People of the Valenzano Lab

We are a team of international scientists working to answer open questions in the fields of evolutionary biology of aging and microbiome research.

senior scientist

drawing Kathrin Reichwald manages the Valenzano lab, from animal licences, to group coordination and support of scientific projects.

lab techs

drawing Farzana Shamim-Schulze is currently setting up the microbiome lab, where she will isolate, culture and genetically engineer killifish-derived microbes for our aging and microbiome research focus.

guest scientists

drawing Allen Mavuru is a field ecologist interested in using eDNA technology to study species conservation and trace species interactions in natural habitats.


drawing Dennis de Bakker studies the genetic causes of naturally-occurring neurodegeneration in African killifishes using genomics, genome editing, histology and experimental anti-aging interventions.
drawing Silvia Cattelan studies male reproductive aging in turquoise killifish. Silvia is an experimental biologists performing experiments in captive killifish cohorts.
drawing Alina Ryabova studies immune aging in killifish. Alina is an experimental biologists, using omics technologies to understand co-evolution between gut microbiome and immune system during aging.
drawing Flavio Costa. Flávio is a microbiologist and his work unravels the interaction between the gut microbiome and aging in turquoise killifish.

graduate students

drawing Jens Seidel is interested at the interplay between immune aging and microbiome composition in killifish and mice. He develops molecular methods to study how the host immune system shapes the commensal microbiome. Jens’ work involves molecular biology, genome editing and genomics.
drawing Gabriele Morabito works at the interface between genome instability and immune aging - he studies genome evolution and immune system-microbiome crosstalk during aging.
drawing Martin Bagic develops numerical models of genome evolution, exploring how demography and ecology shape the evolution of the genetic variants that cause aging across species in nature.
drawing Sam Kean studies how microbiota establish themselves, persist and change in composition throughout host life. Sam’s work involves fieldwork, genomics, bioinformatics and microbiology.