Massimo Caputi, Ph.D. is a Professor of Biomedical Science at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University. In 1992, he received his B.S. in Molecular Biology from the University of Trieste (Italy) and in 1996 his Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from the International School for Advanced Science, Trieste (Italy). His doctoral and post-doctoral work focused on the mechanisms that control the splicing of eukaryotic genes. His doctoral work led to the discovery of splicing silencing elements within the transcripts of human messengers utilizing the fibronectin gene as a model. This was followed-up in his post-doctoral research at UC Santa Cruz (1996-2001) where he was awarded the prestigious Human Frontier Science Program fellowship and published breakthrough work characterizing the key RNA sequences and the cellular proteins that modulate the alternative splicing of the HIV-1 messenger RNA (mRNA). In 2001, Dr. Caputi moved to Johns Hopkins University, where he held a position of Research Scientist and continued his work on HIV-1 splicing regulation securing his first NIH R01 grant. Furthermore, he characterized the molecular mechanisms underlying the genetic disease Marfan Syndrome. In 2003, Dr. Caputi was hired as an Assistant Professor at FAU where he continued his work on the molecular biology of HIV-1 and the mechanisms regulating cellular and viral splicing. In 2007, he obtained tenure and was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor and in 2017 to Full Professor. During his tenure at FAU, Dr. Caputi has developed novel techniques to study RNA – RNA binding proteins interactions and made important contributions to our understanding of how cellular proteins modulate the replication of the HIV-1 genome. His research expanded to the mechanism regulating the transcription of cellular and viral genes and characterized the protein SRSF1 as a strong inhibitor of HIV-1 replication. His work on RNA binding proteins and SRSF1 has been continuously funded by the NIH and has recently expanded to the study of the role played by multiple RNA binding proteins on cellular gene transcription and T cell development and functions. More recently, Dr. Caputi’s research has expanded through collaborative research grants to the development of microfluidic diagnostic devices for the detection of multiple viral species from blood and other bodily fluids.
For the past two decades, our research has focused on the study of the complex mechanisms that lead to the expression of cellular and viral genomes. We have characterized several key cellular factors and viral sequences required for efficient HIV-1 splicing and developed novel methodologies and reduced systems to study the transcription and regulation of the viral transcripts. At the same time, we have pioneered novel technologies to study RNA-RNA binding proteins interactions and worked at the characterization of key cellular RNA-RNA binding protein complexes. Currently, we are working on multiple projects, which aim at the understanding of how cellular and viral genes are expressed focusing on the role that RNA binding proteins have on transcription and splicing. We utilize a combination of genomic, cellular and biochemical approaches to characterize functions and pathways regulated by members of multiple families of RNA binding proteins. Other projects in our lab aim at the characterization of the mechanisms regulating the functions of T cells in response to viral infection. More recently, we have begun working on multiple collaborative projects to develop diagnostic microfluidic chips for the detection of multiple viruses in bodily fluids. Other projects in the lab aim at the characterization of host-pathogen interactions in tropical and subtropical viruses such as Dengue, Zika, West Nile and Rift Valley Fever.