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Life Sciences & Medicine

Professor Franca Fraternali

Franca Fraternali

Job title

Professor of Bioinformatics
& Computational Biology

Department/Division

Biomedicine

Date started at King’s

2005


Challenges and achievements

Professor Fraternali’s research interests focus on the physico-chemistry of molecular interactions of the type protein-protein, protein-solvent, protein-lipid and protein-nucleic acid. She uses bioinformatic methods to analyse the available data on such interactions as well as molecular simulations and theoretical biophysical methods to characterise their stability and related properties.

She develops methods for simulations of proteins and nucleic acids, in particular applied to proteins involved in neuro-degeneration and kinases involved in cancer.

Recently, she has focused on human protein-protein interaction networks, their characterisation in terms of 3D structures and conserved domains, and the analysis of the respective complex interfaces.

Prof. Fraternali has published more than 80 papers in peer-reviewed journals. Her research is funded by BBSRC and MRC and by charities like the `British Heart Foundation’ and `Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research’.

Any details you wish to share about how being female has impacted upon your career (positively or negatively)

Since my childhood I was interested in art and science. Growing up in a family with a tradition in engineering, I decided to stay in science as profession and keep the arts as a passion. I chose chemistry, as it fascinated me, particularly because I had read about Marie Curie and it was such a fascinating character with an incredible will power. The chemistry classes in Italy were small and the students were followed closely. 

I learned to discuss and collaborate in a mixed gender environment. Moving as a PhD student into the Physical Chemistry department at the ETH Zürich, I noticed that there were not many female students and particularly no female full-professors. I was determined to have an academic career, to persevere and to achieve my objectives, but at the same time enjoy what I was doing, without letting ambition take over my genuine passions. 

That was challenging at times, particularly being courageous in pursuing my ideas in a male-dominated environment. If I think back now, this has been a good school to reinforce my own motivations and to focus on my goals. I hope to stimulate new generations of male and/or female students to follow their own ambitions and to be perseverant and courageous.  As Marie Curie used to say: “ Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less”.

 

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