The Federazione Associazioni Abruzzesi-U.S.A held its 23rd anniversary Medaglia d’Oro event on Oct. 11 at Filippo Ristorante in the North End. Celebrating the best and brightest individuals with Abruzzese origins, this year’s gold medal award went to researcher Annalisa Di Ruscio, a native of Sulmona, L’Aquila.
A doctor specialized in hematology, Di Ruscio moved to Boston in 2007 to pursue her passion for research and obtain a doctorate degree at the Daniel G. Tenen Laboratory at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. After seven years of hard work, her Harvard-affiliated lab has discovered a molecular “switch” that activates anti-tumoral genes. The discovery was recently published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature.
“Now we are looking to use the discoveries we’ve made to develop a less toxic gene-specific drug,” says Di Ruscio. “The idea is to not have side effects when affecting regions of DNA, which is what happens with most of these drugs nowadays.”
The FAA-USA represents several Abruzzese groups in the United States, including organizations in Massachusetts, California, Delaware and Pennsylvania, and is currently headed by Rosetta Romagnoli, president of Aprutium. Along with the Medaglia d’Oro, the annual event also awards two scholarships in memory of Rosaria DiPompo Pace. This year’s recipients were Kha Huynh and Sarah Diettich, both high school seniors that have excelled in learning the Italian language.