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Paola Corti, PhD

Academic Title:

Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment:

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


670 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore MD 21201

Education and Training

1995-2002       B.S., Natural Sciences, University of Milan, Italy.               

2002-2006       Ph.D., Insect Biotechnology, University of Basilicata, Potenza, Italy; University of Durham, Durham, UK; United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Beltsville, USA. 

2007-2011     Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

2011-2014     Postdoctoral Associate. RiMED fellowship, Department of Medicine; Heart, Lung, Blood and Vascular Medicine Institute. University of Pittsburgh, PA.

2014-2016     Research Associate. RiMED grant, Department of Medicine, Vascular Medicine Institute (VMI). University of Pittsburgh, PA.

2017-2019     Research Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Vascular Medicine Institute (VMI). University of Pittsburgh, PA.

2019-2022     Assistant Professor of Medicine (non-tenure track), Department of Medicine, Vascular Medicine Institute (VMI). University of Pittsburgh, PA.

2023-             Assistant Professor (tenure track), Department of Biochemistry and Biomolecular Sciences. University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore MD.


The long-term goal of my research is to elucidate the function of cellular globins in vivo using the zebrafish as a model system. The recent discovery of an increasing number of heme proteins in vertebrates belonging to the globin family has opened a new research field aimed to understand their role and characterize their functions. These proteins are highly conserved and expressed in diverse organisms. In analogy with hemoglobin and myoglobin they can bind oxygen and other gaseous ligands but their physiological role in vivo is still unknown. My research indicates that these proteins can have different functions independent of oxygen transport and delivery, including the regulation of nitric oxide levels and adaptive responses to tissue injury. These functions can have important implications for embryonic development and tissue regeneration.

During my postdoctoral studies I gained expertise in the use of zebrafish as a model organism for developmental biology studies. My recent work has focused on two topics: i) angiogenesis and heart regeneration using the zebrafish model, and ii) the role of zebrafish globins in nitric oxide metabolism and development. To complement the in vivo studies of protein function, I have also characterized the biophysical properties of newly discovered globins via recombinant production of these proteins in E. coli. The combination of these in vivo and in vitro studies has produced critical, novel insights in globin function such as the nitric oxide formation and antiplatelet aggregation functions of Globin X in zebrafish and the important role of nitrite to maintain nitric oxide homeostasis during cardiac regeneration.

Our present studies arise from the unexpected observation that cytoglobin colocalize with motile cilia in zebrafish and cytoglobin-deficient mutants show defects in the development of left-right organ pattern. These findings establish a previous unknown role of globins for the correct left-right pattern of organs during development. In addition we lead to our hypothesis for cytoglobin as a ciliary related protein that regulates nitric oxide levels in the development of organ laterality. In addition, we shed light on the mechanisms of cytoglobin function in cilia function and laterality determination through regulation of nitric oxide balance.

Research/Clinical Keywords

globins, nitric oxide, nitrite, zebrafish, embryonic development, cardiac regeneration

Highlighted Publications

Rochon ER, Xue J, Sayd Mohammed M, Smith C, Anders Hay-Schmidt, DeMartino AW, Clark A, Xu Q, Lo CW, Tsang M, Tejero J, Gladwin MT and Corti P. Cytoglobin regulates nitric-oxide dependent cilia motility and organ laterality in development. Nature Communications. (2023) (Accepted).

Giordano D, Corti P, Coppola D, Altomonte G, Xue J, Russo R, di Prisco G, Verde C. Regulation of globin expression in Antarctic fish under thermal and hypoxic stress. Mar Genomics. (2021) 57:100831. PMID: 33250437.

Rochon E., Missinato MA., Xue J., Tejero J., Tsang M., Gladwin M. and Corti P. Nitrite improves heart regeneration in zebrafish” Antioxid Redox Signal (2020) 32(6):363-377. PMCID: PMC6985782. Article featured on journal cover. 

Amdahl MB, Sparacino-Watkins CE, Corti P, Gladwin MT, Tejero J.  Efficient Reduction of Vertebrate Cytoglobins by the Cytochrome b(5)/Cytochrome b(5)Reductase/NADH System.  Biochemistry. (2017) 56(30):3993-4004. PMID: 28671819.

Corti P, Xue J, Tejero J, Wajih N, Sun M, Stolz DB, Tsang M, Kim-Shapiro DB, Gladwin MT. Globin X is a six-coordinate globin that reduces nitrite to nitric oxide in fish red blood cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci (2016) 113(30):8538-43. PMID: 27407144.

Corti P, Ieraci M, Tejero J. Characterization of zebrafish neuroglobin and cytoglobins 1 and 2: Zebrafish cytoglobins provide insights into the transition from six-coordinate to five-coordinate globins. Nitric Oxide. (2016) 53:22-34. PMID: 26721561.

Corti P, Young S, Chen CY, Patrick MJ, Rochon ER, Pekkan K, Roman BL. Interaction between alk1 and blood flow in development of arteriovenous malformations. (2011) 138(8):1573-82. PMID: 21389051

Grants and Contracts

R01HL168775 (Multi-PI)

12/01/23 – 11/30/28. Airway epithelial cytoglobin regulates nitric oxide synthase and development of primary ciliary dyskinesia and situs inversus.

18CDA34110344 (PI)

07/01/18 - 12/31/22. Cytoglobin signals in primary cilia and contributes to normal cardiac development.

RiMED Award, Research Foundation grant 

2014-2019. Role of globins during heart regeneration and embryonic development.