Focus on Postdoctoral Fellow: Marco Demaria, PhD

Marco Demaria, PhD“I always knew that I wanted to work here,” says postdoctoral fellow Marco Demaria, PhD. Marco had several interviews scheduled for his first trip to California, but the Buck Institute was a priority. “It was my first interview. I met with the staff, presented my work, and all the other interviews did not matter anymore.”

Marco grew up in Cuneo, Italy, where he showed a propensity for science at a young age. While attending the University of Torino, he discovered a passion for cancer research. But during his PhD study, Marco came to the realization that he was ready to leave Italy. “I wanted to be in a country where research was more of a priority,” he says. He wanted to continue his work in cancer cell metabolism, but after reading studies published by Buck faculty Judith Campisi, PhD, renowned cancer researcher and senescence pioneer, Demaria became intrigued by the phenomenon of cellular senescence. Cellular senescence is a unique cell type that universally stops dividing in the presence of particular stresses to the body. The possibility of this novel cell type having an influence on the growth and promotion of cancer cells presented his dream project.

At the Buck, Demaria began working with a novel mouse model of senescence and completed his PhD. “I had been very focused on the molecular aspects of biology without having a broader idea of the complexities of an organism…I am learning much about disease that I did not know before,” he says. Demaria excitedly describes his recent finding that one of the natural chemicals secreted from senescent cells can be applied topically to help to heal skin. He also collaborates with other scientists on bone regeneration, muscular regeneration, neuroregeneration and cutaneous woundhealing research.

Demaria is not only a valuable scientific resource to his peers, but as acting president of the Buck’s Postdoctoral Association he’s developed into a leader among them. Demaria aspires to one day start his own lab with the hope of having direct impact on patient care.

When he is away from the lab, Marco enjoys playing soccer and music. If he is not up at 6 a.m. watching an international match, he is commuting to San Francisco to play on his community futbol team, “Hardly Athletic.” In Italy, he played drums in a “post-rock” band. (Out of respect for his neighbors he left his drums behind). He is currently learning guitar and keyboard. That is not surprising, since Demaria describes himself with a grin as “a learner – I like to learn all the time.”

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