic diseases (such as Down syndrome) and is the leading cause of miscarriage and stillbirth in humans. In addition, aneuploidy is now believed to play a key role in cancer development and progression. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms leading to inaccurate chromosome segregation is critical for understanding how cancer develops and progresses and will be the starting point for the development of diagnosis, prevention, and intervention 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 behavior.

  • Virginia Tech, Biocomplexity Institute Biology 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